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Showing posts from 2013

What kind of giver are you?

Over the years, I have noticed that a local church has three kinds of givers in the pews—which one are you?
Giver # 1: This is a giver by DNA—it’s just part of whom they are.  It’s not even so much spiritual as mere common sense.  This giver gives a portion (usually 10%) with every pay cheque that comes into his hands.  They give fifty-two weeks a year.  They give when they are mad at the pastor.  They give when they are on holidays.  They give when they dislike the music.  They give when they disagree with the church budget—because, it’s part of their spiritual DNA.  They pray, they read their Bibles, they don’t shoot their neighbours, they go to work every day, they love their spouses, they don’t steal, commit adultery or use the Lord’s name in vain and they give 10%.  And what’s more, they don’t even think about it. It’s not hard.  It’s just—normal.  They see giving the same way Jesus saw giving.  Jesus saw tithing as a minor issue.  Matthew 23:23“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, h…

Supporting your local church

Supporting Your Local Church

I have little remembrance of that fatal day 22 November, 1963 when John F Kennedy was assassinated. (I was, after all only six years old). I have, however, often heard this rather famous line that Mr. Kennedy used in his inaugural speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This is a phrase that is often used to stir up cooperation in times of fatigue or lack of vision, etc.However, it does something else I wish to point out—it really flies in the face of our consumerism. Consumerism has been engrained in our western cultured mindset. I was listening to the radio news the other day and was recommended to go and buy gas for my car—the reason? Gas prices were going up three cents the next morning. I periodically call Bell and ask directly for the ‘bell loyalty club.’ When you get a live person—after a few dozen clicks—you tell them you are paying too much for services and would like your present costs lowered. I h…

Stuck again

I read the following tweet the other day:  "Friendly reminder, church people like to HEAR sermons, lost people like to SEE them.”   
And, it happened again the other day.  It happens many times--too many times.  And, it doesn't happen just to me--it happens to you--too many times as well.  This is what happens.
I'm having a conversation with a potential seeker of the truth--someone who has not surrendered to Jesus, but is not an atheist.  Someone who has some genuine interest and some authentic questions about Jesus and the Christian faith.  Here's how the conversation went:
'Okay, do you mind if I ask you a question?' my friend says. ‘Sure, ask away,' I respond. 'So, you know Frank (not his real name--trying to protect the innocent?)  I know—and you do too-- he is a faithful church person.  He follows the church, attends, gives money, cooperates and says he is a Christian.' (I'm getting nervous, I could finish this off for him) 'Well, why does he…

Fight, Fight, Fight

Ephesians 6:12  For we do not wrestle against, flesh and blood... Exodus 17:9  Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek… 1Timothy  6:12 Fight the good fight of faith…
I recall, many years ago, going through a particularly difficult time—I was simply becoming weary in well doing.  At the time Rev. Homer Cantelon was my superintendent.   I called him up one day to cry on his shoulder, and he responded with some pretty good advice.  Here is what he told me.  “Peter, we are in a war.  Lie down and bleed a while—then get up and fight again!’ I’ve never forgotten that little piece of advice.
Just lately I heard Rev Tommy Barnett teach the following.  He was teaching about wanting to quit.  In that teaching, he said something along these lines.  'Wanting to quit is a sign of success--because only successful people have something to quit.  Lazy useless people have nothing to quit.  Tommy suggested he would rather fall, than having never tried.'
I was just thinking about that--even …

Don't Lose Heart

Jesus spoke a parable to His disciples in Luke 18 regarding the necessity of persistent prayer.  As an introduction to the parable Luke tells us the following.  Jesus spoke a parable to them,"that men always ought to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1)."  
Just last Saturday evening we had house guests.  We were all going out to hear a speaker, but were driving separate cars.  My buddy, asked the code to get into the garage, then into the house for the following reason.  He thought my wife and I would be longer getting home after the meeting.  He wanted to leave right away and get back to watch the hockey game.  Well, he was absolutely correct, after the event he and his wife got to our house before we arrived home.
After arriving at our house, I went down stairs to join him in watching the hockey game.  At that time the score was 3-0.  Our Maple Leafs had nothing.  The Vancouver Cannucks had three.  Our wives joined us in the basement--but not to watch the game--they arrived …

A little wine for my stomach's sake? Please?

