But it works. . .

The other day I was working on my laptop and after doing a fairly standard cut and paste in the document I had open, I had a startling revelation. I had no idea how the computer did what it did.

I mean it wasn’t exactly putting someone on the moon, but still, how did this box of wires and circuits know what I wanted it to do? It allowed me to select a block of text, copy it to some predefined area of memory and then retrieve it and paste it into a completely different spot. Cool!

Now I have been using PCs for over 35 years (do you remember the Sinclair ZX81?) so I’m not a novice, but how does a computer do that?

I would suspect there’s not one person in a thousand who could actually explain it. But that doesn’t stop the rest of us from using our computers every day, cutting and pasting to our heart’s desire.

So how come people say they couldn’t become a Christ follower because they don’t understand all the Bible? I have a confession for you: I don’t understand all the Bible either.

Shocked? But the fact that I don’t understand it all doesn’t mean I can’t accept what I do understand. Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible

The Language of Love

By now you have figured out the song is “Love and Marriage” and it was first recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1955.  But that wasn’t the only time it was recorded.  Sinatra recorded it again on a different label and it has been covered by Peggy Lee, Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby and in 2010 it was recorded by the Ska Band “Less than Jake”.

And of course the song opens with words, “Love and marriage, love and marriage

They go together like a horse and carriage

This I tell you, brother

You can’t have one without the other”

This is week 3 of our Love and Marriage Series.  In week one we looked at what defines a Biblical marriage along with what a Biblical Marriage isn’t.  Last week we looked at God’s wedding Gift. . .  Sex and the purposes of sex within marriage and the problems with sex outside of marriage.

And if you missed either of those messages you can find them on our website or our Facebook page.

This week we are looking at “The Language of Love”.

Communication is so important in marriage, but not just saying something, but saying the right something.

In one show of Married with Children Peg told Al, “Al, when I married you for richer or poorer, I thought we’d try one and then the other and then choose. I think we’ve gone just about as far as we can go with the first one.”  I’m not sure that those were the words that Al wanted to hear or that built up his self-esteem.”

Friedrich Nietzsche once commented “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”  Most couples start off as friends, but as they stop communicating that friendship begins to fail and then the marriage begins to fail.


Through the years I’ve read various books on marriage and communication, and there are two that I wished that I had found when I was beginning my ministry, to recommended to couples who were getting married.

And it would have been super helpful if I had of discovered them when we were first getting married 36 years ago.

And understand, these books aren’t scripture, they aren’t infallible, and you might not even agree with them, but I found them helpful and maybe you will.

The first is “Men are like Waffles Women are like spaghetti” by Bill and Pam Farrel.


This Helped me Understand the Language of Gender


The premise of the book, and again it is a generalization, is that with men, we tend to be compartmentalized, like waffles.  We put all of our life in boxes with walls around them.

So, this is my work box, and this is my family box, and this is my watching TV box, or in my case my reading a novel box.  And this is my . . . nothing box.

This is the most amazing thing and women have a hard time understanding it, and that is that men can think about . . . nothing, and relish in it.

And it often gets us in trouble because your wife will look at you as you gaze into space and ask, “What are you thinking about?”  and you honestly and innocently say “Nothing”

And their eyes cross and they get confused looking and they say “Well you can’t be thinking about nothing. What are you thinking about that you don’t want to tell me?”  Seriously, ladies, the nothing box is one of my favourite places.

And while it seems that as men get older that their boxes begin to merge the reality is that we are just getting faster at jumping from one box to another.

On the other hand, In the minds of women, everything connects.  Just like spaghetti where one noodle touches every other noodle on the plate.   Where this really comes into play is in communication.  And all of those connections are powered by emotions.

So when a man says “Hey babe, what are you thinking about?”  He thinks she will just open the box and tell him what the problem is, and then he will reach into his answer box and tell her what the solution is.   Nope.  She says, “I’m just thinking about work.”

And he thinks that she’s thinking about work, but she’s thinking about work and how things are changing, and when the cotton mill was invented it put all kinds of people out of work, and what if technology changes and puts her out of work.  And they were kind of counting on her salary to help put the kids through college, and if that doesn’t happen than the kids might not go to college and instead end up hanging around with the wrong crowd and get in trouble and rebel against the church wind up pregnant or  in jail, and she says “Let’s go pray over the kids”  And he’s confused because he’s still looking in the work box and they don’t even have kids yet.

So, we need to understand that when we communicate with our spouse, we might be speaking the same language, but the dialect is different.

The second book that I wished I had discovered much earlier than I did is called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman.

Chapman is a counsellor who began to see that in relationships that what couples were trying to express to their mates wasn’t always being received.  Remember the old Verizon commercial?  “Do you hear me now?”

Couples want to express their love, in most cases, but they weren’t necessarily using the same language as their spouse to communicate that love.

And Chapman came to the conclusion that we may hear “I love you” in different languages and he identified five of those.  And that may seem like a lot, but to put in perspective, I’m heading to Uganda on Tuesday and they have 40 different languages in use in the country and 3 official languages.

The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman are 1. Receiving Gifts  2. Quality Time 3. Words Of Affirmation 4. Acts Of Service and 5. Physical Touch.

The problem, of course, is that if we feel loved in one way we might assume that our spouse feels loved the same way.  And we’ll come back to that.

Again, this book isn’t scripture, not infallible but This Helped me Understand the Language of Love

So, I thought, I wonder how Jesus expressed love for people?  And I discovered that it depended on the person that he was relating to.  Jesus was multi-lingual in the love languages.

Shortly before Jesus went to the cross he spoke these words to his apostles, John 13:34  So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

So, for a little bit this morning we are going to look at the love languages as spoken by Jesus and what we can learn from them, so we can love others as Jesus loved.

Matthew 16:17-19  Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.  Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Jesus Realized that Some People Feel Loved Through Words of Affirmation

Can you imagine how Peter felt when Jesus spoke these words into his life, affirming him?

Whatever self-doubt Peter might have had at that point would have been washed away when Jesus said, “You are a rock.  I believe in you so much that I will build my new church on you.  I trust you so much that I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

After Peter had denied Christ on Good Friday, on Easter Morning when Jesus appeared to Mary and the other women he made sure that they especially told Peter that he had risen from the dead.  In John 21 we see Jesus meeting with Peter on the shore of the sea of Galilee, once again Jesus is speaking words of encouragement into Peter’s life.

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” That may have worked for Mark but most of us need a compliment more than just every couple of months.

And that is especially true of those who have “Words of Affirmation” as a love language.  They need to hear, “thank you”, and “I love you” and “you are special”.   Compliments and encouragement go a long way and criticism and corrections cut especially deep for these folks.

It’s not that you shouldn’t correct them, but you need to heed the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:15 to not just speak the truth but to speak the truth in love.

But it wasn’t just through words that Jesus expressed his love, let’s keep reading in the Jesus story,  Mark 1:40-42  A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.  Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”  Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

Jesus Realized that Some People Feel Loved through Physical Touch

There was nobody that longed for a physical touch more than the lepers of Jesus’ day.  They were ostracized from those they loved and even from those they hated.  They had to live outside of the city gates and have no contact with anyone who didn’t share their disease.

