Love Keeps No Record of being wronged

2017 is an year of
anniversaries. the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant reformation, the 150th
anniversary of Confederation, it was a 100 years ago the survivors of the
Shackleton expedition were rescued from Antartica.  2017 is the 40th Anniversary of  Star Wars and The 50th Anniversary of the
Summer of Love.
Last week Deborah mentioned
that she was negative 20 in the summer of Love. 
Which of course was when 100,000 hippies and flower children descended
on the Haight Asbury district of San Francisco in the summer of 1967. 
I was 7 that summer and we
were living in Germany.  I think we
visited Spain in the summer of 67. 
Actually by the time I was 8 I had already lived in or visited 9
countries, which was kind of cool.
I didn’t wear a flower in my
hair, because my parents kept my hair cut so short that they would have had to
staple the flower to my head. 
We are recognizing the summer
of love this Summer at Cornerstone by focusing on 1 Corinthians 13.  And each week we’ve been taking the time to
read the entire passage together. 
Because it’s really important and if you don’t remember anything else
this summer we want you to remember 1 Corinthians 13.   This morning we are going to read the
passage responsively.  That simply means
that I will read a section and then you will read a section.  
1 Corinthians 13:1-13  If I could speak all the languages of earth
and of angels, but didn’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong
or a clanging cymbal. 
If I had the gift of prophecy,
and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and
if I had such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I
would be nothing. 
If I gave everything I have to
the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others, I
would have gained nothing. 
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or
boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own
way.
It is not irritable, and it
keeps no record of being wronged. 
It does not rejoice about
injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
Love never gives up, never
loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 
Prophecy and speaking in
unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last
forever! 
Now our knowledge is partial
and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole
picture! 
But when full understanding
comes, these partial things will become useless. 
When I was a child, I spoke
and thought and reasoned as a child.
But when I grew up, I put away
childish things. 
Now we see things imperfectly
as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial
and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now
knows me completely. 
Three things will last
forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
This week we are looking at
the last part of verse five which tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:5 . . . Love
keeps no record of being wronged.
In its simplest form we take
this to mean “Love forgives” but it’s deeper than that.  It’s more like. . .  “Love doesn’t hold a grudge.” 
You can forgive and yet still
remember the wrong that was done and the hurt that happened.
Willie Nelson wrote and sang
the words “Forgiving you was easy but forgetting seems to take the longest
time.”
I tell people it’s like when
you cut yourself and you have a scar. It no longer hurts, but the scar is a
reminder of the hurt.  Now if you’re
lucky the scar will completely fade away and there will be no reminder of the
hurt.
But this actually goes deeper
than that reminder you have of the hurt, In the Daily Study Bible William
Barclay tells us “The word translated store up (keep a record)  is an accountant’s word. It is the word used
for entering up an item in a ledger so that it will not be forgotten.”
But when we say “love keeps no
record of being wronged”, it’s like having plastic surgery to remove the scar
or taking an eraser and erasing the entry in the ledger.
But, just like making the
decision to have plastic surgery or erasing the entry we have to make the
decision to stop holding a grudge.
This morning we are going to
jump back into the Old Testament to see this demonstrated in a very practical
sense. 
There is a very familiar story
in the book of Genesis about a boy named Joseph, you probably remember him from
the story of Joseph and his coat of many colours.  Is it starting to sound familiar?
So here is the back
story.  Joseph’s father was Abraham’s
Grand-son Jacob, and Jacob had a pile of kids.  
And out of all his children he had a favourite.  That happens sometimes, my sister was the
favourite. 
That’s my story, her story is
slightly different.  H.C. Wilson is fond
of saying that “Where you stand is determined by where you sit.”
But in the case of Joseph and
his siblings it was evident to all that Joseph was the favourite.  His father gave him the proverbially coat of
many colours, which was really a really fancy robe. 
Those in the know tell us that
this robe not only showed Joseph’s standing but also bestowed special
privileges on Joseph as the favoured son. 
It would be like you giving most of your kids work clothes and rubber
boats and then giving one kid a really nice suit. 
And this was even evidenced in
the story where we discover that while the rest of the brothers were out tending
the flocks, Joseph was at home with Dad and it was Joseph who was the one sent
out to check up on his siblings.  That
really endeared him to them.
But it went deeper than
that.  Joseph reveled in being the
favourite, he knew he was special and he wanted everyone else to know it as
well.  
And then he began having the
dreams.  If you know the story you know
the dreams.  Joseph had dreams that he
interpreted as meaning his brothers and sisters would all bow down to him. 
Joseph was much more excited
about sharing his dreams with his brothers than his brothers were when they
heard his interpretation of the dreams.
So, if you don’t know the
story, the other brothers are out tending the flocks Joseph is home and Jacob
sends his favourite son to check up on the others. 
To make a long story short the
other brothers sell Joseph into slavery, take his fancy coat dip it in animal
blood and tell their father that his favourite child had been killed.
