David Dawson

David Dawson

Monday, 17 August 2015 00:00

The Nature of Faith

Life with God is built on faith, but it is important for us to have a clear understanding of the nature of faith. It is too easy to intellectualize one's faith and consider that God is interested only in our beliefs. Faith however, requires that we act on our beliefs. Hebrews 11:6 say that "without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." This verse shows us the importance of belief but notice that even in this verse the point is that we must come to God. Our beliefs must motivate us to actively trust.

As I shared on Sunday, one of my favourite illustrations of the nature of faith comes from the story of the tight rope walker named Blondin. In this illustration the distinction is made between a person who believes in the ability of the tight rope walker and the person who is willing to actively put herself in his hands.  Check out this short video on Blondin.


Tuesday, 04 August 2015 00:00

Foolishness in Conflict

This video was passed on to me in response to my sermon on wisdom in conflict. It is a good illustration of how not to approach conflict. Almost any one of the Proverbs that I dealt with in my sermon could have defused this whole situation. This matter could've been let go.  The confrontation could have been made with less attitude and anger. The rebuke could have been responded to without defensiveness. Instead the conflict escalates to comic proportions. 


Monday, 27 July 2015 00:00

Wake up Calls

In my study regarding wisdom in our words, I came across this video which talks about the importance of moral wake-up calls. There is power in helping people see the significance of their words and deeds. This is one of the ways in which Proverbs function.  They identify wisdom for us so that when we face the challenges of life, we are open to God and alert to his ways.


Monday, 20 July 2015 00:00

Money is not the problem

Money is not the problem, love is. Our greatest spiritual threats are almost always misplaced affections. And the danger of money is that it is easily loved. This is a message that rings forth from the Old Testament wisdom literature and from the teachings of Christ. In yesterday's sermon you can discover what proverbs has to say about money, but consider also these words from Ecclesiastes 5:10 "Whoever loves money never has money enough whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income this too is meaningless." This is the spiritual power of wealth. It keeps us wanting more.  
Tuesday, 14 July 2015 00:00

Wisdom in Parallel

As I mentioned in my sermon on Sunday, Hebrew poetry and wisom literature make use of parallelism. Proverbs in particular are usually constructed parallel phrases. The second phrase will help interpret the first. Sometimes it is a contrast, sometimes it is an elaboration and sometimes it is a simple restatement. This principle of interpretation has helped me understand deeper truths. As mentioned on Sunday I have found this helpful in understanding what it means to fear the Lord. I used the example of Proverbs 15:33 which holds the "fear of the Lord" in parallel with humility. Just today, in my reading of chapter 28, I found another verse on this topic. Proverbs 28:14 reads, "Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." This contrasting parallelism shows that the opposite of fearing the Lord is to harden one's heart.  To fear the Lord is to have an openness towards God's, a soft heart that receives from him. I hope that as you read through the book of Proverbs this understanding of parallelism will open up God's wisdom for you.  My you have a soft heart to recieve God's wisdom.
Monday, 22 June 2015 00:00

Judgment and Freedom

Yesterday I spoke about judgment and hell asking the question can a good God send people to Hell? It is a difficult subject and I'm thankful for the works of Timothy Keller C S Lewis which have helped me address this concern. Reflecting today I am struck by this quote from C S Lewis in The Problem of Pain: " In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: what are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But he has done so on Calvary."  I am comforted by a God who has done all that he can to rescue people from judgment and hell. Yet it remains true that even omnipotence cannot force a free will and have that person remain free.  Forgiveness cannot be impossed, it must be received.  
Monday, 15 June 2015 00:00

The Rapture and the second coming

I am thankful that our statement of faith does not commit to specific prophetic details regarding the second coming of Christ.  I am glad that we make room for a variety of beliefs in this matter.  My personal understanding has changed on this topic.  While at one time I favored a pre-tribulation rapture, the writings of Ladd and Gundry among others have shown me that the biblical descriptions of the rapture are connected to the second coming.  The main passage which speaks of the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:17, where we see the words "caught up".  It is described in context with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet call of God.  Nowhere in this passage is there a description of the timing in relation to the tribulation.  If we compare other passages where the trumpet is sounded we can get a sense of the timing.  We see that in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 we will be changed at the last trumpet and in Matthew 24:30-31 we see that the second coming of Christ will be announced by a trumpet and the elect will be gathered.  It seems clear to me that the trumpet described in all three of these passages, must be the same.  Being caught up at the trumpet call will be at the last trumpet when Christ returns.  Let's not get caught up in the details, but rather rejoice in the hope that Christ will return, bringing justice and establishing his presence in a new heaven and a new earth.  Amen come Lord Jesus. 

