Monday, October 6, 2014

No Chicken Soup for the Soul

Today it seems that most sermons begin with a cute story or maybe a joke.  The reason is that the speaker feels that he must get the attention of his audience.  But it is more than that, too many sermons just make us feel good.  They are nothing more than Chicken soup for the soul.   Therefore it would be wrong to talk about sin and repentance.  How does repentance make us feel good?  What we need is someone to tell us that we are okay.
That was not John the Baptist.  His cute little chicken soup for the soul was to call his hearers a brood of snakes.  He didn't say that he was glad they came to hear him but he challenged them on why they came.  Why are you seeking repentance and forgiveness?  Maybe we need a few more sermons like John's.
The following sermon is worth listening to.  It takes about 50 minutes but it is worth it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Here comes the Queen.

A number of years ago Queen Elizabeth II visited the city we were living in at that time.  She was given the royal tour and one event on that tour was a visit to the Amethyst Mine.  This mine was near the lake where my in-laws had a cottage.  In preparation for her visit to the mine the road was upgraded.  It was no longer a gravel road but new surface was put down so the road was a smooth road.
Isaiah says in Isaiah 40:3 - 5, A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Luke quotes this prophecy and shows that it is fulfilled in John the Baptist.  What is the highway?  It is repentance.  When the Queen was coming they prepared the roads, we are told to mend our hearts.  We must repent to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

They had to come to go!

It is every parents fear and it seems to happen to all parents that at one time or another they cannot find their child.  It happened to us, it happened to me as a child and it happened to my wife.  When she got lost in a store she did what we tell our children all the time not to do and that is leave the store.  She went out of the store to her parents car and eventually they came out not knowing where else to look and there she was.  Her explanation, "I knew you had to come to go!"
When my in laws lived next door to us we left our son at church.  We thought that he had gone home with his grandparents but when we got home he wasn't with them.  We called the church and the pastor was still there.  Our son figured that he could stay there until the next men's breakfast.  However, this was Christmas eve.
Jesus also got left behind.  His parents thought that he was with his friends and it wasn't until they took stock that night that they realized that he wasn't with them, he had been left behind.  When they found him he was in the temple talking with the elders.  Some think that he was teaching them but I think he was listening and asking questions.  He had a desire to learn.  Yes he was God but he had laid aside his divinity and became a child.  As a child he learned like other children learn.  He learned by asking questions and listening to those older than he.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Aurora Borealis

One of the spectacular sights in the winter night skies in the north is the northern lights or aurora borealis.  When we lived in the north we would occasionally see the wonder of theses lights as they danced across the sky.  Sometimes they were filled with colour.  We would stop what we were doing just to watch the wonder of the moment.
As spectacular as the northern lights may they are nothing compared to what the shepherds experienced on that first Christmas night.  That night the angels showed up.  Now we often see pictures of one or two angels but I imagine that the sky was full of angels.  This was the greatest event in the history of this planet and I know that none of the angels would miss it.  If the northern lights are an spectacular sight can you imagine the sky filled with angels.  What a moment.  What a scene.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why was Jesus born into the world?

I think if you were to ask a dozen people you may get a dozen different answers.  He came to save us, to give us eternal life, to set the captives free, etc.  However, what did Jesus say?  When Jesus was on trial before Pilate He told Pilate, "In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth."  John 18:37
Pilate asked the question, What is truth?  Little did he know that the One who said He was the truth was standing before him that night.  Truth is never relative.  Truth by definition must be absolute.  Jesus said that He was the truth.
What is truth?  That which reveals the character of God.  Who revealed God to us?  Jesus.
So we can be a people of hope.  Our hope is in the one who was born into a manager in Bethlehem.  The Christmas Carole says it well, "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Something to sing about.

When people have no hope then they do not sing.  I am reminded of the Psalmist who said, "By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?" Psalm 137
However the people in the days of the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus were people who sang.  Mary sang the magnificat where she magnifies the Lord in her song.  Zachariah sang the benedictus where he sings of the Lord's visitation and finally in Luke 2 Simeon sings nunc dimittis and he sings because he has seen the Lord's glory.
Why do we sing?  We sing because we have hope.  We see a world in trouble but we see a God who is in control.  We know that God will someday step into history and everything will be made right.  Mary, Zachariah and Simeon all sang because they saw that God was moving in their day.  Do we have something to sing about?

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Just a little word "be" but when we look at Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel we can learn a great deal from that little word.
It is said of Mary in Luke 1:27 that she was pledged to be married.  She may have been only thirteen years old but her life was already planned out for her.  She was to be married to Joseph the carpenter.
The angel then tells Mary in Luke 1:31 that she will be with child.  Not only does the angel say that she will be pregnant but that the child will be a boy and he will be named Jesus.  He goes on to tell about the greatness of this child.
Mary has a question in v34.  How will this be?  This was not a question of doubt but a legitimate question.  She was a virgin.
Then in v38 we see the faith of Mary when she said, "May it be to me as you said."
One of the amazing things about Mary was that she was unwilling to put her reputation above her obedience to the revelation that God gave her.  She was willing to suffer the shame and stigma of being pregnant but unmarried for the glory of God.
Can we say with Mary, "may it be to me as you said."?