They end up rid of Joseph and
Joseph ends up in Egypt as a slave.
Now I don’t want to spend a
lot of time here but there are a few things at the beginning of the story that
we need to understand if we are going to understand the end of the story. 
The first thing is Joseph was
a Jerk.  Seriously, there was nothing
Joseph could do about being his father’s favourite son, he didn’t write that
part of the story.
But he didn’t have to rub his
brother’s noses in it.  He flaunted the
fancy robe that his father had made for him, he made sure to let his father
know whenever one of the other brothers messed up. 
Not even to mention the entire
dream and the “you’re all going to bow down and worship me” thing.
No wonder the other kids
didn’t like Joseph, there wasn’t a lot there to like.  Often we are the author of our own
misfortunes. 
But that being said, His
Brothers Were Bigger Jerks
Come on guys, he was 17 years
old for crying out loud.  I was a jerk
when I was 17 and nobody sold me into slavery.  
Understand, I’m not saying that nobody wanted to sell me into slavery.  I’m just saying they didn’t.
Right from the account of the
Bible’s first family, there has been tension between siblings. You only have to
get four chapters into the bible and you see Cain killing his brother
Abel. 
The relationship you have with
your siblings will probably be the longest relationship you will ever have with
anybody, and it is so complicated and so messy.  
Jeffrey Kluger wrote “Your
parents leave you too soon and your kids and spouse come along late, but your
siblings know you when you are in your most inchoate form.”
You have probably said things
to your brothers and sisters that you wouldn’t think of saying to another human
being, unless you are a complete sociopath. 
Especially when you were a teenager.
I Love the story told about
the little boy in Sunday School class, the teacher was focusing on the Ten
Commandments and asked the class “Are there any commandments about how we
should treat our brothers and sisters?” 
The class sat and thought for a while and a little guy put up his hand
and said “Thou shalt not kill?”
Joseph’s brothers had
obviously missed that class because the original plan was to drop Joseph down a
dry well and let him starve to death.  So
technically they wouldn’t be killing him, Instead he gets a last minute
reprieve when they sold him into slavery for 20 pieces of silver.
For a minute, I want you to
focus on the path the story takes at this point.
It begins in Genesis 37:8  His brothers responded, “So you think you
will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And
they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about
them.
And so it begins with the
resentment they felt toward the younger brother.   It Started as a Feeling   That’s why Jesus warned people in Matthew
5:21-22  “You have heard that our
ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are
subject to judgment.’  But I say, if you
are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone
an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse
someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
Jesus knew that what starts in
the heart doesn’t stay in the heart.
And that’s what happens in the
story, let’s keep reading.
Genesis 37:18  When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they
recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him.
You see what happened.  What had started
in the heart had moved to the head.  It
may have started as an emotion but now It Became a Thought
Now they just weren’t feeling
cranky about their brother they are plotting his demise.   
But it didn’t end with the
thought, let’s keep going with the story.  
Genesis 37:28  So when the
Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him
out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the
traders took him to Egypt.
What started as a feeling
became a thought and then it Ended as an Action 
What was it that Ralph Waldo
Emerson said? “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a
habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a
destiny.”  And if you think Stephen Covey
said that you need to read more.  That’s
like thinking Chris Tomlin wrote Amazing Grace.
And it all started because the
brothers felt that Joseph had done them wrong and they couldn’t get past
that.  Whatever love they had felt for
little Joe when he was born had been dissolved in the acid of resentment.  
Hold on to that, we’ll come
back to it later.
And there was a cost for them
because it hardened their souls, and there was a cost for their father because
he had lost a child and there was a cost for Joseph because he had lost his
freedom.
So, let’s get the timeline
straight.  Joseph was 17 when he was sold
into slavery.  A whole bunch of stuff
happened including jail time for a false allegation of assault but when Joseph
is 30 he has become an advisor to the Pharaoh and eventually ended up second in
command in the entire country. 
Joseph guides Egypt through 7
years of prosperity, stockpiling grain and food in preparation for a severe
reversal of fortunes which he had foretold from a dream that his boss had.
When the drought and famine comes
it not only affects Egypt but also Joseph’s home land and his brothers
eventually come with cap in hand looking for help. 
Now at this point they have no
way of knowing who Joseph was.  The last
they had seen their brother he was a seventeen-year-old slave.  Now he’s close to forty and the second most
powerful man in all of Egypt. 
If you haven’t read the story
it’s found in the bible at the end of Genesis. 
If you don’t have a bible mention it to one of the staff and we’ll give
you are really nice bible.
We still have the fast forward
button pushed down.  Joseph reveals who
he is to his brothers and has them move the entire family to Egypt. 
With this chapter in the story
closing we read In Genesis 47:11-12  So
Joseph assigned the best land of Egypt—the region of Rameses—to his father and
his brothers, and he settled them there, just as Pharaoh had commanded.  And Joseph provided food for his father and
his brothers in amounts appropriate to the number of their dependents,
including the smallest children.
