We get to know some people quickly and deeply. Other relationship are paced more slowly. Generally if we are to truly understand another person it requires two essential ingredients. Time and proximity. Jesus built a relationship with hsi disciples in this way. For 3 1/2 years they were together, 24/7. At the end he told them he was leaving “for their good”. And then their relationship with Christ took on a new trajectory. They knew the heart of God. The Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to them as they never knew him in flesh and blood. The sermon is a look at the difference between a casual relatioship with Christ and an intimate one.
Mark Sumner installed some cupboards for us this week, along with a counter top over our washer and dryer. I was the unskilled labor, an extra set of hands. Two of the most elusive aspects of carpentry, to me, seem to be the idea of square and level. To ignore these is to guarantee that at some point you will have problems. It will catch up to you. Contentment is just as important to a life. In its own way, it is “square and level”.
As I edited my sermon from last week, I reevaluated what needed to be said and what didn’t, what really contributed to the overall idea and what was superfluous or unrelated. I reminded myself that there are times when I feel as though I hit the nail on the head, in preaching and other times when I miss it all together. I am content however that God uses our best attempts and our weakest. What He holds, He uses as He sees fit. My prayer … as always is that you could hear the message beyond the sermon.
I used to think, almost exclusively, in terms of right and wrong, I based my spiritual well-being on my performance and in many areas, I did well but in others, I was a dismal failure … that’s the way I saw it at least. R&W were the measuring sticks by which I sized up others as well. The recipe for righteousness was one that I adhered to as much as I could. In the back of my mind I expected that God would reward me accordingly with good things that I wanted in this life. I am 67 years old and very much aware that things don’t work this way when it comes to the spiritual life.
Every good thing comes from a good God who blesses because it is His nature to do so. It is not a performance reward or incentive.
And God uses all the rest, the good, the bad and the ugly … somehow He does!
The Law of the Harvest is simply an observation that we are better off when we cooperate with natural laws rather than ignore or try to control them. Even when we cooperate there are many variables that come into play. This morning’s message borrows from John W. Lawarence’s book, “The Saeveln Laws of the Harvest”. I am using my own obesrvations but found these points to be very helpful at a personal level.
Christianity, as most of us have heard it preached and consequently experienced it, is presented as a way out. It is a way out when it comes to hell. It is a way out of the negative consequences of our bad choices. A way to avoid unnecessary pain or the evil that exists in the world around us.
Is that all that there is to it?
We make a decision, a profession and then wait for Jesus to return or death to come. What if it is more a way in than a way out? It is clear that Jesus never saw “follower-ship” as a way to esacape anything. It was a way to engage life, head on.
This message from last Sunday at CLC discusses the difference between escapism and engagement …
I did my first 9-hour trip to the bank this week. The people in the branch were wonderful. I needed to do some banking re: a compromised client card and other miscellaneous items on my mother’s behalf. For an hour and 15 minutes I stood at the counter. One of my tasks was a stop payment on my mother’s rent payment. I was told that this could not be done at the branch and directed to a phone number on the back of my client card.
The next morning I called the number and explained the reason for my call. I was told that this had to be done tin person at the branch. After taking a deep breath, I explained to the person on the phone that I was in the branch the previous day and told that it couldn’t be done there. This gentleman was sympathetic and helpful. The short story is that things were worked out so that another 9-hour excursion was not required.
On the way home a good friend sat next to me. The conversation drifted into a verbal lament regarding the erosion of society, the fact that were were on a slippery slope headed for destruction. I shared with my friend that I just could not allow myself to see the world that way. it’s no wonder people are desperate, despairing and depressed with such a dismal outlook. I have been accused of having my head in the sand. My response is that others believing they have a realistic out look, have their heads in the sewer. I’d rather have my head in the sand.
To believe God is in control is surely an exercise in faith. The storm panicked disciples saw the storm and could not believe that Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat while they all were in peril. This is forever the challenge of faith … are we influenced more by the storm or the presence of the Saviour in our lives. Hope requires a clear reliance on our relationship with Christ rather than a cynical perspective on the world around us.
And as the people of God we are to traffic in Hope.
This guy was in the water today at Deep Cove Beach, when I began my walk. He was still splashing around an hour and a half later when I returned. You have to give this kind of effort some recognition. There is a level of enjoyment here that escapes me but I enjoyed the fact that he was having a good time. Rather than call him crazy, because I would not have done it, it just feels better to encourage.
Yesterday at CLC, we talked about the power of encouragement. If you have time and interest, this is the message, somewhat edited …
We have experimented for some time to try to find the simplest method to post Sunday messages. For a period of time, we are going to try an audio file that can be shared and connected to our social media sites as well.
This message is from January 29, 2023. It is edited to remove interaction that is not recorded through a microphone. Really this interaction is the substance of our gatherings. It is the belief that everyone brings something to the table and if the pastor’s voice is the only one heard on a given Sunday morning, were are missing something vital to our services.