If Jesus’ touch hadn’t of healed this man physically it had already healed him spiritually and emotionally.    Jesus’ touch said, I love you and care about you.  You matter to me as a person.

And so there are those who hear love through physical touch, and no, this language isn’t all about the bedroom.  Although there is some of that.  This person craves hugs, holding hands, pats on the back or a touch on the cheek.

These are all ways they hear love.  And so, when someone pulls away from that, the person whose love language is physical touch hears and feel rejection.  Whether that feeling is warranted or not.

Interestingly this is one of my primary languages, which may strike you as funny because I’m not known as a huggy person and I don’t like the touch of strangers.   But when you think about it, for a person whose love language is physical touch the touch of strangers can be a little creepy.

Physical touch doesn’t require a lot of time or money but it does require a little thought.

Touching each other when you leave the house and when you return may involve only a brief kiss but speaks volumes.

Let’s continue to watch Jesus express his love to people.

John 13:3-5  Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.  So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,  and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

Jesus Realized that Some People Feel Loved Through Acts of Service

The story might seem a little weird to us, but 2000 years ago it would have made sense, in a way.  Remember there were no paved roads in Palestine the roads and paths were dusty in the dry season and muddy in the wet season.  And footwear, when there was footwear, was simply open sandals.  And so, people’s feet were perpetually dirty.

And so, at the door of each home was a container of water for people to wash their feet in, and in fancy homes, there would be a servant who would wash your feet when you arrived.

When Jesus took the time to wash the feet of his apostles it was sending a message telling them how much he cared for them.

The person whose primary language is acts of service gives and receives love through what they do.  Maybe it’s keeping the housework done, or taking out the garbage without being asked, helping with the chores and keeping the car clean.

So, when one person sees acts of service as a demonstration of love and the other person just see it as something that has to be done or something to be avoided we see conflict.

The person who feels loved by what people do for them feels rejected when lawns aren’t mowed, garbage isn’t taken out, laundry isn’t folded, and shirts aren’t ironed.

Let’s keep going.

Matthew 15:32-37  Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”  The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”  Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”  So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground.  Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.  They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food.

Jesus Realized that Some People Feel Loved Through Receiving Gifts

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see him giving of himself culminating with his giving his life on Calvary, but it is instances like this that we see Jesus giving a tangible gift.

He recognized that the people that day didn’t just have a spiritual need or an emotional need, but they also had a physical need and he met that need with a gift of food.

The people were hungry, and he gave them food, something they needed right then.

This is probably the love language that people understand the easiest.  When we are courting we give each other gifts, boxes of chocolates, flowers, nice meals.

And we do that to express our love.  And for some people that is their love language and for them nothing says “I love” you more than a gift.

Or as Gina Gershon said, “If it’s a really good gift, I love receiving it, like jewels, small islands.”

But don’t mistake this for materialism; this isn’t about the gift, it is about the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift.  They are given something tangible and in it they see an expression of love.

And when they give a gift you know that they took the time to think about what that gift would mean to the receiver.

As Gary Chapman wrote,  “A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money.”

And there is one more,

John 11:17-22  When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.  Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem,  and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss.  When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus Realized that Some People Feel Loved Through Quality Time

 I don’t think there was any home where we see Jesus spending more time in than the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha.   It was here we read the story of Mary sitting listening to Jesus while Martha got dinner ready, it was here that Mary was criticized for washing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume, and when Lazarus dies, Jesus makes a four-day trip to be with the sisters.

Mary was receiving the gift of quality time when Jesus came to the house and she gave the gift of quality time when she sat at his feet to learn.

It’s what Jesus promised the apostles and us when he said in Matthew 28:20  Jesus said “. . . And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

For some people their language of love is Quality time, It’s not just time, it’s quality time.  It’s not just being there physically, it’s being there completely.  With the phone down, the TV off and making eye contact.

Back in October, we had a 6-hour visit with friends that we had not seen since we left Australia, 23 years ago, and we may not see again.  You can be sure that we made every minute that we spent with them count.

For those who give and receive love through quality time, minutes count.   Nobody on their deathbed is going to say, “I wish I had spent less time with the ones I loved.”

Those who value this language are looking for your undivided attention, that shows them how much you love them.  For them, you spell love T.I.M.E.

And remember you can’t make time, time already is, you can only find time.  So find time on your calendar and mark your loved one in.

Dave Willis writes “Love your spouse more than you love your career, hobbies, and money. That other stuff can’t love you back.”

This is important, learn to speak the love language your spouse understands.  Otherwise, you’re like the obnoxious tourist simply speaking slower and louder because you can’t speak the language.


We are all familiar with the Golden Rule, not the one about “He who has the gold makes the rules.”  But the real golden rule the one Jesus put in place in Matthew 7:12  “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”  Your spouse wants to know that you love them, like you want to know they love you.   And we do that when we speak our love in a language that they understand.

And here’s a warning, remember Paul told us to speak the truth in love?  It’s just as important that w speak love in truth, don’t use your partner’s love language to manipulate or to get your own way.

Speak it because you love them, and you want them to know that you love them.

If you are interested in finding out what your love languages are, the book includes a test in the back or you can go online to Gary Chapman’s Website www.5lovelanguages.com

And I have a copy of each of these books that I want to give away, if you are getting married in the next year just take a connection card, that’s one of the blue cards in front of you and write your name and wedding date on it, hand it to me at the door and I will make sure that the couple getting married the soonest gets a copy of both of the books I mentioned.



What’s Your Emergency?

I’m sure it seemed like an emergency at the time.  When the 911 operator, in Leeds Ontario, answered the phone with the familiar line, “911, what’s your emergency?” they probably weren’t expecting the reply.

It seems that a 21-year-old woman from Quebec had spent the night gambling at the Shoreline Casino and suddenly she realized that she was broke.  Her emergency was that she didn’t have enough cash to get home.  To me, that seems more like a “call a friend” call and not a “911” call.

After someone at the casino gave her $20.00 she called 911 back to let them know the emergency had been averted.

The Leeds Police used the incident to remind citizens that 911 was for emergencies only.

Sometimes we use prayer as if it were 911, we only reach out to God when there is an emergency or perceived emergency in our lives.  The kids are sick, we’ve lost our job or we can’t find our car keys.  The difference is that we seldom call back to say the emergency was averted.

But really, prayer shouldn’t be “911” call instead it should be more of a “Call a friend” type call.

Throughout God’s word, we are reminded that prayer isn’t for emergencies only.

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


Sex. . . God’s Wedding Gift

“Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.”


The song was written by Sammy Cahn in 1955 and recorded by Frank Sinatra.  It was originally used the 1955 television production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”.  Which happens to be the first High School Drama I was in, not the 1955 version.   And in 1956 the song went on to win the Emmy for best Musical Contribution.



When I was young I was told that there were three things you never talked about in polite company.  Sex, religion and Politics.


I have discovered when it comes to politics that I now find myself in an awkward place where I am too conservative to be a liberal and too liberal to be a conservative.


With the politics out of the way let’s move on to the next two.  Wow, the Pastor is actually going to talk about sex in church.


That may or may not make you feel a little uncomfortable.  As a matter of fact, through the years the church and Christianity has gotten a reputation for being anti sex.  And at times that has probably been a justified view.