Still with me?  The finger is still on fast forward, after
another 17 years Jacob, Joseph’s father, dies and his brothers all come to the
same conclusion. 
And it’s found in Genesis
50:15  But now that their father was
dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay
us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.  Which from their perspective made perfect
sense.
They knew what it felt to
harbour a grudge, to nurse it to keep it warm, to brood over all those slights
and hurts until they were impossible to forget. 
Liane Moriarty  wrote “They say it’s good to let your grudges
go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little
pet.”   And so the brothers figured that Joseph
had been doing what they would have been doing. 
So let’s land where we’ve been
heading all along.  Genesis 50:19-21  But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me.
Am I God, that I can punish you?  You
intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this
position so I could save the lives of many people.  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take
care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to
them.
So what do we learn from this
passage about not keeping a record of wrongs?
Genesis 50:19  But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me.
Am I God, that I can punish you?”
It Started as a Thought  It began when he Intellectually forgave them,
when he realized the futility of bearing a grudge. 
He must have read the book
Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience,  Where Steve Maraboli, writes  “When you hold a grudge, you want someone
else’s sorrow to reflect your level of hurt but the two rarely meet.”
So, it begins when
intellectually Joseph decides to let go of any bad feeling he might have toward
his brothers. It wasn’t something he felt, it was something he thought.
Notice the difference in the
timeline.  What the brothers did to
Joseph began as an emotion.  They felt
hatred, then they thought up a plan. 
Here forgiveness begins as a thought. 
First you have to first decide to forgive someone and then you forgive
them.
Genesis 50:20  You intended to harm me, but God intended it
all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many
people.
It Became a Feeling  It was after he made the decision that
emotionally he was able to forgive them.
And it was at that point that
he realizes the good that has come out of what had happened.
But it wasn’t enough that
Joseph had moved from an intellectual understanding to an emotional
releasing.  Let’ keep reading.
Genesis 50:21  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take
care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to
them.
So you see the progression,
what started as a thought became a feeling and It Ended as an Action  It was in his actions that his forgiveness
became a demonstration of love.  Not only
had he forgiven his brothers intellectually and emotionally, he had forgiven
them practically as well. 
In my last message I spoke
about the fact that the Greek word that was used here for “Love” was “Agape”
and it meant an unconditional love.
Agape is more an intellectual
response than an emotional response,  it
is more a decision of the mind than the heart. 
That’s why Jesus could tell us
in Matthew 5:43-45  “You have heard the
law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those
who persecute you!  In that way, you will
be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight
to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust
alike.
So, here is what you need to
take away from this week, “You will choose to keep a record of wrongs or you
will choose to not keep a record of wrongs, 
but understand it will be your choice.”
Elon Musk understood that when
he said, “Life is too short for long-term grudges.”
What is it that you need to
let go of?   I don’t know and probably
the person that you are holding the grudge against doesn’t know, but you
do.  But remember, Love keeps no record
of wrongs.

It’ Not Who, It’s How Many?

I wonder if Stephen Harper feels vindicated? He should!

In 2005 when he suggested that same sex marriage was a slippery slope that could led to the further redefinition of marriage, including the possibility of polygamy, the media and government ridiculed the suggestion.
When I mentioned polygamy to our MP he couldn’t understand how I could jump to that conclusion.  Duh!
Fast forward 12 years later. 

This week Winston Blackmore was found guilty of polygamy in British Columbia.  Following the ruling, his lawyer, Blair Suffredine, told the court he would launch a constitutional challenge of Canada’s polygamy laws.  After all, if we can’t be told who we can marry why should we be told how many we can marry?

In a society that says that it is morally acceptable for Bob to marry Bill then why isn’t it morally acceptable for Bob to marry Sue, Anne, Betty, Freda and Bill? Or for Bob to marry his sister or his Saint Bernard for that matter?
The government has already told those of us to the right, that just because something offends our morality doesn’t make it wrong.
Society has even declared that the moral views of the Bible can’t be a yardstick for the nation, so how do they plan on deciding what’s right and what’s wrong?

Have a great week and remember: Some things you have to believe to see!

Summer of Love: Love is not Jealous

George Harrison was there, as were The Who, Janice Joplin, Jimi
Hendrix and Jerry Garcia. 
They had joined the so called hippies and flower children who had
descended on San Francisco to celebrate, demonstrate and as Timothy Leary so
famously said to  “Turn on, Tune In and
Drop Out.”
And this year there will be celebrations recognizing what happened
that summer.  
But that wasn’t all that happened in the United States 50 years
ago.  As the City of San Francisco was
trying to deal with the logistics of feeding and sheltering 100,000 teens and
young adults the rest of the country was dealing with something of a much
darker nature.
There will be no celebrations to remember was has been called the
“Long Hot Summer of 1967.