A funny thing happened to me twice in the last two months.  It happened first at the annual United Way train pull.  This is an annual event sponsored by the local United Way, as a fund raiser.  The local pastors were asked to put a team together--which we did--and off we went to pull a train.   This train is actually a train caboose which weighs 100,000 pounds.  Each team gets a chance for two pulls, with a little breather in between.  After our one pull, the MC for the day laughlingly suggested we take a break and go over to the beer tent and have a brew--before we pull again.  The comment was made in jest and simple fun.  
The second time something similar happened was just last week. I was at the local radio station and was asked by the manager if I was going to attend the annual St Thomas award night.  He described the night, location, time etc. and then, tongue in check, said something like, 'Oh and remember, there will be a wet bar!"  Again, the comment made in jest and …

What am I really zealous about? Who am I zealous for? How far am I prepared to go with my zealousness?

I 'like' hockey--even like the Maple Leafs--but how zealous a fan am I?  Well, I'm unprepared to pay $250.00, or more-- to go watch a game.   I 'like' sailing--even spending some cash.  My buddy Pete Deboer and I spent a huge $120.00 on our sail boat--and we sail about three weeks a year--not all that zealous.  So my zealousness is lacking.
Let's talk about my zealousness for Jesus.  Now, that's different--at least I hope. I think I'm pretty zealous.  You know, I do the right things, the spiritual things, and the righteous things.  I'm feeling pretty smug--oops--good about myself and then I read Numbers 25 and it's down hill from there. Here's the scoop.  (Warning- rated a little on the PG side!)
The enemies of Israel--the Moabites--rather than attacking Israel with swords--use a covert method--worship and sex.  In the worship style of the Moabites, there was a lot of feasting, partying, and sex.  God is ticked off with the whole affair and sent …

The year of Jubilee

The Year of Jubilee
Buried in the pages of Leviticus you will find an interesting command.  God tells His people, the Israelites, to practice what God called 'The year of Jubilee'.  Basically here is how it was to happen. First, mark off every 50 years and call it a year of Jubilee.  During that year have fun--don't work.  Celebrate being God's chosen people.  Don't plant crops, work the fields or gather a harvest of any kind.  Just party! Second, cancel all debts.  If money was owed for things--the debt is cancelled. Third, if for certain reasons property had been sold some time during the previous 50 years, the land was returned to the original owner.  Every 50 years the land allotted to a family would be returned. Wow!  Hardly capitalism!
Here's the reasons why an Israelite was to celebrate the year of Jubilee: First, he does not own anything.  God owns everything.  The Israelite is just a stewart.“The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for y…

Standing up for each other

If you are a hockey fan you have offered your two cents on this already--that is, the David Clarkson suspension. For those unfamiliar with the finer points of hockey, here is what happened. In a pre-season game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Sabres' tough guy (meaning I'll punch your lights out), a person by the name of John Scott, decides to go after Leaf's star Phil Kessel. Scott explained he was just doing his job, punching out the closest person--no offense intended. Kessel is staring at Scott's belly button and Scott decides to take a shot at Kessel. There is almost a foot difference in size between these guys. Well, this is too much for the teammates of Kessel. Carter Ashton was the first to the rescue. But in the mayhem that followed David Clarkson jumped off the bench and into the fray.       This is where the no-no occurred. David should not have done that! David, as a matter of fact, broke Rule 70.6 that states: "A game m…

Occupy!

David Demoor preached last Sunday at our church.  He preached about the soon return of Jesus.  Interesting that we keep coming back to this same subject--Jesus is coming soon.  He told the following interesting story.


Frank Stronach--the big cheese from Magna was set to visit the plant here in St Thomas.  A certain day was placed on the calendar for Mr. Stronach's appearance.  Prior to his arrival, the employees worked hard at cleaning, painting, and making everything look perfect.  They even shut down some production lines for house cleaning purposes.  Everything was now perfect, and Mr. Stronach was to arrive in his private jet at the St Thomas airport.  But, when the time came for his arrival--he was a no show!   Apparently, he was too busy or involved with other activities.  It was not until some months later that he actually made the visit.


David explained the following.  'Although he didn't come when we expected him, we were still ready!'  David drew a parallel bet…

That long?

