David Dawson

David Dawson

Thursday, 09 June 2016 00:00

Minor Prophets

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.


Monday, 30 May 2016 00:00

Called to Ministry

This coming Sunday I will be ordained as a minister of the gospel in the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. I am grateful for the affirmation of many here at Emmanuel and for the process of discernment which culminated in my appearing before the ordination council on May 6 of this year. When I reflect back on my life and the choice to pursue pastoral ministry, a lot of credit goes to my involvement in campus Ministry at Simon Fraser University. The opportunity to be discipled by guys like Brad, Jack and Ken helped me to enjoy serving others, exploring Scripture and sharing my faith. By the time I finished my business degree, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I pursued theological training. For me the two factors which most influenced me to pursue a ministry were the joy of learning and teaching and the affirmation of others who saw gifts in me and encouraged me to develop them. Calling to ministry is both a private and public process. There needs to be a desire from within planted by the Holy Spirit, but this desire needs to be confirmed by the discernment of others. I don't think I'll ever have a sense of worthiness of this ministry. I see my own imperfections to well. At the same time I am encouraged by many who appreciate my leadership and my insight. With this in mind I am looking forward to the ordination service. I am sure I will feel the weight of responsibility, but I will also feel the support of both God and everyone here at Emmanuel.
Friday, 13 May 2016 00:00

True to the core

logsLately I have been trying to listen to God and look for messages and metaphors in the things I see around me. This past week Julia and I were at Barnabas family ministries on Keats Island for a r
etreat. On a walk I came across a stack of logs where I sat for a while. My attention was drawn to many of the logs which had rotten cores. The outer wood was still in good shape but the tree had been dying from the inside out. I later learned that this was called pocket rot and
 that there is no way to see this until the tree is cut down. I felt that God was speaking to me in this metaphor and calling me to stay true on the inside. I want to be faithful throughout my life. I want to have a vibrant inner life. I want to be spiritually healthy 
in my outer life and at the ceter of my being.
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 00:00

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

It is helpful to make a distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. We sometimes use these terms interchangeably, but the difference is like that of a one way and a two way street.  I prefer to use the word forgiveness to describe the work in the heart of the forgiver to put aside the quest for vengeance and move towards blessing. Forgiveness is something that can be done by one person regardless of how the other responds. Reconciliation is the restoration of relationship that can only come when there is both forgiveness and repentance. It is possible to forgive someone and not be reconciled because the other person refuses to change. In terms of our relationship with God, salvation should be understood as reconciliation. God has done the work of forgiveness, but we need to repent and trust him. I believe that God has a forgiving heart towards all people, but not everyone has a restored relationship with him.  This understanding of forgiveness as a work primarily in the heart of the forgiver challenges us to take the first step.  It can make forgiveness safer because it need not imply full trust towards an urpentnat offender,m but it also takes away our excuses for we cannot sit back and say "I will forgive only if they ask for it".
Tuesday, 26 April 2016 00:00

Unfair Grace

Reflecting on the parable of the workers in the vineyard from Matthew chapter 20, I have come to realize that I need unfair grace.  When I complain about something being unfair I am usually taking the position that it has been unfair towards me. The assumption is that I deserve better. When it comes to my position with God, however, it is a dangerous thing to assume a privileged position.  This is called self-righteousness. It is the assumption that I have earned my favor with God.  But with God none of us deserve his generosity. I need to see myself as the worker that was hired later in the day who received better than he deserved. When I look at my own heart and recognize that I need a saviour, I am glad for God's unfair grace who gives me more and better than I have earned.
Monday, 18 April 2016 00:00

Harder than expected

One of the most surprising aspects of the parables of Jesus is that they exist not to make things easier but rather to make them more difficult. In Matthew 13:13 Jesus says "this is why I speak to them in parables though seeing they do not see though hearing they do not hear or understand." Typically we think that the simple stories of Jesus in the parables were meant to provide accessible illustrations to his spiritual truths, but Jesus seems to say the opposite. The interpretations are not simple and thus serve to challenge the listener. The teaching method of Jesus seems to include tests. He tests one's hunger for the truth. By hiding his truth in parables he invites us to dig deeper and work harder. Those who are willing to go to him ask for interpretations and fight through to find the truth show themselves to be worthy. If you want to be a follower of Jesus you're going to have to work at it  You're going to have to show yourself to be a lover of the truth. Like the parable of the sower you need to show that your heart is not hard and that you will receive seed of the Word when it comes to you.
Thursday, 31 March 2016 00:00