However, I don’t think that it necessarily had it roots in the scriptures.  Sex was not just something that humanity stumbled into, “Wow this is kind of cool, let’s do it again.”

It was part of creation and it was a part of the plan.   It’s things like sex and reproduction that make the case for creation and intelligent design the most intelligent choice.  Really if it didn’t work in the first generation then wouldn’t have been a second generation.  How would that have evolved?


It all began in the beginning, which when you think about it is a really good place for it to begin.  Now I know that some people teach and have been taught that original sin was sex and that was why the first couple was expelled from the Garden of Eden.  The theological term for that teaching is “A crock.”  Here is the account of creation that was read earlier,  Genesis 1:27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.


So to start God made boys, boys, and he made girls, girls.  And the parts were all in place and they all worked.  This happened before original sin and before the fall and yet at that point Adam and Eve were already fully functioning models.


And then God gives them directions as to what to do with all the fiddly bits.  We read in Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.”  Now listen to what it says at the end of Genesis 1:30 . . . And that is what happened.  And the very next verse says Genesis 1:31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!


And time and time again throughout the scriptures we are reminded that sex is God’s gift to us.   And sometimes that’s a shock because most of us are convinced that our generation created sex or at least discovered sex, especially if you are child of the sixties or seventies.  Got news for you, there was only one virgin birth and you weren’t it.


And if we don’t think that our generation created sex, then we think we are the first generation to enjoy it.  Wrong again. It has been the way it is since creation, sex didn’t evolve, it hasn’t gotten better.


If anything as we have moved away from creation and that initial intimacy we have moved away the fullest enjoyment of sexual intimacy as well.


So, with that being said Sex is not a sin, however within the scriptures, the word of God, we see the act of sex reserved for marriage.   Within the Old Testament there were penalties laid down for both pre-marital and extra marital sex and both were condemned in the New Testament.


And so, while sex is not considered a sin in the bible, sexual activity outside of marriage is in fact a sin that’s why we have scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 5:11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.


Or  Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.


The word that is translated “Sexual Immorality” in the New Living Translation is translated “fornication” in the Older Translations and word used in the original Greek is the Greek Word “Porneia”, sound familiar?  And it means sex out side of marriage and the bible says that is not acceptable behavior for a Christ Follower, wasn’t then and it isn’t now.


So, we should be able to stop at this point.  The Bible says that we should avoid sex out side of marriage so as believers we will do what the Bible says.


Some people think the reason the Bible speaks so adamantly against sex outside of marriage is that it tries to ruin all our fun.  But there are reasons for those guidelines and that’s what we are looking at today.


So here are a couple of thoughts. Let’s start with  1) The Purpose of Sex within a Marriage


Actually that should be 1) The Purposes of Sex within a Marriage If there is a problem with this point it is that too many people want to take the “s” off of Purposes and they want to reduce the act of sex to a single purpose.  And then they want to choose what that purpose is.


So, what are the purposes of sex?  A) Procreation.   That is to make babies.  That goes back to Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.”


I always marvel at people who end up pregnant and then tell me “I don’t know how it happened.”  Seriously?  We are told how it happens almost continuously in school, probably from a much earlier age then we need to be told.


And as much as we are told, people just don’t seem to get it.


When I was in grade 11 I remember having an ongoing debate with my math teacher, asking him “How will algebra help me in life?” “When will I ever need to know that a + b = c?”  And he would say “trust me you’ll use it.”


With all due respect to any math teachers here, he was wrong.  But the “How babies are made” that seemed to be a fairly practical course.


If the human race doesn’t reproduce then the human race will cease to exist and there is an innate need in most of us to reproduce.  Whether it is the desire for immortality that we feel that we continue to exist through our children and their children or simply that parental instinct there is in both male and female.  That “let’s make a baby” feeling.


Now if you could do a cost benefit analysis and work those things out through a mere balance sheet the human race would come to a complete halt.  Changing diapers, sleepless nights, worry, the teenaged years.  Boy on a simple scale you would need to have a lot of tangible benefits on the other side to even that thing up.  But that’s not what being a parent is about.


And so, the first purpose of sex is making babies.  And for some people they would say that is the only purpose.   And they are wrong.


  1. B) the Second Purpose is Pleasure. Throughout the scriptures the act of sex is equated with pleasure in both the New Testament and Old Testament. One entire book, The Song of Solomon or Song of Songs, chronicles with the desire of two lovers for one another.  It is a beautiful love song that may make you blush.


We are warned about the dangers of sexual sin in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20  Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.  Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,  for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.


And some people think that’s the primary teaching of the bible on sex, and sometimes preachers and churches stop with the warning, but in the very next chapter we read 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.


Did you catch that? There is to be a mutuality in meeting each other’s needs and desires. It’s not simply all about “you” singular it is all about “you” plural.


It wasn’t like God created us and then said “Oops, that wasn’t supposed to feel that good, oh well it’s too late to change it.”


So, sex is there not just for procreation and not even just for pleasure but for our mutual pleasure.


If you are a proponent of evolution then you would believe that we simply evolved so that sex felt good in order to promote reproduction.


But if you believe that we were designed and created by God, then you understand that he created sex for our pleasure, not just to make babies.


  1. C) There is a Partnership Really wasn’t sure what to call this but tried to stay with a “P” for the alliteration . In the first definition of the marriage relationship shortly after creation we read this Genesis 2:24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  As a matter of fact, that scripture was probably read at your wedding.  There is a spiritual aspect of love making that should never be ignored or downplayed.


This is not just a physical act it is a giving of one self to another person and through that a bond is created that is unlike any other bond.  In an article on the Ethics and Medics Online website I discovered this article by  Dianne S. Vadney  ”A study of the human biochemistry associated with sexual intercourse suggests there is nothing casual about human sexuality. The delicate biochemistry of the human person seems to be designed and ordered to respond to intercourse by forming exclusive, intimate, stable pair-bonds that favour permanency. . .“  In other words, two become one.


If you are going to spend a lifetime living with the same person, it will take more then simply liking one another and picking up your socks to keep things together.


Often when people begin to drift apart physically then they begin to drift apart emotionally and spiritually.


In 37 years of pastoral ministry I’ve never had a couple sit across from me for counselling who have said “you know the entire marriage is falling apart but our sex life is great.”


  1. D) There are the Physical Benefits. The medical profession has been saying for years that a healthy sex life has physical benefits. Benefits ranging from increased immunities, better circulation, pain and stress relief,  the release of endorphins makes your feel better about life in general and the release of prolactin helps you sleep better.



One report even suggests that sex balances out the good cholesterol to bad cholesterol ratio, and at the same time reduces the overall cholesterol count in the body.  A Queens University study shows a reduction in the chance of stroke or heart attack as another of the physical benefits of sex.  So, if you want to keep your spouse alive longer.  On the other hand. . .


So, you’re probably thinking, “So what’s the problem?”


2) The Problem of Sex outside of Marriage Actually that should be 2) The Problems of Sex outside of Marriage


The first is A) Procreation Really doesn’t matter if it happens inside or outside of marriage, sex still makes babies, and people are still surprised when it happens.