That long?      Joseph, prior to his death, gave a prophetic announcement in Genesis chapter fifty. As you perhaps recall, Joseph became the prince of Egypt due to his ability to interpret dreams. His own dream became a reality after seventeen years. He dreamed that his brothers would bow down before him--and true enough, seventeen years later, that dream was fulfilled.       Joseph had all his family move down to Egypt to escape a 7 year famine. The Bible tells us seventy people moved down. Joseph, as the second youngest, was probably one of the last of his twelve brothers to die. He gave this prophetic word just prior to his death: Genesis 50:24-26  And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being one hundred…

Jesus is coming--perhaps today?

I am again thinking about Jesus' return.  Our adult Bible class teacher, just this past Sunday posed a question to us.  Here it is.  "When are the last days?"  Immediately, someone responded with the usual, 'oh, the days just prior to Jesus' return.'  I suggested that the last days began in Acts 2.  Peter, if you remember quoted from the book of Joel to describe the events of Acts 2.   The outpouring of the Spirit, according to Peter, was a fulfillment of the Joelic prophecy of a last day outpouring.  Acts 2:17...In these last days...
So, the last days are days that occur from Acts 2 until the end of time as we know it.  These days will be climaxed with the coming of King Jesus.  Hebrews tells us that Jesus will appear a second time.  Hebrews 9:28"so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."
Jesus is coming again, not to deal with sin but to bring &…

On Union with Christ

I read  most days, a prayer from my prayer book entitled The Valley of Vision.  It is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. Here is a sample of the prayer I read today:
May His shed blood make me more thankful for thy mercies more humble under correction more zealous in thy service more watchful against temptation more contented in my circumstances more useful to others
As I read that, I am again face to face with a realization.  I am not what I ought to be.  I am not thankful enough.  I am not humble enough.  I am not zealous enough.  I am not watchful enough.  I am not contented.  I am not useful enough.
The answer to those deficiencies in my life is not trying harder.  The answer is not in taking another course, reading more, nor for that matter--even praying more.  The answer is in the blood--that is the vicarious sufferings of Jesus.   It is only through union with Christ that the deficiencies and sins in my life can be forgiven and changed.  Notice it is about change, not just for…

How "soon" is soon?

If I told you, I am coming soon--what would that mean to you?  One hour?  Two days?  One month? If I promised something like this:  "Soon, I will come over, and help you paint your rec room."--what would you be thinking?  I suppose, you would at least be thinking--well, he is coming over during the next few days!      I've just finished reading the book of Revelation and have come face to face again with a Jesus who says:  "Behold I am coming soon!" (Revelation 22:7,12).  Now apparently--and no disrespect--Jesus' "soon" is not my "soon."        The early Pentecostals cut their teeth on this Jesus is coming soon.  They were so absorbed in the soon return of Jesus that it affected their life style choices and how they went about their evangelism.  They were so sure of the imminent return of Jesus--they focused on evangelism and mission to the disregard of pastoral care.  Our churches tend to do the exact opposite.  To be honest, the early Pe…

The difficult balance

I have issues with balancing things.  I can't ride my bike unless I have at least one hand on the handlebars.  A guy rides his bike past my window every morning as I read my Bible and drink my breakfast shake.  He is usually peddling away with his arms crossed--perfect balance!
There is another balancing issue I have.  Here it is:
Listen to these scriptures and note my comments:
Psalms 127:1 A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
My comments:  What I think Jesus wants me to do (ie  build His church)  I can't.  As a matter of fact UNLESS He builds it, I may as well sell Dixie Dee Ice-cream and forget pastoring all together.
Hebrews 4:9-10 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
My comments:  Ministry is rest.  Huh?  That's what this says.  I must enter into …

Don't shoot me...I'm just saying...

I've been reading through the Old Testament.  Solomon is one fascinating individual.  Here Solomon is  portrayed as the richest, smartest, most brilliant person ever to live.  When you read his story you are in awe.  This guy is brilliant.  He is passionate about his faith.  He is faithful and just in his dealings.  He is brilliant in his leadership.  He is generous with his  people.   He has success.  He has style.  He has wealth.  He has led Israel in the construction of history's most fantastic temple for worship.  On the day of the dedication of this facility they gave up counting how many sacrifices were made.   The Bible tells us that the glory of God filled the temple--so much so that "the priests could not perform their service (1Kings 8:10-11)."  This is one terrific person.  This is one awesome piece of history for the Jewish nation.
Kings, leaders and people around the, 'then known world,' came to see and listen to Solomon.  They would come and be i…

