We’re probably all reasonably familiar with the story of Job, how God allowed Satan to test Job, how Job remained faithful even when faced with severe personal loss, physical anguish, an unhelpful spouse and critical friends, and how eventually Job needed to learn that God is in control, and that Job was not quite as righteous as he first assumed. That’s where we joined the story, at the start of God’s reply from the whirlwind, where God lists the various marvels of creation, of the earth and indeed of the heavens as well. You might be wondering why I started there, near the end of the story, if I was going to preach about Job. There’s a good reason for that. It’s because this is not a sermon about Job. His story simply serves as the background.Continue reading Why Doesn’t God Just Fix Everything?
Read Luke 17: 1-5 to start.
A few weeks my wife had her hair dyed. She has a good friend who has done this for her in the past, and the same friend came over again and helped her with it. That friend’s husband also came along, he’s a friend of mine, and so we had some time to chat while all the hair colouring stuff was going on, neither of us had anything to contribute to that, and it was far better to stay out of the way. We talked about all that’s going on in the world today, in particular with our neighbour to the south, we talked about politics, we talked about school, we talked about literature. As it happens, we both went to the same high school, although a few years apart, and we had some of the same teachers, and so we reminisced about that. This is what happens when you get older, kids, you sit around and talk about the past way more than is really needed.Continue reading Apology and forgiveness
Read 2 Chronicles 26:23-27:9 to start. .
This evening I would like to talk about tragedy. I know, I know, not exactly the sort of thing you want to hear about to close out your weekend. Why would I choose such a topic? Well, tragedy is part and parcel with living in a fallen world. It is part of this life, and as unpleasant as it might be to think about, it’s something that we need to consider from time to time.Continue reading The Tragedy of Jotham
Read Genesis 4: 1-10 to start.
The story of Cain and Abel is a familiar account. I know I’ve mentioned Cain in many past sermons, on topics such as envy, anger, revenge and forgiveness, as well why do bad things happen to supposedly good people. I have used Cain repeatedly and thusly because he is a ready example of how things can go so tragically wrong in such a short time. It’s easy to reference him, and it’s generally applicable, because we see sinful behaviour all around us, all the time, and we see it as well when we look inside. Cain embodies our sinful nature with all the jealousy, rage, impulsiveness, and false self-righteousness that we know to be inside the very worst parts of ourselves.Continue reading What About Abel?
In the town where I live there are several places to buy coffee. The one closest to me, the Lucky Bean Cafe, which does happen to be by far my favourite, is a locally owned independent shop in a heritage building. The place is less than a year old, and the owner is working hard to succeed. It’s not easy in a smaller market where there are other coffee shops owned by either well established regional chains or large multinational corporations. Offering better coffee, better food, better decor, better atmosphere, and at reasonable prices, is an excellent start.
One small but significant promotional thing that the Lucky Bean offers is a loyalty card. Seven stamps and you get a free hot beverage of your choice. It’s not flashy, it’s simple and effective. McDonald’s, a fast food chain which you may have heard of, has been doing much the same thing for years.Continue reading How to Waste 100 Million Dollars
Read Matthew 2:1-12 to start.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s the middle of February. This sermon is a couple of months late, or really early. And if this were a Christmas sermon, it would certainly seem to be in the wrong time of year. But this is not a Christmas sermon, even if my first reading this morning is one most commonly, and quite reasonably so, associated with that season.
I’d like to talk this morning about gifts and giving. The wise men of Matthew chapter 2, they are perhaps the most obvious and best known givers of gifts mentioned in all of scripture. Their gifts are also well known, I’m willing to bet that everyone here can name the three gifts that the wise men brought, for that matter if you went out on the street and asked random strangers, a good number of them would also be able to list gold, frankincense, and myrrh.Continue reading Giving and Sharing
A week and a half ago I spoke at Awana. There’s only I believe at most two people here this morning who were there that night, so for them this might sound a little bit familiar. The topic that evening was straight lines. I asked a few of the kids to come up and draw a straight line on the whiteboard, in order to demonstrate that without a guideline, it is almost impossible to do so. The lesson proved a few things, yes, it’s not easy to draw a straight line freehand, none of them could do it. And I also discovered that kids will go really slowly when they are trying to draw this straight line, like really slowly, I think an ant moving along the whiteboard would be quicker. If you’re wondering, going slowly didn’t help much at all.
Someone did figure out a way to do a pretty good job, though. He drew his line at the very bottom of the board, and thereby used the frame itself as a guide. That worked better, at least until he reached the point where the marker and brush holder caused his line to bump up.Continue reading Measuring Up
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 to start.
I remember being in my early to mid twenties, working in a retail environment, and every so often a customer, generally an older man, would call me “Boy” or “Kid” or something along that line. I did not appreciate that, not at all. I did not consider myself a kid at that point in my life, and frankly, 20 years later, I still think that it’s generally rude to call a younger person “kid” or “boy” in that situation. Looking back, though, it’s easy to see that I was in many ways still a kid. Sure, I was old enough to have a full time job, own a car, pay rent, vote in elections, and indeed, I did do all of those things. I thought I had stuff all figured out, and I chafed when someone implied that I was a young whippersnapper, or wet behind the ears, or any other cliché that an older person might trot out to describe a younger person.Continue reading Three Things I Wish I knew When I was Younger
Read 1 Samuel chapter 15 to start.
There are two well-known individuals that we are going to look at this morning. From what we read, you can probably guess the first one, which is of course King Saul. The second, and we’ll read his account a bit later, is David. We know David a lot better than we know Saul.
We often think of David in relation to someone else. David and Goliath is of course the obvious example. David and Jonathan, that’s another, and sadly, there’s David and Bathsheba, but we’ll get to that a bit later on.Continue reading David or Saul?
Read Romans 13:11-14 to start.
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
One of my favourite movies growing up was the 1960 Disney adaption of the Swiss Family Robinson. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is a rollicking adventure story of a family who is shipwrecked on an unoccupied island and who has to survive and indeed make a new life for themselves. This Disney adaptation features action, excitement, humour, and pirates. I call it an adaptation, because the movie is wildly different from the book. The aforementioned pirates, for example, who are a major plot point in the movie, are not even present in the book. In the movie, however, it was the pirates who drove the ship the family had been sailing on into the storm where they were shipwrecked. It was the pirates that the two older brothers encountered on the far side of the island, and from whom they rescued a prisoner. And it was in anticipation of those same pirates coming to retrieve the prisoner that provokes the family to prepare elaborate defenses.Continue reading Here and Now