I don’t think we have to provide a lot of research to discover that in most cases life is better for all involved when a child is conceived in a loving and stable relationship.  And I say in most cases not all because I know that all generalizations are wrong.


Childrearing is tough when there are two I can’t even begin to imagine how tough it is for single moms.  Education and dreams are put on hold or cancelled.  And recent studies show that the probability of eventual marriage drops significantly for single moms.


And for the father, there is a responsibility financially and emotionally.  Even if you choose to not marry the mother because it was just a “fling” you will be tied to her through your child.


And that doesn’t even get in to the challenges that your child will face.



  1. B) Pleasure So what’s the problem here? It becomes pleasure for pleasure sake. When sex takes place outside of the marriage bed its main objective is pleasure.  Your pleasure.


And so that becomes the quest.  Pleasure becomes your ultimate objective and your god.  It’s not about “you” plural it’s about “you” singular.


And it is for the moment, no thought for the future.


We need to realized that sex is not just a physical act. There is a spiritual and emotional dimension to sex. If you leave them out, then you lower it to the level of animals. And then you are guided by the same instincts that guide a tom cat when he heads out at night. Which is why the scripture warns of the consequences of that philosophy,  Ephesians 4:19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.


  1. C) There is a Partnership Let’s go back to the two become one concept.


I had a conversation with a young man awhile back and he told me “You have to be careful when you have sex because each time you’re giving the other person a little bit of yourself.”  Not a believer mind you and he had it pegged.


Now is time for our object lesson, why should they have all the fun in junior church?


Here we have two containers one pink and one blue, you figure it out.  And five times in the scriptures we read about two being united and becoming one.  (pour the two containers into the centre one.)


And the one is different, not worse just different.


But what happens when the one becomes two again?  (pour the one container back into the two) You are never the same because of what you’ve taken and what you’ve given.  And what happens when that is repeated over and over again?


A recent study showed that the average American has 7 sexual partners in their life time.  So what happens when you repeat that seven times?


  1. B) There is the Physical Sex is a physical act, a very intimate physical act, we’re not talking shaking hands here or even a kiss on the cheek.


One of the topics they teach in school, and hear about over and over again, is “Safe sex.”  Boy if I had a nickel for every dollar spent on safe sex ads.


Actually, it’s gotten so they don’t teach morals in the sex ed classes what they teach is “We know you can’t be good so be careful”.


Do you want to know the only safe sex?  It is when you are in a monogamous relationship with a faithful partner.  And that is it.


When we first moved to Australia they had a great ad on television that I have tried without luck to find online.  And it shows a couple in bed and the narrator says “When you sleep with someone, you sleep with everyone they have ever slept with”.   And the camera pans out and there are couples in beds around the original couple. And the narrator continues “And everyone they have every slept with and everyone they have ever slept with.”  And the camera continues to pan out to a football stadium filled with couples in beds.


And every encounter brings the protentional for each partner to pass something on, and some of what is passed along sexually is a nuisance and some is fatal, and you don’t get to choose which it is.

Has anyone ever heard of Dr. Edmond Locard?  He was known as the “French Sherlock Holmes” and is famous for developing “Locard’s Exchange Principle”, which has become the keystone of modern forensic science.  And “Locard’s Exchange Principle” says “Every contact leaves a trace”.

Here I have a piece of packing tape, and if I walked through the worship centre touching people with the tape, which I won’t do cause it’s kind of creepy, we would discover that even casual contact would pick up trace.  But not only that but I would also be leaving trace behind.

So, it’s not that God is out to ruin your fun, he wants to keep you safe, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Here’s a side bar:   In the 1994 the University of Chicago did a study that was entitled: Sex, Love, and Health in America: And they discovered that the group with the most satisfying sex life was, believe it or not, conservative Protestants. It went on to state “The high correlation between spiritual commitment and sexual pleasure prompted the researchers to note that the image of Christians as sexually repressed may be a myth.”


So where are you at today?   The bible, the word of God says 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5 Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honour— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.


And you are saying, “Hey Denn, thanks for nothing, it’s too late for me.”  Nope, not too late at all.


You may not be able to change your past, but God can forgive it and your future is spotless.


Do you remember what Jesus told the woman who was caught in adultery?   Yep “Go and sin no more.”


Remember the 3 Rs, Repent, Receive and Refocus.  Because the promise for you is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!



Spring has sprung. . . or Not.

Spring is here, spring is here, spring is here.  I figure maybe if I use the word spring enough, that maybe spring will come, and warmer weather will spring forth, flowers will spring up and springs will thaw out.

I just looked outside, and it seems to be working.  During last week’s snowstorm, someone asked me why I couldn’t do anything about the weather and I told them I was in sales, not management. (I know it’s not original.)  The only thing we can do about the weather is dress appropriately.

I’m pretty sure that they taught us in grade two, that March 21 was the first day of spring, which makes me wonder what other important stuff they misled me about.

If there is one thing I’ve learned after living in four countries on three continents, is that you can’t trust the weather.

One thing I’ve learned after having served the Lord for 39 years, is that you can always trust God.  He loves us, cares for us and has only our very best interests at heart.

Regardless of what it’s doing outside, you can always rest secure on His promises.  And that ought to add a spring to your step, even if the weather doesn’t.

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


Some of you are old enough that you recognize the music as the Frank Sinatra song, “Love and Marriage”.  Others who are a little younger simply recognize it as the theme from “Married with Children”, that’s how I think of it.


For those who aren’t familiar, “Married with Children” was a sitcom that aired on Fox from 1987 to 1997.  It was the longest-running live action sitcom on Fox and focused on the lives of Al and Peg Bundy and their children Kelly and Bud.


It aired about the same time as “Roseanne” and while many families saw themselves reflected in the Connors from “Roseanne”, they took solace in the fact that they weren’t like the Bundy’s from “Married with Children”.


You watched Married with Children and thought “There but for the Grace of God.”


Those even younger have never heard the song before today.  The chorus goes:

“Love and marriage, love and marriage
They go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you, brother
You can’t have one without the other”

Over the next seven weeks, we are going to be looking at family relationships, husbands, wives, parents and children.  How we live together and how we love together.


Unless you are an orphaned, childless hermit there will be something here for you.


So, let’s start with marriage, for thousands of years it was assumed that if a man and woman were in a long-term relationship that they were married.


In this day and age, our perceptions of an event are often coloured by what we see in the media and certainly there are all kinds of movies about weddings and marriages, Mamma Mia, My Best Friend’s Wedding, 27 Dresses and Big Fat Greek Wedding are only a few.


And it’s not surprising that movies about weddings are usually chick flicks.


But guys if you are looking for a movie wedding scene with all the essential elements, heroes, villains, giants, peasants and the underlying threat of physical violence there’s only one.   Here is one of my favourite movie wedding scenes.


. . . (Wedding clip from Princess Bride)


Well, that’s a wedding scene that guys can get into


So, let’s begin with What Defines a Marriage:


Let’s start here with some secular definitions:


Merriam-Webster Dictionary  mar·riage (mărʹĭj) noun
1.         the state of being united as spouses in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law


Dictionary.com defines marriage this way, Any of the diverse forms of interpersonal union established in various parts of the world to form a familial bond that is recognized legally, religiously, or socially, granting the participating partners mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities



Collins English Dictionary mar·riage (mărʹĭj) noun used to define marriage this way:
1.         The state of being married: relation between husband and wife.