In the summer of 67, 159 Race riots broke out in Detroit and Tampa
and all places in between.  Before the
summer was over 76 people would have died more than 2,100 were injured and over
11,000 arrests were made.  
The images of that event were very different than what was happening
on the West Coast and there will be no celebrations to recognize the “Long Hot
Summer of 1967”
This Summer at Cornerstone we are celebrating a different “Summer of
love” as we spend ten weeks focused on 1 Corinthians 13.
This is week 3 of our series and as we’ve done the past two weeks,
this week we are going to read the Passage together. 
1 Corinthians 13:1-13  If I
could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I
would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I
understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had
such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be
nothing.  If I gave everything I have to
the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t
love others, I would have gained nothing. 
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or
rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no
record of being wronged.  It does not
rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is
always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages
and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!  Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete,
and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!  But when full understanding comes, these
partial things will become useless.  When
I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up,
I put away childish things.  Now we see
things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with
perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will
know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  Three things will last forever—faith, hope,
and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Last week we looked at the first two positive attributes of Love,
Patience and Kindness.  And we talked
about how we need to be patient with Ourselves, with Others and With God.  And then we looked at how we needed to be
kind to others, that one was kind of a no-brainer.  
This week we are going to take the next step in verse four where we
are told that Love is not Jealous.
So let’s begin with The Definition of Jealous. 
When we think of the word “Jealous” we think of being jealous of
someone or something. 
That is, we are afraid they are sharing their affections, or sharing
more than just their affections, with another person or thing.  We can be jealous of people, of things, I’ve
heard wives say, “I’m sure he loves that motorcycle, car, boat, fill in the blank
more than he loves me”.  And people can
be jealous of activities.  Like work or
hobbies, and sometimes with good reasons.
Which lines up with what Robert A. Heinlein wrote “Jealousy is a
disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for
the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy – in
fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the
other.”
And when we think of love in the sense of romantic love that makes
sense, Love is not Jealous.
However. . . How many folks here have ever seen the movie “The
Princess Bride”?  How many have seen it
more than once?  Yeah, it’s that type of
movie. 
And there is a great line in it, one of the characters is always
using the word “Inconceivable” and finally we hear this response from another
character says “you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you
think it means.”
And when we use Jealous in this passage, I do not think it means
what you think it means.
You see, the word jealous fits well when this passage is read at
weddings or we think of it as applying to marriage but while 1 Corinthians 13
does apply to weddings and marriages, that isn’t what Paul was originally
intending the passage for.
We’ve been down this road before, but let’s go down it again.  We’ve spoken before about how the New
Testament was written in Greek and how that language tended to use more words
to reflect the meaning of a thought then we do in English. 
When you think about it the English language is a really lazy
language.  For example the word fast, you
ever think about what fast means.  It can
mean that you are quick, or it can mean that colours don’t run, or it can mean
to tie something up, or it can mean that someone is morally loose, or it can
mean to not eat, or it can mean that your watch has gained time or it can mean
that you are loyal or it can mean that you are sleeping soundly, or it can mean
that you are close to something.
Fast is a Homonym, which means the words sounds the same and are
spelled the same but they have different meanings.  Not to be confused with a Homophone which are
two words that are sound the same but are spelled differently.  Like The Bay of Fundy has the highest Tide in
the world, I wish I had of known that when I Tied my boat up.   Or I read the red book.
And while technically Love is a Homonym, think of love the emotion
and love the tennis score, it goes deeper than that.
We throw the word love around to mean almost anything we are fond
of.  I love “”America’s Got Talent” It’s
one of our summer guilty TV pleasures, along with Private Eyes.  I love convertibles, I love flying, I love
pizza, I love my kids, I love my wife, I love my grand-girls, and I love all of
you.  But I love each of those things in
different ways, but I describe my feelings with one word. 
The Greek language however has several different words that are used
to convey love for different things. 
First there is Eros, which is a sensual love, a passionate love.  Eros was the name of the Greek god of
desire.  The Romans called him
Cupid. 
Eros is the love that you should feel for your spouse.
The next form of love was Philia and this is the warm fuzzy feeling
we have for those nearest and dearest to us. 
This is friendship.  Have you ever
wondered why Philadelphia is called the city of brotherly love? 
Then there is Storge, and this is affection, what you feel for your
parents or children.  Many years ago, my
sister gave my mother a plaque that says, “I love you more then you love me,
because you have only loved me for part of your life and I have loved you for
all of mine.”  Cute. 
That was back when if you wanted to say things like, you bought
someone a plaque or a poster instead of simply tagging them in a meme on
Facebook. 
But Paul doesn’t use any of those words for love instead he uses the
word Agape.  And agape is less a feeling
of the heart and more a feeling of the mind. 
It is as much an act of the will as an act of the emotions.  It is why Jesus can tell us to love our
enemies.  It is a conscious action,
something that you decide to do and something that you cannot do without the
power of the Holy Spirit in your life.
