Tag Archive: Jesus


tireYou’ve all probably heard the expressions “when the tire meets the pavement”, “when the rubber meets the road”, and “when reality sets in”…right? If not, I probably picked them up from my childhood in rural Nova Scotia. These expressions mean that things can look great when they are ideas or plans…but they can look totally different when they become real and its time to put them into real life.

When the “tire meets the pavement” the car moves ahead. So, are you ready to move ahead with what God has done in your life at #OFLO14?

Jesus once shared a story with some religious folks about a man who was possessed by an evil spirit. The man was delivered from the evil spirit by the work and power of Jesus Christ; what a celebration that must have been! If you were to imagine the man’s life as a house, it would have been swept clean and everything put back in its rightful place. The only problem is that the house was empty; the man’s life was empty of spiritual things. Although the man was made clean by his encounter with Jesus, his life was empty of spiritual things. The evil spirit realized this and returned with seven other friends more wicked than itself to toss the place and make it disorderly again. There was no resistance. There wasn’t even a fight. The house was easily picked off and now filled with more filth than before. The final condition was worse than the first. (Matthew 12:43-45)

It is agonizing to think that after God has revealed himself to so many people at #OFLO14 we would return home swept clean but still empty spiritually.

The reality is that what God does in our lives in a moment still requires a lifetime of follow-up on our part. Right? This is called discipleship, and it is what Jesus was referring to in the story I told you. Mary Magdalene, a prominent woman in the story of Jesus’ life, was relieved of a significant burden in her life by the power of Jesus. Her response: she became an active disciple of Jesus.

The work of Jesus at #OFLO14 has set us free to make a new beginning; but if we now fail to take the road of discipleship, we are in danger of relapsing into a condition worse than before. (1)

What does it take to be a disciple? A disciple regularly interacts with other disciples for fun, food, fellowship, worship, and strength (Acts 2:42-). A disciple studies the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15). A disciple regularly leaves the chaos of the world behind to spend time alone with God (Luke 4:42-). A disciple cuts themselves off from the things that lead them into temptation and sin no matter the cost (Matt 5:29). A disciple shares their inner victories and inner struggles with other disciples (Galatians 6:1-2). A disciple actively works to ensure justice is met and those less fortunate are cared for (James 2:14-17). A disciple seeks to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit and does only what the Father [God] speaks (Ephesians 5:18, John 5:19)

I could go on…but I won’t. If you take even half of those statements seriously enough to implement them into your life, you are on the right track. Your destiny will be changed and your life will be more abundant than you can imagine.

Like I said, this one will take work. Not work to earn God’s love and eternal favor, we already have that. The work we now do is God’s work on earth as we have now because a part of his body. We are his hands and his feet.

This is a marathon; let do it!

(1) The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Gospel of Matthew. R.T. France.

My wife and I had a unique first experience just before Christmas last year: we experienced Black Friday shopping in Michigan for the first time in our lives. It was exhilarating, it was intense, it was LOUD, it was late…(we had to line up)…it was crazy…and at the same time I had so much fun. We picked up some really great deals on Christmas presents for our kids, presents for other people and a few things for us.

There were people present at WalMart that evening, however, who did not handle this shopping trip in the same light hearted nature that Mandy and I approached it with. There was swearing, pushing, light punching, diving on top of merchandise, evictions from the store by security and shopping carts EVERYWHERE.

Lets fast forward to Christmas morning: our kids got up and were amazed at the number of wrapped packages that filled the living room! We skyped with some family and then began to open presents. It went something like this: rip paper, look, set aside…rip paper, look, set aside…cry and scream because you want to play with a toy you just opened (me included)…but instead get another wrapped package placed into your lap to open.

As Mandy and I reflected on this first Christmas in our own home with our children we realized that it did not play out quite like we had wanted. We envisioned a quiet and peaceful time opening presents, making organized piles of everything and then playing with toys later in the day in an organized fashion. We were naïve…and quite wrong!

Recently I ran into the photo that I included at the beginning of the blog post. I was immediately reminded of my Black Friday shopping experience and subsequent Christmas morning chaos. There is a poignant truth conveyed by this photo that is quite impossible to relate in words. I guess a photo really is worth 1000 words.

I am not writing so as to condemn us for enjoying the blessings of life in Canada. I too enjoy a warm bed, more food than I need and many toys and gadgets that make life easier. I even enjoyed Black Friday shopping…and the 40” television in my living room that came as a result.