But now it defines Marriage this way: A marriage is the relationship between two people who are married.  Notice, it no longer speaks of a husband and wife.


Kind of reminds me of the story told about Abraham Lincoln.  It seems that one day he was in a discussion with a young man and he asked him “How many legs would your calf have if you called his tail a leg?”   To which the boy replied “Five”, “No, four” the President said, “simply calling his tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.


Of all the definitions I’ve read I think I enjoyed Sydney Smith’s the best, Smith was an English Clergyman who lived between 1771 and 1845 and he said  “Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated, often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.”

But why?  Why marriage.

Because Socially: Marriage Protects the Family


Throughout history and in cultures around the world there have been procedures and celebrations set in place that allowed a man and a woman to come together and start a family.


In North America that is recognized as our modern Weddings, there is music (Link to music) that when we hear it we immediately think “Wedding”.


There are words that are said, “Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedding husband?” that we automatically think “Wedding”.


There are clothes that when we see them we automatically think “Wedding.”  There are even automobiles that when we see them we think “Wedding.”


And what we think of as normal might seem a little strange in other lands and other cultures and perhaps even in our own land a couple of generations ago.  Weddings have become big business today. Sometimes when I’m talking to a couple who are living together without being married and I query them as to why they haven’t gotten married their response is “We can’t afford to get married.”


No, getting married doesn’t any more than living common-law.  The cost of a licence and the preacher pretty much covers it, and if they can’t afford the preacher I’ll do it for nothing.  What they can’t afford is the Wedding and that is completely different than a marriage.


And what might seem strange in our culture might be normal in another culture.


In the late eighties a gentleman in our church in Truro approached the men’s group at a men’s breakfast with a unique appeal, Jack had been a missionary in Zambia several years before where he became a good friend and mentor to a young man.


Now the young man was graduating from Bible College and wanted to get married but his future father-in-law was asking four cows for his daughter.  She was educated as a teacher and so her getting married would hurt the family financially.  Now you probably think that is strange and wrong, but in that culture that was all part of the marriage process.


Guys without looking at your wife, keeping your eyes straight ahead, how many cows would you have paid?  The Wesleyan Men’s group in Truro helped raise the money,


Alfred and Muumbee have been happily married now for 30 years and he is an ordained minister, has his master’s degree from Asbury Seminary in Kentucky and is the National Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church in Zambia.


The reason that cultures throughout history have tended to lean toward a monogamous form of marriage was to strengthen society through stable family units.  Without some type of formal agreement, there was nothing to hold family units and thus society together.


We are starting to rediscover that reality, with the rising divorce rates, men who are paying child support to children from one or two failed marriages, while not really being fathers. Mom’s who are left raising children by themselves or ending up in blended relationships where parents can’t really function as parents.


Is it any wonder that the concept of “till death do we part” was an integral part of society up until the last forty years?   When I was a kid I knew one kid who was living in what we now call a blended family, back then I just thought it was strange that his last name was different than his parents.


Whether it is a full-blown wedding that cost tens of thousands of dollars or simply jumping the broom, marriage is simply a couple affirming their desire to spend the rest of their life with each other and to raise a family.


Religiously: Marriage was Ordained by God.  It’s interesting to note that in a society that is as non-church going and pagan as ours is, church weddings are still the way to go for the many Canadians.


They are looking for the scripture reading, the prayers and the god talk. I’m not sure if it’s seeking to reclaim a little bit of religious heritage, if it’s just considered the right thing to do or if they are just covering all their bases.  Something borrowed something new something religious something blue.


A friend of mine is an ordained minister who is not presently pastoring a church, last year he put an ad in Kijiji about performing weddings as a pastor.  He performed 20 weddings for people who weren’t connected with a local church but wanted a minister and not just a marriage celebrant to bless their marriage.


Max Lucado wrote “God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.”


And indeed, the concept of marriage is the very first human institution.  We read about it earlier in the account of creation.


After Eve is created Adam says in   Genesis 2:23-24 “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’ ” Actually what he said was, “I think I’m in love”


The scripture continues by saying This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.


1126 words into the Bible, as soon as we have man and woman the concept of marriage is defined.  You have two and they come together, and you have one.  And that oneness was defined by God.  It happens emotionally, it happens spiritual and in the act of lovemaking, the couple becomes one physically.


And that is why within the scripture the act of sex is set apart for husband and wife.  Otherwise, how can you become one with this person and that person and another person without giving up a little bit of yourself each time?


And so, within the religious sense when God created man and woman he created marriage.  In verse 25 it says Genesis 2:25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.  It doesn’t say Adam and the woman, or Adam and his girlfriend, it says Adam and his wife.


And so, there is a religious component to marriage that is very similar to the social component.  It is for the good of the couple, the good of the individuals and the good of the resulting family.


But how long has the church been involved in the actual marriage ceremony?  Probably not as long as you would think.  The act of getting married has always involved something even if it was as simple as the couple stating that they were married, you say that sounds like they were simply living together.


No, they had made a commitment to each other and to their family and to their community as being married, it was not a temporary thing it was a commitment.


As society progressed the commitment would often be accompanied by a celebration, remember in John 2:1-2 The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.


The scriptures don’t tell us about the wedding ceremony simply the wedding celebrations.  As a matter of fact, if you read through the bible you will see all kinds of references to wedding feasts and wedding celebrations but not to wedding ceremonies.


Up until the ninth century the church was not involved in the mechanics of people becoming married at all, then prayers and blessings were added to the celebration, some by the priest and some by the couple.


Around the twelfth century, it became customary to ask the parish priest to take part and he would question the couple concerning their intentions, but the church still didn’t take an official part.


It really wasn’t until 1563 that the Council of Trent required that Catholic marriages be celebrated in a Catholic church by a priest and before two witnesses.  By the eighteenth-century marriage had become a religious event throughout Europe.


Spiritually: Marriage is a Metaphor for God’s Love for Us. In the Old Testament Israel is called God’s bride.


Isaiah 62:4-5 Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.


Throughout the New Testament, the relationship between Christ and His church relies on the analogy of a marriage.  In 2 Corinthians 11:2 The Bible says For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.


In Ephesians 5:25-26 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.  And several times in the Revelation the church is called the Bride of Christ.


When the prophet Isaiah was looking for a way to describe the salvation of God listen to the words he chooses in Isaiah 61:10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.



As a pastor, I’m often asked what Cornerstone’s stand is on Marriage and I tell them we are in favour of it.


But with that being said, what does that mean?  It means we respect the biblical view of marriage.


And what is a biblical view of marriage?  Here’s what it is not:


The Biblical  View of Marriage Does Not Include Simply Living Together.


In Canada living together without being married is called a Common law relationship in Australia it was called a De facto relationship, but regardless of what it was called, it is not seen as marriage.


Legally it’s not considered marriage, biblically it’s not considered as marriage and even today socially it’s not considered marriage.


People in society know the difference between being married and just living together.  We might not call it living in sin anymore or shacking up, but we don’t call it marriage.