So that’s a long meandering path to the fact that the word that the
New Living Translation translates as “is not Jealous” is more accurately
translated in the New International Version as
does not Envy or in the King James Version as does not covet.   
And there is a world of difference between Jealousy and envy as that
great 20th century scholar Homer Simpson once said “I’m not jealous! I’m
envious. Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have … envy is
wanting what someone else has.”
And that’s not entirely true. 
The Merriam Webster Dictionary states,  
“So while jealous may be used to mean both “covetous” and “possessively
suspicious”, envious is only comfortable in the first of those two senses”
So, with that in mind let’s look at The Danger of Envy 
You ever think about the Ten Commandments?  They got some big ticket items in there,
don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t give false testimony
against other people. 
And you can kind of understand those things, they attack the very
things that hold society together, but then the 10 commandments end by saying
Exodus 20:17  “You must not covet your
neighbour’s house. You must not covet your neighbour’s wife, male or female
servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbour.”
Story is told about the boy in Sunday School  and when the teacher asked if anyone knew
what the 10th Commandment was?  He said
“I do, you must not take the covers off your neighbour’s wife.”   Guess that works too.
And if the earlier commandments seem like felonies, then coveting
seems like a misdemeanor.   If the other
would warrant serious jail time surely covetousness would only deserve a slap on
the wrist or at the most a small fine.
But if that was the case then why bother putting it in the Ten
Commandments?  Seriously, most of us
could think of at least one commandment to replace the coveting one.  It would be littering for me.  Thou shalt not litter.
But coveting isn’t a harmless pastime,  listen to what Jesus says in Matthew
5:27-28  “You have heard the commandment
that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 
But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already
committed adultery with her in his heart.” 
So, Jesus tells us that adultery begins when you covet someone
sexually.
The first murder recorded in the bible happened in Genesis when Adam
and Eve’s oldest son Cain murdered his younger brother.  And that didn’t just happen out of the blue,
“I think I’ll kill Abel today.” 
It began with the two brothers offered sacrifices to God and the
bible tells us that God accepted Abel’s and rejected Cain’s.  The reasons are a whole other sermon.    And what began with Cain coveting that
acceptance ended with him murdering his brother.
Mark Twain nailed it when he wrote 
“There is no such thing as material covetousness. All covetousness is
spiritual. …Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol:
you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the
moment.”
The reason that “Do Not Covet” was included in the Ten Commandments
was that it is the seed that all the other sin’s spring from. 
It was the seed of covetousness that Satan sowed in the Garden with
Adam and Eve when he told them that they could be like God. 
It was the same seed that Satan tried to sow with Jesus when he
tempted him in the wilderness. 
And coveting what another person has will eventually destroy your
love for them.
Oliver Stone summed it up when he said “Never underestimate the
power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that.”
The best example of that danger is recorded in Matthew 27:18 . . .
the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.  
Jesus had what the religious leaders of the day didn’t have, he had
the respect of the people, he had an insight into God, he knew the truth and
they didn’t and they figured they couldn’t have what he had and if that was the
case then they didn’t want him to have it either. 
The religious leaders had Jesus killed because they coveted what he
had.
You see that is the reality of envy, in order for you to be happy it
is not enough for you to succeed, others must fail. 
There wasn’t room enough in the world of the religious leaders for
them and for Jesus, so for them the solution was to get rid of Jesus.
And that is why the New Testament is full of warning about
envy. 
Jesus warns us in Mark 7:21-23 
“For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual
immorality, theft, murder,  adultery,
greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and
foolishness.  All these vile things come
from within; they are what defile you.”
Did you catch what envy was lumped in with?  Murder, sexual immorality, theft,
wickedness.  And then Jesus tells us that
it makes you unacceptable to God.  Which
was why Paul warned the early church in 
Romans 1:29  Their lives became
full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling,
deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.
Envy is not a game, it is a sin and it is dangerous.  It’s dangerous for you and it’s dangerous for
your relationships. 
Which is why William Penn wrote more than 300 years ago  “Covetousness is the greatest of monsters, as
well as the root of all evil.”
So, what should we do? Good question, and a question that leads us
to  The Defense Against Envy
The first thing we must do is acknowledge that coveting is not just
a bad habit, that it is a sin.  Francis
Xavier wrote “I have heard thousands of confessions, but never one of
covetousness.”
Why would that be?  Because
people don’t take covetousness serious. 
But we need to.   Remember God
took it serious enough to include it in the 10 commandments.  Why? 
Because it is the seed of all other sins.  
And then we need to understand that if we are to win the battle
against covetousness it will only happen when we surrender ourselves to
contentment.
And that begins with understanding contentment.  Sometimes we think that being content means
we have no desire to better ourselves or to improve our lot in life.  So really poor people who don’t seem to want
to rise out of their poverty would seem to be content.  But that isn’t necessarily the truth. 
Or we think being content means having lots of money and toys and
not wanting or needing more.  But that
isn’t always the reality either.
Understand, money can’t buy contentment and poverty doesn’t
necessarily provide contentment.  
