Tuesday, 18 July 2017 23:34

Life With God in Christ

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The most important message of the church is the gospel. It is the good news which defines who we are and what we believe. Far too many people are engaging the church through a negative message. We are far too often defined by what are against.  At the same time people are increasingly unfamiliar with the basic message of Christianity. It is no longer a shared narrative in our culture. In order to help people understand the gospel message, I have written another short booklet which I hope will serve as an introduction to Life with God through Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 23:56

Is Faith Reasonable?

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I have long had an interest in apologetics. I enjoy reading books which help to outline the meaning of faith and evidence for Christian belief. Lately I have been reading Timothy Keller's latest book called Making Sense of God. It is helped me to bring together a lot of my own thinking and reading in these topics. As a father of teenagers and a pastor who works with young adults I have also seen the huge need provide thoughtful engagement with our culture and the secular worldview. I am pleased to offer a short booklet that summarizes my thinking about faith and reason. This booklet is available at the info desk here at Emmanuel or can be downloaded online here. The booklet is called Is Faith Reasonable?
Monday, 23 January 2017 21:30

Understanding the Bible

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The Bible is a beautiful and inspirational book, but it can also be difficult.  Many of us do not have a strong background in the Bible and do not know where to start.  Those who are new to the Bible will often begin reading it from the beggining, which seems logical, but quickly find that it bogs down around Exodus chapter 21.  Some of us look to Sunday morning sermons to help us access the Bible, but we don't always know where a given message fits into the overall story.  Some of us hear critiques about the Bible and woder if we can trust it to be reliable.  To answer these questions and help you gain a better undertanding of how to interpet and apply the Bible, I have produced a short booklet called Understanding the Bible.  
Thursday, 20 October 2016 16:12

Psalms of Lament

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Although our Western culture struggles with making room for sadness and grief, our biblical heritage makes room for these dark feelings through passages like the Psalms of lament. This last Sunday we reflected on Psalm 88 which is one of the rare Psalms that faces darkness and does not decidedly turn towards hope. Although passages like this can be difficult, they serve an important reminder to us that God gives us room to work through difficult emotions. He is comfortable with us venting our feelings and processing our doubts. The wider testimony of the scriptures is clear that God never abandons us, although the Psalms of lament also make it clear that sometimes we will feel like he has. We must remember that Christ entered into suffering on our behalf. He does not avoid it and he does not avoid us while we are in it. At the same time God uses our dark times and sad times to refine our faith and renew our dependence on him. So take the time that God gives you, cry out to him and know that he will never leave you or forsake you.
Monday, 19 September 2016 22:07

Faith and Faithfulness

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When James says that faith without deeds is dead, he is pointing to the fact that faith is more closely related to love than it is to knowledge. James is not saying that the way to please God is to believe in him and do good deeds, as if both are items on a list that we must checked off. What he is saying is that the true identity of faith is more than belief, it is action. Faith is not a one time decision, but rather a relationship of faithfulness. Faith is not saving faith unless it affect our lives.  We cannot look back on a profession of faith and thus declare that we are saved. While it is true that our salvation begins with a commitment, that commitment must continue to be lived out in the present. So doubt is not our greatest enemy as if a failure to believe perfectly would jeopardize our relationship with God. It is possible to wrestle with things that we do not understand and yet continue to live faithfully with God. Biblical faith is belief made complete by action. 
Thursday, 25 August 2016 00:00

Faith and Doubt Series

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On September 11, I will be starting a new preaching series on faith and doubt.  Faith is both belief and trust. Sometimes we over emphasize the belief aspect and consider that faith requires certainty, thus making an enemy of doubt. However, because of our finite human nature and the common experience of suffering, certainty is impossible. We must therefore emphasize the relational aspect of faith, seeing it as a commitment to a person within the context of uncertainty.  Faith and doubt are inseparable. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but the context in which faith is exercised.  In this series we will explore the nature of faith and look at Biblical examples of how people have wrestled with God in the midst of both intellectual uncertainty and suffering.  I hope this series will help you trust in God even when you do not understand what he is doing.
Monday, 25 July 2016 00:00

Agents of Grace

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Inscribed on the very heart of God’s grace is the rule that we can be its recipients only if we do not resist being made into its agents; what happens to us must be done by us.  (Mirollav Volf )

As part of course on reconciliation I was introduced to the book Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf.  This insightful book invites us to willingly embrace the other even as Christ embraced us. We cannot receive from God unless we are willing to be transformed by what we receive. We must make space for others, even our enemies. The only hope for peace in this world so split by differences is the model of Christ who gave of himself.  Our postmodern world has come to see that all concepts of justice and peace are biased by our perspective.  We cannot expect universal reason to guide us, for reason itself becomes a tool for oppression.  This world need to see the forgiveness of God enacted by the people of God.  We must be agents of grace.  

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 00:00

No you are a servant who ...

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This week we have over 300 youth and their leaders joining Emmanuel for Serve.  This is a week long service project where we shine God's light in our city.  On the second night, the speaker Sid Koop shared about how we need to have the identity of a servant.  He shared a story about how one of his kids was fascinated with skateboarding and said "I'm a skater"  Sid then corrected him, "No you are a servant who skates."  We are not defined by our pursuits, but rather as beloved children and servants of God.   This is good to remember.  We must let our priority for service define us and define how we do everything else we do.  We are not first musicians, or doctors or teachers or ball players.  We are servants who use the gifts, passions, talents, resources and moments for God.
Tuesday, 21 June 2016 00:00

Hide and Seek

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 I have recently experienced the joy of playing hide and seek with God. He has shown me that although he often seems hidden that he is willing to be found. When children play hide and seek, they do not assume that those hiding want to remain hidden forever. There is pleasure in the seeking and joy in the discovery. I have experienced this with God as I have noticed him in the circumstances of my life and in his word. This last Sunday I reflected on the book of Joel and shared a little of how I have experienced the voice of the Holy Spirit in my life. You can hear more of this by listening to the sermon online.Help me to make the effort and enjoy the pursuit.  What I've also noticed is that I don't always want to play the game. It takes energy and focus to spend time with God and maintain an openness to his Spirit. Too often I want to take the easy way out and distract myself with my computer or television. At these times I can complain that God is not present, but the truth is I'm the one that's not being present to him. Lord I want to look for you and find you each day. Ready or not here I come.
Thursday, 09 June 2016 00:00

Minor Prophets

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This summer our preaching series will be on the minor prophets. When we call these prophets from Hosea to Malachi minor prophets we do so only because their books are shorter than the likes of Isaiah Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  These 12 books represent some of the least known books in the Bible. They range throughout the history of Israel before and after the captivity in Babylon. We struggle with them often because we do not understand their context and because we can become overwhelmed with the themes of judgment.

There are some significant highlights in these books which can encourage our hearts. I think of the faithfulness of God expressed in Hosea's marriage, God's patience with rebellious Jonah, Micah's call to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God, Haggai's call to rebuild the temple, Habakkuk's joy in the midst of suffering and Zechariah's reminder that it's not by might nor by power but by God's Spirit.  Over these next few months we will look at significant passages in 10 of these 12 books. I hope you will join us each week or keep track online. I would also strongly encourage you to follow along with the Bible project videos that give excellent overviews of each of these books.

https://www.jointhebibleproject.com/

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