Marriage entails a commitment.  Most marriage ceremonies contain a statement that says something similar to “Til Death do we part”


Now you and I know that in 2018 that the technical term for that statement is “A Crock”.


Even though most wedding vows include a line such as “until death do we part”, or “as long as we both shall live” too many marriages last only until one partner or another becomes annoying.


But at least there is an illusion of commitment and permanency. People who are living common law will often say I’m not ready for that type of commitment.


Oh, they might vow their undying love for one another and say their love will last forever but a wedding says it publically instead of it just being pillow talk.


The Biblical  View of Marriage Does Not Include More Than Two People.  Even after the legislature permitting same-sex marriage the federal law will not allow polygamy or bigamy, yet.

Although, someone once defined multiple divorce and remarriage as serial polygamy.

Marriage is a relationship between two people, one man and one woman. Not three or four or a dozen, but one man and one woman.

You might recall that Mark Twain said: “The bible speaks very clearly about polygamy when Jesus said no man can serve two masters”.

To even up the ground here it was Author Erica Jong who wrote “Bigamy is having one husband too many. Monogamy is the same.”


And I know that in the Old Testament Polygamy is allowed or at least not disallowed and I have no deep insightful explanation for that other then in a time when Israel was fighting for her very survival that women would have outnumbered men because of war casualties and it was allowed to compensate for that.


And so legally you can’t be married to one person, socially it’s frowned on, for now.  And while there have been cults that have promoted polygamy orthodox Christianity doesn’t, with a caveat.


It is interesting that whenever I teach pastors in Ghana I can always count on answering the same question.   And that is what are they supposed to do when a man with more than one wife becomes a Christian?  And, you understand that someday, in Canada, we may face the same question.


In Ghana my answer is always the same, he is to remain married to those wives and love and respect them.   Because there is no other option.


And regardless of what the federal government or the supreme court may say The Biblical View of Marriage Does Not Include Partners Of The Same Sex.


Legally same-sex marriage is a part of Canadian fabric and if you think that will ever change I have a really nice bridge I’d like to sell you.  That Genie isn’t going back in the bottle.


The Government may have changed the definition of marriage in the law books, but it is beyond their scope to change it in the bible.


Socially, of course, the majority of Canadians now accept same-sex marriage.   But biblically same-sex marriage is not accepted.


I’m not being hateful, I’m not being homophobic, I’m simply discussing the biblical view of marriage and It has not changed.

The social view of marriage may have changed, the legal definition of marriage might have changed but the biblical view of marriage remains the same.


And it’s not just the Christian Bible, an examination of the historic teachings of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism reveals overwhelming support for the view of marriage as the union of men and women with no official endorsements or recognition of the idea of same-sex marriage.


Historically it wasn’t there, 5000 years of recorded religious thought, philosophies and regulations and no favourable mention of same-sex marriage.  You’d think that if it was acceptable that at least one of the five biggies would have recorded something in favour of the idea, but no.


So why do some churches say there is nothing wrong with same-sex marriages?  Because they have rejected the authority of scripture.


Those churches have already stepped over the line in rejecting the virgin birth, the deity and bodily resurrection of Christ and other major doctrines so why should this surprise you?


So where are you at today? As a believer a follower of Jesus Christ, are there things that need to be changed and attitudes that need to be adjusted?

They will hate you. . .

What makes the difference between simple vandalism and a hate crime?  This past weekend, Easter weekend, two Catholic churches were defaced with misspelt obscenities profaning the name of Jesus.

A couple of things I noted. The first was the lack of interest from the media. Apparently, a church being defaced isn’t as newsworthy as a mosque or a synagogue being defaced.

The churches didn’t even get an apology call from the Prime Minister.  Oh well.

The second thing I noted, was the surprise from some folks that something like this could happen…. really?  Angela and I recently went to see the movie, Paul: Apostle of Christ last week.  As the credits were rolling we heard someone comment, “Well, I didn’t expect that ending.”  Not sure what they were expecting.  And in the same way, we shouldn’t be surprised when Christians and the church are targeted.

Among the many promises that Jesus made to the church was the fact that those who followed him would be hated.  Jesus went so far as to tell us that we should be worried when we aren’t hated.

And when someone spray paints obscenities on a church, it’s done with hatred. Hatred toward Christ and his bride, the church.  And you can be sure the world will be watching to see how we respond.

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

Whose fault is it?

How responsible are we for our bad behaviour?

Tyler Hatch of British Columbia has recently filed a lawsuit against the B.C. Lottery Corp (BCLC) claiming they failed to intervene in the gambling addiction that cost him over half a million dollars.

Hatch’s suit alleges “As a result of his compulsive gambling addiction and the failure of the BCLC to take any steps to prevent him from gambling away the entirety of his future income, the plaintiff suffered disastrous financial ruin.”

Even though Mr Hatch was enrolled several times in a program that B.C. Lottery has in place to help problem gamblers he continued to gamble online because apparently, the BCLC did nothing to stop him. Really?

Hatch is a forensics specialist, has a degree in criminology as well as a law degree and yet he has yet to figure out that there are consequences to all of our actions.  The suit is seeking restitution from BCLC for his gambling addiction losses, as well as general and special damages.

I wonder if he had been a big winner, would he have been willing to give the credit to BCLC and share his winning?

But it’s only when we own our behaviour that we can work with God on fixing our behaviour.

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

An Unexpected Sunday

Nobody had expected this.


It was only two days ago that the people of Jerusalem had watched as Jesus had been crucified as a heretic and a traitor to Rome.


For three years Jesus had travelled throughout Israel.  Preaching, teaching, healing the sick and feeding the hungry.  He had quieted storms and cast out demons.  During that time, he had won the hearts of the people and alienated the religious leaders of the day.


And if there had been those present the previous Friday afternoon who were inclined to wager, they would have bet on Jesus being the loser.


After all they had watched him being beaten, they had watched as the crown of thorns had been pushed into his head and they watched as he was nailed to a cross and hung in the sun to die.


He was dead, and this was completely unexpected.  They not only heard that he had died, they had seen him die.


When John listed those who stood closest to the cross at Jesus death this was his list,  John 19:25  Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.
And if we read Luke’s account we read what happened next, Luke 23:55-56 & 24:1-3As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed.  Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.  But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.  So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.


Who were these women who went to the tomb?  Well according to the other gospel accounts we know for sure that Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas and Salome the mother of James and John.


And they went to the grave expecting to find the body of their friend which they intended to prepare for embalming, instead they found an empty grave occupied only by empty burial shroud.


And so, on that Sunday morning so many years ago victory was snatched away from the enemy.  And tears of sorrow became tears of joy.


And so, a weekend that began in an unexpected way on Friday had An Unexpected Ending on Sunday.

Well, they weren’t expecting that on Friday.  On Friday the hopes and dreams of the apostles had been dashed.  Because when they saw Jesus die, those hopes, and dreams died with him.


They had been expecting something else on Friday, perhaps the people rising up to defend Jesus, or a flash of lightning that levelled the Romans or maybe, maybe an army of angels descending out of the clouds to rescue God’s son just in the nick of time. But none of those things happened


Instead, they watched as Jesus had been humiliated and beaten and ultimately he had died.  And if Jesus could die then everything he said about being the Son of God, every promise he made about eternal life, every claim he made about forgiving people all of those things died with him and were all proven wrong.