Contentment isn’t about possessions, it is a state of mind.
Charles Ryrie wrote,  “One can
be covetous when he has little, much or anything in between, for covetousness
comes from the heart, not from the circumstances of life.”
Covetousness robs us of the joy of what we already have.  Contentment allows us to experience that
joy.   And that doesn’t mean we don’t
strive for more.  But we strive for what
we can earn, what we can achieve and that doesn’t have to happen at the expense
of others.  They don’t have to lose it so
we can gain it. 
Years ago I read an article about a guy who rose really rapidly in a
company, he was always getting promoted. 
And when asked about it he said that he was always on the lookout for a
better position or job. . . for his immediate supervisor. And he would let them
know and recommend them he would do everything in his power to help them get
promoted. 
And contentment isn’t easy. 
If it was everybody would be content. 
But it would appear that in our sinful nature that Envy is the
default.  That’s why Paul wrote in
Philippians 4:11  . . . , for I have
learned how to be content with whatever I have.
Contentment didn’t just happen for Paul, he had to learn how to be
content.  And when he wrote to Timothy he
tells him, and by default he tells us.  1
Timothy 6:6-8  Yet true godliness with
contentment is itself great wealth. 
After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and
we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.  So if we have enough food and clothing, let
us be content.
Contentment is enjoying what we have and understanding that
discontentment is brought about by envy.  
And envy is basically selfish and usually completely unrealistic.  Because if we were honest, there are probably
good reasons why we don’t have what we don’t have.
Garrison Keillor sums it up when he wrote  “I think if the church put in half the time
on covetousness that it does on lust, this would be a better world for all of
us.”

You Can’t Change History

 I hope you enjoyed the Canada Day Celebrations and took some time to be thankful for what we enjoy as Canadians.
It was interesting to note this year the number of people who wanted to focus on some of the more unsavory aspects of our past.  And there are certainly any number of things that happened during the past 150 years that our country can’t be proud of, but I have never been able to figure out how today’s generation can apologize for what another generation has done.
Here is the reality, without Canada’s history, both the good and the bad, none of us would be here.  Oh, somebody would be here, but it’s very doubtful it would be us. 
So, remember each of us are where we are today because of choices that others made 150 years ago, choices of where they would live and who they would marry.
We are all the result of choices made by ourselves as well as choices made by others.   And we can’t change the choices that were made yesterday, but we can determine to make good choices today.
In the same way, we can’t change how our indigenous people were treated yesterday but we can change how they will be treated today and tomorrow.

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

Summer of Love: # 2

 How
many people remember the “Love is” comic strips?  You are really showing your age.
The comic was a collection of single panel
strips that began as a kind of private love story told by New Zealand artist
Kim Casali to her future husband Roberto.
It started with private little notes with a
small drawing that Kim wrote for Roberto, she’d tuck them in his pocket or send
them to him when he was travelling. 
What started as a private conversation
turned into booklets in the late sixties before appearing as syndicated comic
strip under the pen name “Kim” in 1970. 
The syndication coincided very closely to
the 1970 movie “Love Story” which of course contained the classic line
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry”  How remembers the movie?  Who cried at the movie? 
In response to that line Ray Bradbury
said  “In that film Love Story, there’s a
line, Love means never having to say you’re sorry. That’s the dumbest thing I
ever heard. Love means saying you’re sorry every day for some little thing or
other.”
And Kim must have agreed with Ray because
probably the most famous of her comics said, “Love Is…being able to say
you are sorry”, and it was published for years on cards, posters and
coffee cups. 
At its peak in the seventies “Love Is” was
earning Casali an estimated 10 million dollars a year.
And while it was never connected with the
Summer of Love it contained the sentiment of the event whose mantra was “Make
Love, Not War”.
But the statement “Love is . . .” goes back
a lot further than the 1960s.
This is the fiftieth anniversary of the
Summer of Love, when 100,000 Hippies and Flower Children descended on San
Francisco’s Haight Asbury district.  And
in 2017 we are celebrating the Summer of Love at Cornerstone by focusing on 1
Corinthians 13, the Bible’s chapter of Love.
And that’s where we find the statement
“Love is. . .”
A short portion of the scripture was read
for us earlier, now I’m going to invite you to stand as we read this
responsively.  I will read the white text
and you can read the yellow text. 
1 Corinthians 13:1-13  If I could speak all the languages of earth and
of angels, but didn’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging
cymbal. 
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I
understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had
such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I would be
nothing. 
If I gave everything I have to the poor and
even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others, I would have
gained nothing. 
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or
rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record
of being wronged. 
It does not rejoice about injustice but
rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is
always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages
and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 
Now our knowledge is partial and
incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole
picture! 
But when full understanding comes, these
partial things will become useless. 
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and
reasoned as a child.
But when I grew up, I put away childish
things. 
Now we see things imperfectly as in a
cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial and
incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows
me completely. 
