Read Acts 8:26-38 to start.
When I was in school, back in 1980s and 90s, we had semesters and school years. One thing that took place at the end of every semester, at in particular at the end of the year, apart from the finishing of exams and deadlines for papers, there were report cards.
I assume that in public school they still do this same sort of thing, although it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s not all digital now, rather than the folded cardstock we used to have to take home and sign. I did well in school, it was never much of a concern for me when report cards came out. But there were other students who did not do as well. Some of them may have been very good in certain subjects, but did poorly in others. And some just didn’t do so well in school at all. If your report card came back with too many low numbers or poor letter grades, then you might end up failing the school year and have to repeat the grade. Not something that anyone would look forward to, not the teacher, not the student, and not the parents.
Continue reading What Holds You Back?
Read Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 4:12-16 to start.
This morning I’d like to start with a story from long, long ago. Well, it maybe only feels like long ago, it’s from when I was in elementary school, grade five or six I believe, so something like 35 years ago. In school we were working on some sort of group project, I think we were making a poster or a sign or something like that. There were several opinions as to what was the best way to proceed, and I was quite confident that my approach was going to be the best. But one of the other children had her own opinion, which was so far as twelve year old me was concerned, entirely wrong. She said “I think we should…” and while I don’t recall the details of what she said exactly, I knew it was clearly not a very good idea, and so I snapped back “I don’t care what you think.”
Continue reading Be Not Despised
Read Proverbs 30:24-28 to start.
Who here has had a splinter? Not looking for a show of hands or anything, but I’m willing to bet that most of you have at one time or another. If you haven’t, then you must have thicker skin than I do, or you never come into contact with wood. The other week I had a splinter on the side of my finger, and I managed to get it out with tweezers. I recall one time earlier this year, I had a splinter for a couple of days that I could not get rid of, and when I was in the hospital visiting my father, I convinced one of the ICU nurses, well, I just asked her nicely, to remove it, and it took her a bit of effort to get rid of the thing. Splinters are unpleasant. But they are a normal thing that we experience from time to time.
Splinters are also very, very, small. If you’ve ever removed one and taken a look at it afterwards, it was likely only a few millimetres long, and not even one millimetre wide. A tiny and insignificant thing by any measure, other than the amount of discomfort it can cause.
Continue reading Four Small Things
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 Judges 17 to start.
We’ll get back to the story of Micah from mount Ephraim in a few minutes, but first, I’m going to talk about my backyard. I know, I know, it’s January, and there’s a foot of snow covering it, but I want to talk about that yard to start this morning. Most everyone here has been to my house I think, if not when it was my house then at some point over the past 30 years. So you’ve seen my backyard, even if you aren’t all that familiar with the back part of it. It’s a double lot, which is great for the kids to play in, but it takes a while to mow it all. The back portion, the area behind the row of pine trees, we call it the back forty, although it’s not even half of an acre, there’s really nothing back there apart from a little area where the kids attempted to plant a garden, a big bush at the back, and a whole lot of grass. I haven’t specifically gone out there with a tape and measured it, but it’s a lot of walking back and forth and back and forth when you mow it.
Continue reading Straight Lines
Read Genesis 2: 15-17
There are many words in the English language, something like 250,000 thousand, depending on how technical you want to get. Of those words, most adults know in the range of 25,000 to 30,000 on average, and children as young as four know roughly 5000 words. That’s a lot of words. This morning, though, there is one key word that I want to look at. It’s a common word, we use it every day. It’s only three letters long. The word is but. Continue reading But . . .
Read Genesis 49:29-33, 50:22-26.
Is everyone familiar with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Even if you’ve never actually read it, or if it’s been many years since you have, it is of course a very well known book. It is the best known book from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, which is a series of seven books about people from this world who travel into a different dimension, into a land called Narnia. Perhaps you’ve read only the first book, or just a couple of them. Perhaps you’ve read them all. They come highly recommended.
I would give you a cautionary note, though, about the last book, entitled The Last Battle. It’s, how can I say it, it’s odd. I remember reading it when I was much younger, and finding it dark, somewhat disconnected with the other stories, and frankly, dissatisfying. While the Narnia books are allegorical fiction, and certainly not a text for Biblical instruction, The Last Battle also implies some rather questionable theology. It is not a strong end to an otherwise superb series. Continue reading Finishing Well
This morning I’d like to talk about binary states. No, we are not going to have a lesson in technology, although you would be entirely within reason to think that. Computers use binary code in order to store information. That’s how computer storage works, it’s all ones and zeroes. Every piece of data on your computer, on your phone, on the entire internet, in fact, it is all stored as ones and zeroes. A bit is a one or a zero, and from that single piece of information, from millions and billions of ones and zeros, we store information.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. A binary state is something that is an either/or condition. Ones are zeroes are hardly the only examples. Look at the lights above you. Those are all LED bulbs, they are either on or off. These bulbs don’t dim, but even if they did, they are still on or off, because on-but-dim is still one. The windows on either wall, those are either open or closed. They’re closed right now, but if it was summer the windows would probably be open. A window might be open a little or a lot, but it’s still either open or closed.
Continue reading Binary States
Psalm 23. 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
The passage we just read is of course one of the best loved and best known of all the Psalms, indeed in all of scripture. It is a passage that I would expect most of us here know by heart. I know Laura had her Sunday school class learn it last year, and I believe they all got to the point so they could recite it from memory. You’ve probably heard it preached on in the past, probably more than once. So I’m not actually going to preach on the 23rd Psalm today. Yes, I know that we read it a moment ago, and that does seem like a bait and switch to read something and then not speak on it. Well, I didn’t just read because I like it, I am going to speak on one verse, actually one phrase from one verse, at least in a way of introduction. That phrase is from verse 5: my cup runneth over.
Continue reading Cups and Choices
Read portions of Genesis 2:7-3:24 to start.
In 1969, there was a large music festival held near the town of Bethel, New York. This was of course the Woodstock festival, which was the biggest music festival that had ever happened up to that point, and remains easily the most famous gathering of that type in history. Dozens of musicians and hundreds of thousands of people attended, and it is considered a watershed moment of an entire generation.
Continue reading Back to the Garden