It would be years before Paul would write to the Corinthian church, but I’m sure on the Saturday following Jesus death that these words were on the minds and weighing down the hearts and souls of the Apostles.  1 Corinthians 15:17-19  And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.  In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!  And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.


But listen again to Matthew’s account of the resurrection story,  Matthew 28:1-7  Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.  The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.  Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.  And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”


Did you catch it?  “He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.”  And that is why Paul could finish his words to the Corinthians with the word “But” because after the “but” comes the truth.  Remember 1 Corinthians 15:17-19  And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.  In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!  And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.


But Paul doesn’t stop with verse 19,  1 Corinthians 15:20  But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.


And if he could come back from the dead, just as he said he would, then all of his other promises are valid.  The coming back from the dead thing, that was the tough one.


And so, the promises that Jesus had made, “the rest” that he promised, “the peace” that he promised, “the forgiveness” that he promised and “the eternal life” that he promised.  All of those things are assured because of the resurrection.


And that was unexpected on Friday because Jesus had died and had been laid in a tomb, but because he didn’t stay dead but rose from the dead, just as he promised we have the assurance that he will keep all his other promises as well,    So on Sunday there was An Unexpected Assurance


He wasn’t expecting this.  After all, he had denied even knowing his friend when his friend needed him most.


Let’s go back to the resurrection story:  This time in Mark 16:1-7  Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.  Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.  On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”  But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.  When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked,  but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.  Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”


Did you catch it?  “Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter. . .”


You remember Peter, don’t you?  Peter who was one of the twelve.  Peter who was one of the inner circle.  Peter who was one of Jesus’ closest friends.  Peter who walked on water, Peter who offered to die for Jesus. Peter who grabbed a sword in the garden and tried to fight off those sent to arrest his friend. Peter who denied he even knew Christ, not once, not twice but three times.


Jesus had been arrested and his followers scattered, all but two of them disappeared.  John and Peter followed Christ, but not together.  We don’t really know if John was challenged about knowing Christ, and if he was we don’t what his response was.  But we do know what happened in the case of Peter.


Biblical Scholars tell us that the Book of Mark was probably the first gospel written.  The same scholars tell us that even though it was written by a young man named John Mark, that he was probably just acting as a secretary for someone else.  Someone who had been an eye witness to everything that Christ had done.  And that somebody was in all probability Peter.


With that is mind let read Peter’s account of what happened on Friday, we find it in Mark 14:66-72  Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”  But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.  When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!”  But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”  Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”  And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.


Come on Peter, what is going on?  This is Jesus, the same Jesus that called you from being a fisherman and turned you into a fisher of men.  The same Jesus that walked on the water, feed the hungry, healed your mother in law and raised Lazarus from the dead.


You don’t know him?  You practically lived with him for the past three years and you don’t know him? You ate together, travelled together, laughed together and you don’t know him?  He taught you learned.  Maybe you simply forgot that you knew him.  What was it you couldn’t remember?  Was it when you said in Luke 9:20 “You are the Messiah sent from God!” or was it when you said in Matthew 14:33  “You really are the Son of God!”


Peter do you even have the slightest recollection of saying to Jesus in Mark 14:29 “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Or Mark 14:31. “Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!”


But Peter did deny him, not once, not twice but three times.  And if Jesus had stayed in the tomb than Peter would have lived a life of defeat.


Wallowing in guilt, self-pity and grief, this was how Peter expected to live out the remainder of his life, haunted by his failure.  And he would have, if Jesus had remained in the tomb,

but Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb.

And when the women found the tomb empty, it wasn’t enough that the angel told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead, the angel also told them in Mark 16:7 Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, . . .


That wasn’t expected.


Especially Peter.  Peter who denied him, Peter who swore that he didn’t know him, Peter who turned his back on him when he need Peter the most.  Jesus didn’t need Peter to fight for him, Jesus didn’t need Peter to try and rescue him from the Roman Centurions.  Jesus just needed Peter to be there.


Jesus needed to see Peter in the crowd, needed to know that those three years weren’t wasted.  He didn’t need Peter to die for him; he simply needed Peter to live for him.  And Peter denied he ever knew him.


And when Jesus hung on the cross, with the blood from the crown of thorns dripping into his eyes, and he pulled himself up by the iron nails driven through his wrists and said

Father forgive them, he was looking for Peter.  Mark Twain said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” And that was certainly the case here as Jesus looked out at those who betrayed him, denied him.  Those who demanded his death, and those who gave in to those demands.


But that forgiveness is powerless unless it comes from one who has the power to forgive. Unless it came from one who had the power to say, defeat death.  Without the resurrection that forgiveness would have been worthless, simply more words from a prophet proved wrong by his death.  But when he stepped out of the tomb everything he said, everything he taught was proved to be right.  And his forgiveness became a certainty.


Have you ever denied Jesus?  Perhaps with your words or with your behaviour? Have you wondered whether or not Jesus could ever forgive you? The answer is “Yes”, not only can he forgive you, he wants to forgive you and his resurrection proves that he has the power to forgive you, if that is what you want.


When Peter realized what he had done, the Bible says he broke down and cried, that was remorse, he was sorry for what he had done.  God’s forgiveness is there for each one of us but first we need to acknowledge our wrongs, and be sorry that we did it, not just sorry we got caught doing it, but sorry that we disappointed Jesus.


For Peter and for each of us, Sunday brought An Unexpected Forgiveness


They hadn’t expected this, well maybe they expected something but not this.


It was the day after the crucifixion, the day after Jesus died and the day after Jesus’ body had been laid in the tomb and we read this in Matthew’s account,  Matthew 27:62-66  The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate.  They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’  So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”  Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.”  So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.


Did you catch that?  The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate.”  The priests and Pharisees actually defied their Sabbath, the very thing they had accused Jesus of several times when he healed on the Sabbath.


Remember the woman couldn’t even go to prepare the body of their friend for fear of breaking the Sabbath.


After Jesus was arrested we read this account 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.


On Friday morning they wouldn’t meet with Pilate because they were afraid they would be defiled and yet on Saturday morning, the Sabbath, we find the religious elite standing in front of  Pilate with cap in hand and not just any Sabbath, we read in John 19:31  It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down.


Pilate must have sensed how important this was to them, to him it was just one more favour to tuck away in the favour box for later repayment.  And so, the tomb was secured with the seal of Rome, to break that seal was a capital crime.  And then guards were posted to make sure the tomb wasn’t tampered with.   The priests and Pilate were taking this seriously.


And once the guards were posted, they didn’t expect that anything could go wrong.  And then we pick up the story in   Matthew 28:11-15  As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened.  A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe.  They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’  If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.”  So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.


And so the authorities had to come up with An Unexpected Explanation


And there are some today, even in churches who still believe the explanation.


They weren’t expecting this.  When Jesus died and was buried the apostles figured the story was over that the mission was kaput, that’s German for broken, dead or done.  I’m just trying to impress you with my linguistic prowess.