Monday, 08 June 2015 00:00

Word and Deed.

I am convinced that it is important that we bear witness to Christ in both word and deed.  Speaking about the grace of God without showing the grace of God is useless.  Yet good deeds are not enough to help people find a relationship with Christ.  I feel the pressure of balancing both.  Our recent adult class series "Vanishing Grace" by Phillip Yancey has made a good case for the importance of being grace dispensers in our cynical culture.  This is so hard and so important when the media is quick to pick up on any harsh and judgmental religious message.  In another book by Kevin DeYoung, (What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission), I read that " In the end, the Great Commission must be the mission of the church for two very basic reasons: there is something worse than death, and there is something better than human flourishing.  I think this will always be a bit of a balancing act but I am convinced that if we walk by the Spirit, we will be used by God even when we make mistakes.  With a gentleness and courage I think we will avoid the serious errors of hypocrisy and fear.  May God guide us as we act and as we speak.  
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 00:00

Cuba was Good for Me

I am thankful for the opportunity to join a CBM mission trip to Cuba last week.  It was a pleasure to see how the church is growing in this land.  While many of the cars and buildings seem to be falling into disrepair, there is evidence that leaders are being trained and churches are growing.  I have much to reflect on after my trip.  One lesson that I want to apply on a personal level is the challenge to be more relational.  The Latin culture in Cuba is very friendly.  Churches exist as extended families and many pastor live in or near their church buildings.  Greetings are more intimate.  Everyone seems to hug and touch cheeks.  For a more introverted Canadian, this takes some adjustment.  One of the nights after a three day pastor's retreat we had a night of fun.  The Cubans wanted to see some Canadian dancing, so we obliged and tried to teach square dancing, which was fun but confusing.  Each of us Canadian pastors were then forced to join in some Latin dancing.  We were awkward, but happy.  Alongside the relational Cuban culture, I also say the importance of teambuilding among our small group of Canadians.  Living for a week in a room with bunk beds and spending almost every waking hour together could have created some friction.  I was pleased with how encouraging the team was.  I felt appreciated and several good friendships were formed.  Cuba was good for me because I see in a fresh was the importance of relationships, friendships and teamwork.  I want to invest more in getting to know people here at Emmanuel and continue to build a welcoming community.
Thursday, 21 May 2015 00:00

Resurrection And Motivation

I have been reading and preaching on themes of hope and the future.  One of the books that I have enjoyed is N.T. Wright's book "Surprised by Hope".  With him I am happy to affirm that the Christian view of the future has nothing to do with disembodied souls in some kind of fluffy cloud heaven.  We will receive spiritual bodies and enjoy God's presence in a new heaven and a new earth.  One of the struggles I have with Wright's book is that he sees a clear connection to this view of resurrection and our motivation to make a difference in the world today.  He says that "people who believe in the resurrection, in God making a whole new world in which everything will be set right at last, are unstoppably motivated to work for that new world in the present. (p. 214)  Earlier he suggests that somehow our work in this world will make it through and be redeemed in the next.  "You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are— strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself— accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world. (p. 208)  Although I like his sentiment, this seems too bold a statement especially in light of 2 Peter 3:10.  When I think of ruins of past civilizations it seems evident to me that our work in this world may not be part of the next.  For me the motivation to live and work in this world comes more from the truth of creation than from resurrection.  Indeed resurrection does affirm that God approves of bodies and creation, but we do not need to say that every good work today will become part of God's new world.  God as creator and redeemer is clearly interested in this world.  Earthly flourishing now is a part of his gracious salvation.  It is entirely wrong to say that God will one day make a new earth so why bother caring for this one.  We can and should work to make this a more just and beautiful world.  This is our mandate from creation.  This world is still a gift from God.

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