Three things will last forever—faith, hope,
and love—and the greatest of these is love.
This morning we are going to focus on the
first part of  1 Corinthians 13:4  Love is patient and kind. . .
And so Paul begins by telling us that Love
is Patient  In the King James Version it
tells us that Love is “Long Suffering” and that probably draws a better word
picture here.  The Greek word that Paul
used always describes patience with people and not patience with circumstances.
And there is a vast difference, you can
embrace and embody patience with things, and your life verse can be Romans
12:12  Rejoice in our confident hope. Be
patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 
And even though you are patient in trouble and patient in circumstances
you can still be impatient with people and that isn’t what love is all about.
I don’t struggle with road rage but
sometimes I struggle with grocery store rage. 
“Seriously people, if you are going to meander don’t do it in the middle
of the aisle.”    And so, I need this as
much as anybody does.
So, who are we to be patient with?  I think that there are many of you, me
included, who need to learn to Be Patient with Yourself  You know what I mean, you hold yourself to a
much higher standard then you hold other people.
There are things you do, which you would
find excusable in others that are inexcusable in your own behavior. 
And your self talk reflects your
impatience, “I’m so clumsy” “I’m so stupid”, “I’ll never be able to do this”
“I’ll always be fat”. 
Lighten up a bit on yourself.  I don’t mean go to the other extreme, where
you excuse everything you do.  But just
be patient, don’t expect instant perfection or instant knowledge. 
It was Saint Francis de Sales who wrote
“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.”
One of the things that we often miss in
Jesus’ words is found in the account when Jesus was asked what the Greatest
Commandment was and most of you are familiar with his response.  Matthew 22:37-39  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your
God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest
commandment.  A second is equally
important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
If I was to ask you “How many commandments
are there?” Most of you would reply by saying “Two, love God and love our
neighbours.” 
But how are you supposed to love your
neighbour?  You are supposed to love them
as you love yourself.  And sometimes I
think that is the problem, we don’t even like ourselves very much and that is
reflected in how we treat those around us.
If there are things that you do, or don’t
do that bug you, you have a couple of options.
The first is if it’s something you can
change or learn, then do it.  Change it
or learn it, and be patient in the process. 
You can lose weight, you can beat that addiction, you can learn that new
skill.  But it might not happen
today.  So cut yourself a little slack.
And if it is something that you just aren’t
gifted in or don’t have the ability to do well, then do it the best that you
can and don’t beat yourself up about it because you can’t be as good as your
cousin’s nephew’s wife’s brother is at it.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote  “Good character is not formed in a week or a
month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient
effort is needed to develop good character.”
In the same vein, my mother had a plaque in
our kitchen when I was growing up that said “Yard by yard life is hard, inch by
inch it is a cinch.”  
You probably aren’t going to change
overnight, so just be patient with yourself.
In the letters that Paul wrote there are a
number that we call the pastoral letters Paul was writing and giving directions
to those who he had left in place to pastor and shepherd the early
churches. 
One of those letters was written to Timothy
and this is what Paul told him, 2 Timothy 2:24 
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be
able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
And perhaps as we develop more patience
with ourselves it will help us to  Be
Patient with Others
This is where dealing with grocery store
rage comes in, the fact that someone is blocking the cereal aisle for an extra
two minutes probably isn’t really that important in the big scheme of things.
And each of us is impatient with different
types of people.  Maybe you’ve never
experienced “grocery store rage” but you are more in line with Edith Sitwell
who wrote “I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”
Or perhaps you need to heed the advice of
the Jewish teacher Solomon ben Judah  who
taught “The test of good manners is to be patient with the bad ones.” I’m a
little obsessive about time, I hate being late for anything.  And I have very little patience for people
who are consistently late. 
It is something that I struggle with and it
is something that I have to work at.  And
yeah if I had more love it wouldn’t bother me that you were late, on the other
hand if you had more love you’d be a little more considerate of my time. 
And I have to be reminded every once in a
while that being early is no more on time than being late is.
 And
yeah, it even means being patient with jerks, which is probably why the older
translations refer to it as “Long Suffering”. 
Paul didn’t say it would be easy, as a matter of fact this type of
patience is listed as a fruit of the Spirit.  
In Galatians 5 we read Galatians 5:22  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of
fruit in our lives: and then Paul begins to list the characteristics that are
demonstrated by those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. . .
So, the question is, with the Spirit’s
help, how do we become more patient with people?  Start by praying for them.  It’s amazing how much difference that will
make in your outlook and how you see folks.
Start praying for yourself.  Often times the things that really bug you
about other people don’t bug them at all and maybe don’t bug anybody else.  Maybe it’s your problem not theirs.
Do you know why we are impatient with
people?  The reason you’re impatient with
people is probably the same reason I’m impatient with people.  Because they aren’t doing it my way. 
They aren’t driving the way I’d drive, they
aren’t shopping the way I’d shop, they aren’t parenting the way I’d parent,
they don’t preach the way I’d preach, they don’t enjoy the music I enjoy. 