Strategy for Everybody

Recently I attended the Northwest ministry conference in Seattle and the keynote speaker, Carey Nieuwhof,  spoke about the importance of strategy. He suggested that a lack of strategy can kill vision. We can have good ideas but do not know how to translate them into reality. As he spoke I felt good about the ministry plan that Emmanuel has developed recently. We have done the hard work of looking at both vision and strategy. When he described the strategy that he developed at his church I realized that Emmanuel has problem. We have done a good job of creating organizational strategies, plans that guide ministry leaders, but we have not done a good job of inspiring the average person. When our priorities include developing welcoming teams and being more creative in worship services this offers good guidance to pastors and leaders but the average person can feel like they have no part to play.

This coming Sunday I want to introduce some strategies for the average person. I've come up with four strategies that each person can adopt, four ways in which we can all work together for God's glory at Emmanuel.

1. Pray that God will work among us with power.
2. Meet with someone to practice your faith.
3. Take the initiative to welcome newcomers.
4. Invest in friendships outside the church.

These strategies correlate with our organizational priorities but use language that include every person in the work of the church. This is my first crack at strategy for everybody.

Thursday, 10 March 2016 00:00

Easter Services

flowercrossGood Friday

April 14, 10:30 am

Participate in the Passion Story told through the final seven sayings of Christ. Service will include choral music and communion.

Easter Sunday

April 16, 10:30 am

Join in the good news of Easter through singing, special music, baptism and flowering the cross. Sermon: “I am the resurrection and the life”

Thursday, 10 March 2016 00:00

Crossing Cultures

We had a good missions and training conference last Saturday where our theme was crossing cultures in your neighbourhood and world. We live in a complicated time where cultural perspectives differ widely. This was contrasted well in a couple of our workshops. In one I heard from a First Nations presenter who while believing different things about the spiritual world definitely shared a perspective similar to Christianity which is open to the impact of the transcendent and spiritual. In another workshop we discussed the work of Charles Taylor who describes our secular age as one which lives within an imminent frame, closed off to the possibility of the transcendent and spiritual. In interacting with people these days, we cannot take for granted what a person believes or does not believe. We must be more careful to listen before we speak. If I want to share my Christian faith with someone ,it makes a big difference whether that person is open or closed to the possibility of something more than the material. I am convinced that every conversation is a cross cultural experience.
Monday, 29 February 2016 00:00

Sabbath Rest

In considering Matthew 12 and Jesus' approach to the Sabbath I have gained a new appreciation for the day of rest. I share Christ's concern that Sabbath keeping is in danger of becoming legalistic and stifling. Yet this does not mean that we should give up on concept altogether. We need rest for our soul which only Christ can give, but we also need rest for our bodies in a busy and stressful world.

I recently returned to the book "Keeping the Sabbath Wholly" by Marva J Dawn. This insightful book offers many ideas to stimulate Sabbath keeping as a positive spiritual blessing. She recognizes four aspects, ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting. We must be disciplined to both refrain from some things and include others. She unpacks each of these four perspectives in multiple ways. For example ceasing includes putting aside not only productivity and accomplishment but also our worries and possessions. Resting can include physical spiritual and emotional and intellectual rest. Embracing and feasting include filling our lives with beauty, peace, friends and worship.

While I cannot give you a full sense of this book I leave you with this quote: "First of all, it is foundational to decide that you want to keep the Sabbath. You can add, modify, even delete certain practices as your customs develop, but the important beginning point is to be adamant about the day – that it will be set aside for ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting...We are adamant about setting aside the day because we have freely chosen to observe it in response to God's grace, not because we have to fulfil an onerous obligation.
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