They were going to head back to their fishing nets and tax booths, back to their families and jobs.  For three years they had believed the promises of Jesus and allowed themselves to dream of what could be instead of what was.  But now, the eternal had been put to rest and now they would return to the everyday.


Let’s pick up the resurrection story again, this time in John’s account.  John 20:19-21  That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.  As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!  Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”


Did you catch that?  He wasn’t letting them go, he was sending them out on a mission.  Sending them to do all the things that he had been sent to do.  And today, Easter Sunday 2018 Jesus is still telling those who follow him, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”


And so, while Friday may have presented us with an unexpected ending, the gift of Sunday is An Unexpected Beginning. 


The resurrection is an invitation to experience his grace, an invitation to change the world.


Where are you at this morning?  Are you ready to accept Jesus’ invitation, to claim the assurance that his promises are true, are you ready to accept his forgiveness?

An Unexpected Friday

Nobody had expected this.


It was only five days ago that the people of Jerusalem had welcomed Jesus as their Messiah.


For three years Jesus had travelled throughout Israel.  Preaching, teaching, healing the sick and feeding the hungry.  He had quieted storms and cast out demons.  During that time, he had won the hearts of the people and alienated the religious leaders of the day.


And if there had been those present the previous Sunday morning who were inclined to wager, they would be bet on Jesus as the winner.


Let’s read how John described the events of that day.


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. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!”


Those in the know recognized Jesus’ entry that day as the fulfilment of prophecy.  Hundreds of years before the prophet Zechariah had written in 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.



And while it was true that there had been a few hiccups during the next week, what with Jesus clearing out the temple courts of the merchants and money changers and condemning the religious leaders, popular opinion seemed to be in Jesus’ corner.


And when the time came for the Passover Dinner, the apostles felt that they were standing on the very edge of history.


That this would be when Jesus would announce his plans to overthrow the Romans and re-establish the Kingdom of David.  Because that’s what was expected of the Messiah.  And we pick up the story in  Luke 22:7-8  Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed.  Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”


Song: The Table


Let’s join Jesus and the 12 for the meal.


It’s great to have Pastor Les Somers, Pastor Arron Birch and Pastor Rob McDowell assist with our communion service this morning.


Luke 22:14-18  When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table.  Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.  For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”  Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves.  For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”




Les:  For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”


Rob: In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.”


Aaron For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.  So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.


Denn: That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup.  For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself.



At Cornerstone we celebrate an open communion that is we don’t limit it to members of Cornerstone or of the Wesleyan Church.  Instead it is a celebration for the Family of God.  So this morning you might be a Christ Follower and when you hold the bread you will remember the day you decided to follow Jesus.  Perhaps you haven’t made that decision yet but you are acknowledging that Jesus is the son of God and died for your sin and you are remembering his life and death and resurrection.  He is offering the gift of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life, but it is a gift that is only valid when it is accepted.


And just as Jesus invited the twelve, we invite you to come to the Table.



Directions on coming and taking elements back to seats.


Song: Nothing but the blood



And then after dinner they went to the garden where we pick up the story in  Luke 22:54-57  So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance.  The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there.  A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!”  But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”


And so the weekend began when one of the twelve betrayed Jesus, the authorities arrested him and his best friend denied that he had ever known him.  That wasn’t how anyone expected things to go.


So, the weekend had An Unexpected Beginning:



He hadn’t expected this when his day began.   His name was Pilate and he was the Roman Governor of Israel.  And like most of his days, on this day he would sentence some to die.


And into this ordinary day came a most extraordinary prisoner.


After Jesus had been arrested he had been taken before the high priests were he was charged with blasphemy, but they were powerless to actually do anything to Jesus, so they sent him to Pilate to be sentenced.


The problem was that blasphemy was a religious charge and Pilate couldn’t have cared less about religious charges.


And so we read in Luke 23:2  They (the Priests)  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, now 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 murdered, 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.


And they demand that Jesus being crucified, and in frustration Pilate gave into the demands of the crowd.


But even with that the Governor wanted people to know that he wasn’t happy.  So let’s pick up the story 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.”


And so, on that day Jesus Had an Unexpected Champion


Song:   Reckless Love

Lead Me to the Cross


He certainly hadn’t expected this.


The day began with all the usual clichés going through his head.  “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”, “if you’re going to play you have to pay”, “you made your bed, now you have to lie in it.”


He was called a thief and a criminal and while we don’t know what he did to deserve to die, death was his sentence. And not just any death he was one of the three who would die that day on the hill called Golgotha.


Cicero, the Roman politician described crucifixion as  “. . . most cruel and disgusting punishment… To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, to flog him is an abomination, to kill him is almost an act of murder: to crucify him is—What? There is no fitting word that can possibly describe so horrible a deed.”


But there they were, stripped and beaten and nailed to crosses to be hung in the hot sun to die a drawn out and painful death.


That he expected, he had seen it before and he had always known that if his crimes caught up with him there would be no mercy shown by Rome.


But what was unexpected was what happened as he hung on the cross.  Let’s pick up the story in  Luke 23:39-43  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.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”  And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”



Nobody would have expected what happened that day.


We don’t know much about the thief who hung with Christ on that day.


We don’t know what he had done to deserve to be executed in this manner. His plea to Jesus is only recorded in Luke chapter 23 and his name, Dismas comes to us only through legend.


Was this a chance encounter or a divine appointment?


We may never know, but we do know that on that Friday afternoon that the choices of the world came down to the two men who hung next to Jesus.


One chose to scoff and ridicule Jesus to dismiss his claims and to take his own chances with eternity.  The other man chose to accept the claims and grace of the one who hung next to him.  And so, we remember the words of Dismas, “Jesus remember me.”


And the promise of Christ:  “Today you will be with me in Paradise”


So, on that day we discover An Unexpected Convert


Song: You Give your Life Away



She hadn’t expected this but then again, she hadn’t expected the events that happened 33 years before either.


Mary was just a teenager when her life was turned upside down.   Engaged to the village carpenter, Mary was committed to her God and to her faith, she was known as a “good girl”  and so when an angel appeared telling her that she would carry the Son of God in her womb she had only one objection.


“How can that be” she asked, “since I’m a virgin?”


The answer of course was found in Luke 1:35 & 37  The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. . .  For nothing is impossible with God.”


And on that day Mary’s life was turned upside down.   The promise was that the child she would carry, even though she was a virgin, would be the Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit and sent to save his people.


Mary knew that Jesus would make a difference and that he would change the world.  Mary had watched as her son had fed the hungry, healed the sick and forgave the sinner.  She didn’t know how the story would end but nothing had prepared her for this.


And again her world was turned upside down, as she watched her first born falsely accused, beaten and humiliated.


To have a crown of thorns shoved unto his head and to watch him nailed to a cross and left to die.


We find the end of the story recorded in   John 19:25-30  Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”  And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.  Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”  A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.  When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.


And so on that Friday afternoon, at 3:00 o’clock three things happened.


A priest would have stood in the temple overlooking the city and would have blown the Shofar, the Rams Horn announcing the offering of the Passover Lamb.  Inside the temple at the altar the High Priest waited and as the sound of the horn faded he would kill the Passover lamb.


And, with his mother standing at the foot of the cross Jesus gave up his spirit and the day came to a conclusion with An Unexpected Ending