If they’d only do it my way there’d be no
problem. 
Here’s a word of advice, you ready?  Get over it and get over yourself.  My way may be the best way for Denn, and
really it probably isn’t, but my way probably isn’t the best way for everyone
else or for anyone else for that matter. 
The next step is to become a little more
understanding. 
You know the old adage, “Never judge a
person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”  To which I usually add, “Then you’re a mile
away and you have their shoes.”  But the
reality is that you usually don’t know what type of day or what type of life
that person has been experiencing.
Even if you’re married to them you might
not fully understand all they are going through.
And once you stop and think about the other
stuff that might be shuffling around in their lives it might help you to be a
little more patient in the areas where their lives intersect yours.
The first two probably make sense to you
but how about this, true love means that you learn to Be Patient with God
Honestly, have you ever been disappointed
with God? Wondered why He did or didn’t do what he did or didn’t do?  That he didn’t heal you or a loved one, that
he didn’t give you that job that you knew would be perfect or that he didn’t
make your husband or your wife or your child or your friend a Christian? Or
that he didn’t do it when you thought he should do it.
Sometimes, just plain and simple God isn’t
going to operate outside of the limits that he has put in place.  And one of those limits is free will. 
We want to have free will but too often we
want God to take that same gift away from other people. 
So, we pray “Please God make my spouse or
my child or my friend a Christian.”  And
that sounds like a good prayer, a prayer that should be in the will of
God. 
But, did he make you become a Christian or
did he allow you to make that decision? 
Or we pray “don’t let my child make bad
decisions” or “take away my desire for making bad decisions.”  And then we are disappointed because we make
those bad decisions and become impatient with God and blame him for not
stopping us from doing what we choose to do.
But God doesn’t work by removing our free
will and making us to do some things and not do other things.
Nope, he will bring people into their path
and into your path to help you make the right decision but at the end of the
day you are paddling your own Canoe. 
(That is a cultural reference inserted at this point to help celebrate
Canada’s 150th birthday.)
And sometimes, as hard as it is to
admit,  God, creator of all things,
master of the universe is smarter than we are. 
Really, he is.
The reason we get impatient with God is the
same reason we get impatient with people, he doesn’t do it our way or in our
time.
In the first 10 years that Cornerstone was
a church we worshipped in rented facilities and I was always looking for
property to build on, and I found five different “perfect” properties.  And they all fell through. 
I was so impatient with God, “What was he
thinking? Didn’t he understand?” 
Of course none of those pieces of property
were at a set of lights, across from not one but 2 Tim Hortons with 18,000 cars
a day passing by.  Maybe that’s what he
was thinking of. 
There is a statement in Hebrews chapter 11
that comes when the author of the book is describing heroes of faith in the Old
Testament it says Hebrews 11:13  All
these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not
receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.
. . 
We will get to see some of God’s promises
fulfilled, and there will be others that we will die still believing what God
has promised us.
God wants the very best for us, Paul
reminds us in  Romans 2:4  Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant,
and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that
his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
We need to learn to be patient with God,
after all he’s been patient with us.
And God wants us to be patient and he wants
to give us patience.    Did you catch
that?  The patience you need isn’t
learned it is given.
In Galatians we are told that is comes when
our lives are controlled by the spirit and listen to Paul’s prayer for the
Christ Followers who lived in Rome: 
Romans 15:5  May God, who gives
this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each
other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.   
That’s my prayer for you, May God, who
gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with
each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.   
And then we are told that not only is love
patient but that love is Kind  Wanting to
make sure I understood all the nuances of this word I went back to original
language to look at the Greek word that Paul used here that is translated as
“kind”.  
And then I read six different commentaries
and they all agreed that the original meaning of the word kind actually meant.
. . “kind”.
So how does that work in real life, just
don’t be a jerk and be nice to people. 
Smile, say please, hold doors and be pleasant.  Kindness is another characteristic that is
mentioned in Galatians 5 as evidence that the Holy Spirit is in control of your
life.   
We can hold true to our doctrines and
theology and not be kind.
William Barclay wrote in the Daily Study
Bible,  “So much Christianity is good but
unkind. There was no more religious a man than Philip the Second of Spain, and
yet he founded the Spanish Inquisition and thought he was serving God by
massacring those who thought differently from him.”
I think I’d disagree with Barclay when he
said “So much of Christianity is good but unkind”  to “Some of Christianity is good but
unkind”.  We can’t excuse the unkindness
of Christians but remember that through the ages so much of the goodness and
kindness in this world has come through those who follow Christ and seek to
emulate him by taking care of the sick, defending the weak and feeding the
hungry.
So in closing, let’s each of  us remember the instructions that Paul gave
Timothy. . .  2 Timothy 2:24  A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but
must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult
people.
Be kind to everyone and be patient with
difficult people, it isn’t easy.  But it
is love.