Proverbs 12: 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
Normally I like to start with a longer scripture reading, and I do have some passages to share a bit later, but first, a story. Last Saturday I took some kids, one which was one was my own, to Cavendish for paintball. Because of the construction taking place on the way to Charlottetown, I thought it would be a good idea to avoid that area, and go via Mount Stewart. Google Maps told me that it was about the same distance, maybe 3 or 4 minutes longer, and avoiding construction delays and traffic seemed a great idea. So we went that way.
Continue reading No Turning Back
Read 2 Timothy 3:1-8, 14-17 to start.
I have bad news for everyone today. Things, and this may come as a surprise, things are not perfect. This year has not gone entirely according to plan, and it’s not over yet, we have two months and change to go. We have a Saturday night full moon Halloween ahead of us that also falls on the night daylight savings time ends, so it’s the longest night of the year, so that’s sure to be something special. But in general, things have been rather rough for a lot of people. It’s been a challenging year. Frankly, many people have found the last number of years to have more obstacles and roadblocks and setbacks than would seem fair and reasonable. This year, however, seems to have set new heights, or perhaps lows, for trouble and difficulty. There is no question in my mind that these are perilous times.
Continue reading Read the Manual
Read Job 38 to start.
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
Read Daniel 5: 1-6, 17-27 to start.
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.
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.
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