The Great Invitation

Jesus told a parable in Luke chapter 14 concerning the Great Invitation.  "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many (Luke 14:16)."  As the invitation went out a series of excuses were offered.  Apparently people did not want to come to the supper and offered a few excuses.1.  One guy bought some 'ground' and wanted to go and see it.  Now, THAT'S exciting!  'Hey honey, look at this awesome piece of ground.' 2.  Another bought five yoke of oxen.  Again, excitement plus. ' Wow Honey, look at those oxen.  They pull that cart so well.  Better than anyone could ever have imagined!' 3.  Another just got married.  Here's an idea brain-ianic.  Bring her!
As I read to feeble excuses I started to think of some feeble excuses we have in our culture.  We just studied Am I A Fan or A Follower at our church--and I'm thinking that it was a 'nice' series but life changing?  Church changing?  Hmmm--Maybe not!
We are a culture of excuses.  We h…

Simplicity

I'm sure you have noticed this.  Life is busy and very complicated.  Time schedules, appointments, lists to accomplish and even vacation times fill our lives to the max!  Imagine with me how this next phrase jumped off the page.  I was just reading a morning prayer from my Puritan Prayer Book (The Valley of Vision).  Here is the phrase that jumped  off at me:  "May I cherish simplicity and godly sincerity of character."  Wow really?  Can I still do that?  Better question:  'Am I even capable of doing that?'  Can I stop the rush, the bombardment of things to do, accomplishments, people to meet, stuff to fix, buy and paint--change, change, change-- and cherish simplicity?   
Why can't I do that?  What would it take to do that?  Is it even important to do that?  The early church fathers often took a vow of simplicity.  I found, for example this: Vow of Simplicity (VowofSimplicity) on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/VowofSimplicity The latest from Vow of Simplicity (@Vow…

Actively pursuing Jesus

Matt 9:29 "Do you believe I am able to do this? Yes, Lord...Be it done to you according to your faith."

This is the story of two blind men who are crying out to Jesus for healing.
The 'usual' paradigm for healing in the gospels is this. "Be it done to you according to your faith." That is the usual way healing flowed in the gospels. The gospels, more than any other portion of scripture teach us about healing--for the gospels reveal the Father's will demonstrated in the person of Jesus. Christ reveals the Father. The more we focus on Jesus, the more we ultimately focus on the Father's will and ways. MOST people found Jesus--sought Him out--and came to Him. Healing was THEIR idea. Think of the woman with the issue of blood. SHE decided that if she touched the hem of Jesus' garment (probably his tzitzi --see Mal 4:2 where 'wings' is best translated tzitzi). It was not Jesus' idea to heal the woman--it was the woman's id…

Do not follow at a distance

You've all seen it--on the T.V. I mean. The following scene that is. The detective is required to follow the suspect--staying close enough to NOT lose him--but far enough back, NOT to get noticed. Following at a distance would bring potential disaster.

Peter did that! Recall his proud and arrogant statement in Matthew 26:33 ff. Peter boast: 'Jesus, I'm with you--no matter what!' Then Peter sleeps when he should have been praying. He misreads Jesus comments about a sword and take his sword and chops off the ear of Malchus. But the real mistake of Peter is this; he followed at a distance. Matthew 25:58 "But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest's courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end."

The lesson is clear! Jesus I do NOT want to follow you at a distance. I want to stay as close as I possibly can. I want to know more about you, eternity and my Bible than I do about sports, my job or my car. I want t…

Bondage to the opinion of others

While this is, no doubt, a negative example--there is a lesson here. Matthew chapter 14 tells the story of John the Baptist's beheading. John apparently could not leave well enough alone. He judges (must not have read Matthew 7:1) that Herod's relationship with his brother Philip's wife was adulterous. Herod is ticked off at the prophet John and wants to kill John.

Matthew 14:7 tells us that the reason why Herod did not kill John was "he fears the multitude... because they counted John as a prophet." Fear of the crowd paralyzes Herod. As the story goes, on Herod's birthday his wife's daughter dances so amazingly Herod is mesmerized and makes a huge and dumb statement. He is so out of his mind he makes an oath and promises 'anything' the little gal wants. She, consults her mother and mom says: 'Get Johnny's head!' So the king reluctantly sends off a guard to do the chopping. The reason? Matthew 14:9
"And the king was sor…