However…I also enjoy being a good steward of the blessings God has given me. I enjoy receiving our charitable donations receipts at the end of each year to see that with what God has given us we have been able to return a tithe and then some. I enjoy speaking with Phil and Donna Williams of Servant Heart Ministries; our church supports their medical and relief work in the Dominican Republic. I enjoy visiting the Dominican Republic and hanging out with people like Sandra Torino; though she has nothing she gives evenything back to those in her village of Auga Negra. She is a modern day Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42). I enjoyed taking Sandra out for ice cream one afternoon with our youth missions team and hearing her describe how special this was for her.

I enjoy the talk of giving a young girl in our community a baby shower to show her that we still care deeply no matter the choices she has made. I enjoy having friends over when part of their family is out of town and I enjoy hanging out with Benjamin’s friends for an evening while their family attends to a medical emergency.

These are the things that are necessary in life.

When we define necessity with greater depth than what can be found in a department store we suddenly find many more things to enjoy in this life and much more fulfillment in the way that we live.

When we become aware of the blessings that we can pass on to others we suddenly realize that in so many ways we can bring much joy and fulfillment to those that live around us.

Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

This week at Monkey Barrel and Emergency Ministries we discussed two separate topics: Monkey Barrel students explored fear and Emergency Ministries students explored depression. I will tell you a little about our depression talk in this blog post and next week I will write about our fear talk.

The slogan of the talk was this: depression…it does happen. I was at a meeting of the board of our local Youth Centre just this past week and heard a young lady talk about her experience of teen depression when she was in grade 8. What she said went something like this (I’ll paraphrase):

I don’t know why I started feeling that way. I was not a high-risk teen and my family did not display terrible dysfunction as you might expect of teens with depression. It just happened.

Thankfully this young lady was able to find the support she needed from our local Youth Centre. With this talk my aim was to instill hope in the students present that they and their friends can get through prolonged periods of depression and they can always talk to trusted people in their lives about this.

The reality of the situation is that we all get sad sometimes. There are things that get us down. Most times these feelings go away; however, sometimes we begin to think that we deserve to be sad because of some terrible thing that we have done. Sometimes we believe that the situations will never change. Sometimes we put our head down and stop looking around at all the beauty of life around us. When it gets to this point we likely need help finding our way back.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus tells a story about a tower that fell on 18 people and killed them. The question Jesus asks is whether these 18 people in the wrong place at the wrong time somehow deserved to be there. Were they bad people? Is this why they died? Was it Karma? The answer Jesus gave was a resounding “NO”.

Bad stuff happens and that is just a part of life. The law of Karma states that what comes around goes around; if you dish out something bad you cannot escape the bad that will come back to you. The reality is that if you are a thief you will likely go to jail and if you are a jerk you will likely have no friends.

Even though we joke about Karma all that time…this is NOT some natural law of the universe. What comes around does not always have to go around; Jesus came to the world to break the cycle of sin, death and destruction. The Apostle Paul reminds us in his book to the Romans that “…the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Moreover, the Gospel writer John said, “…the thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. Jesus comes to give abundant life!”.

Jesus gives hope that tomorrow can be better than today….no matter how bad today was and no matter how many mistakes we made today. Jesus asks us to lift up our heads and look at all the wonderful beauty of life around us. There is more to life then things that bring us down. Once we break free from cultural misinformation like the supposed law of Karma and the message that for some people things can never change we can begin the journey back from a life of depression.

If you have felt sad, down, or blue for several weeks and nothing seems to bring you out of this you might be stuck. Faith in Jesus can help bring you back…and Jesus often times uses people to bring his hope. Talk with your youth leaders, youth pastor, school councilor or other trusted people and start the journey back!

 

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.  (Psalm 31:5-6)

 

NOTE: Wednesday February 8th 2012 is national “Let’s Talk” day about depression and other mental illness. On this day numerous high profile individuals will open up about their battle with depression.

 

Make sure you talk that day as well.

This morning at 8:05AM almost a dozen students gathered around the flagpole at Essex District High School. As I write this post students at Gosfield North Central Public School are gathering at their school. Why, you may be wondering? Because today is our annual See You At The Pole (SYATP) event. Still confused? Let me explain.

It all started with a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas who came together for a DiscipleNow weekend in 1990. These students wanted to spend time together praying to God and growing spiritually together. Throughout this experience they felt a real great burden to pray for their schools; they drive to three different schools that night, gathered around the flagpole, and prayed. It was as simple as that

The vision for this grew however; the students wanted to coordinate an effort where students all over Texas would be praying simultaneously for their schools. This movement quickly adopted the name See You At The Pole (every school has a flag pole) and the idea was shared with 20,000 students in June of 1990 at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. That year, on September 12, 45,000 students gathered at the flagpoles of their school in four different states to pray before the start of school.

On September 11, 1991, the number quickly grew to 1,000,000 students praying at the flagpoles of their school from Boston all the way to Los Angeles. Today there is over 3,000,000 students praying in the United States as well as a vast number of students from over 20 countries around the world.

One act of faithfulness in 1990 has sparked a worldwide student prayer movement. And we have been a part of this for two years running at Essex District High School. Though we are only a very small part of this large movement, faithfulness in prayer pays off more than we can possibly imagine.

2 Chronicles 7:14  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

James 5:16  “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

For more information fee free to visit www.syatp.com

Have you ever heard that great song “End of the World” done by Great Big Sea? I was amazed at how many students today have never heard of the band Great Big Sea…where has musical taste gone these days! Great Big Sea was a staple band when I was in university just 10 years ago; they even played at my wife’s high school prom and THAT was a BIG deal!

All of this to say that our culture today is really quite interested with how we all got here on earth (i.e. the beginning of the world) and also with how we are going to leave here (i.e. the end of the world). There have been so many predictions about the end of the world over the past 2000 years that if it was possible, I am sure that God would have succumbed to the peer pressure of it all and just ended everything already!

But then, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised about this apocalyptic obsession that we have today; Jesus told us to be waiting and be watching for the end to come. Jesus didn’t tell us to become obsessed however and he most certainly didn’t tell us that a few really smart people would figure it out someday and sound the alarm. If history has taught us anything it is that statistically, 100% of the entire end of the world predictions thus far have been inaccurate. I think that is a pretty solid trend that we can be confident about.

We currently are facing the most recent ‘end of the world’ prediction by Harold Camping of Family Radio; a California based broadcasting organization. Camping uses a number of biblical genealogies to determine the age of the earth and subsequently the ‘end of the world’ which will begin with the rapture of ~3% of the earth’s population on May 21, 2011 and the subsequent destruction of the earth on October 21st, 2011. Camping is no newcomer to this ‘date setting’ group; he also predicted the ‘end of the world’ in 1994…and obviously lived to tell about it.

I think the author of the Peanuts comic strip had the most interesting thing to say about predicting the ‘end of the world’:

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip.

There is some truth to what Camping is saying (i.e. that there will be great changes to us and to the world around us some day); however, there is a lot of myth associated with what he is teaching too (i.e. that we can know the time and the date). Here are a few facts to help set the record straight.

1. This “end of the world” will take place at some point.
Scripture is clear that Jesus Christ will come back at some point in the world; when he does come back a number of great things will take place. Those who are faithful and accept Christ in this life will have an inheritance of honor and rule with him in the life that comes next (Col 1:10-12). Those who are not faithful and reject Christ will be confronted with the reality that they were misguided and they will answer to God for this (Rev 20:12-13). Those who have previously died will be returned to life to either rule with Christ or answer to God depending on how they lived their life (1 Thess 4:13-14). Finally, there will be a new earth and a new heaven that will be void of all sickness, death and disease. It will be like restoration of the Garden of Eden from the book of Genesis; our bodies will also be restored to that Garden of Eden state (Rev 22:1-3, 21:1).

2. No one knows when this will take place.
For as many of the Scriptures that we have that describe what will take place at “the end of the world” there are those that tell us that we will not know the time…and that no one will. In fact, the bible teaches that the end will come like a ‘thief in the night’. Never have I known a thief to book an appointment ahead of time!

3. What should we do? We must be ready.
Each of us must ensure that we are living in such a spiritual state that we are prepared to meet Jesus when he returns. This is a serious and somewhat fearful thought, yet it must be considered. Remember that you do not have to be perfect; what is required is humble submission to Jesus Christ within which there is no condemnation (Romans 7:1).

Also, we should continue preaching the words of God to all those around us. This is what Jesus asked us to do when he left us.

So, don’t worry about these doomsday predictions: statistically you have nothing to worry about. However, pay close attention to the fact that while these recent predictions are based on shaky ground there is truth in the fact that Christ will return and he hopes to find his people ready.