Sunday, November 30, 2008

Out of barren places

Luke 1:5-22 "5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 "You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb. 16 "And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 "It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 18 Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years." 19 The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time." 21 The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.

When God is involved, very simple, ordinary things take on new meaning. A donkey becomes a messenger of God. A staff becomes a snake and a symbol of God's power able to divide seas. At Christmas the trappings of the holiday can become more as well. The candles become symbols of the Holy Spirit's presence. Ceramic figurines remind us of the power of the incarnation. The evergreen tree reminds us that the wood of the cradle rubs up against the timbers of the cross. The sparkly lights can remind us of the angelic host telling the shepherds of the Good News of Jesus' birth.
God partnered with a very ordinary Mary and Joseph to accomplish extraordinary things. Indeed, Christmas is about ordinary people in regular life circumstances, in simple surroundings that are transformed by God's loving work in the world. Today we are going to look at unlikely characters having an unlikely experience.

We meet Zechariah and Elizabeth, a married couple with good lineage and also a good track record of faith and obedience to God. Elizabeth, however, is barren. In ancient times, people believed that the inability to conceive was directly related to sin; the punishment was a barrenness. Jesus later challenges this notion of sin and barrenness in His ministry. Today we do not believe sin to be the cause of infertility, but it is important to remember the context of Luke’s narrative—ancient people believed this connection existed. Luke wants people to know that Elizabeth and Zechariah were good people, obedient to God, who did not warrant this kind of punishment (v. 5 "In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord."). They were older in age, had lived their lives in service, and had probably prayed for several decades for a baby. What have you prayed for decades about? What dream of yours have you sent heavenward over the years? Have you heard an answer yet?

Here is the twist in their story: a barren woman beyond the age of childbearing is pregnant by the power of God. This isn’t the first time in Scripture that a barren woman had conceived. Look up the stories of Hannah and Sarah. God has done this for many women who participate in His plan for the world: a baby, who will do great things and fulfill God’s promises, needs to be born. Barren wombs that are opened are always opened for extraordinary purposes! Why does God choose barrenness as the birthplace for key people? One reason is it shows the proof of His power and His person. Remember also the temptations of Jesus and John the Baptist’s ministry – in the desert. Paul spent 3 years in the desert after his conversion.
It also gives a sense of His timing - He doesn't always choose a ready made man or woman that can jump into the ministry tomorrow. He starts with a baby and all of the world has to wait another 30 years while that baby grows. Remember in Egypt, and the children of Israel are crying out to God in their slavery? He calls Moses. The people had already been crying to God for hundreds of years, and they have to wait another 80 years until their deliverer comes. In Israel before the birth of Jesus they had been crying for another Deliverer who would get the Roman yoke off their shoulders. God's timing is not ours, and so after years of praying for a baby, and probably given up for Elizabeth was past the age of having children.

And one night, an angel comes to Zechariah (verses 11-20). Zechariah and the angel’s conversation is interesting. Gabriel goes into detail about who this child will be, how he is to be raised, what he will do, and the joy he will bring his parents—all wonderful, helpful, crucial things. And yet, Zechariah doesn’t buy it. His response is one of doubt and sheer disbelief that this could happen. He fails to be amazed at Gabriel’s message.
What is it that makes Zechariah question this heavenly messenger? Perhaps it is because the message seems impossible due to past disappointments and years of unanswered prayer. Questions are natural, doubts will come, but God still invites us to be a part of His grand plan. And there is nothing we can do, to thwart God's plan. We see there are consequences to Zechariah’s questioning. Gabriel told Zechariah that he would be unable to speak until the baby’s birth. Was this a punishment or a blessing? Zechariah would have a lot of time to listen to God while he sat silently for the coming months. It wouldn’t be Zechariah’s voice that would be heard, it would be the work of God seen by all. God works in extraordinary ways—even the blessing of silence!

We live in a world of broken promises. How many times do we get let down in a month, a year, a lifetime? Too many! How many disappointments do we face, heartaches do we feel, losses do we suffer? Too many! We ask God why things are happening to us. We beg God to give us what we want. We cry out and feel as if our voice is not heard. All this can lead people to a very jaded view of life and God. Even when we are given the greatest news in the world, like Zechariah, we don’t buy it or believe it. How could we? We have been disappointed one too many times. We have prayed one too many prayers. Years have gone by, no answer has come, and the pain grows greater. We may even begin to believe God doesn’t hear us. Some people say, “There is good news? So what, it is probably too good to be true.” Others continue to pray, talk with others, and make a lot of noise hoping someone, anyone, will hear. But we often wonder if anyone is really listening. When God does answer, like He did for Zechariah, we might not hear it, understand it, or believe it because of the noise in our hearts. The voice of disappointment can be louder than the voice of God’s promise.

I want to leave 3 thoughts with you. The first is to be faithful in prayer. God hears. Sometimes this is the hard work of our faith - to put our heads down and keep on praying, even when it looks like everything is against us. God is faithful. In His time He will provide what you need. Just understand that life is bigger than you. Life is more than your little universe, and God is weaving a tapestry of history that reveals His grace and love. Don't give up. Be patient. Whether it be needs in your life, in this church, in your friends, or as big as your country - God hears.

The second thing is to cling to Jesus in times of barrenness. Keep the hope of trust in Jesus. Understand that those dry, lonely places are where God loves to work. There is a relationship with God you can develop that those with plenty don't understand. God will meet you there as He has met countless others. Cling to Jesus, He will not dissappoint.

Finally, be ready for God to answer. You don't know what wonderful surprise God is working on. The Israelites prayed for a Messiah and He came, and in the midst of their barrenness and crying they weren't ready to accept Him and what He stood for. He came and brought a New Covevnant, one filled with love and grace, but they said no, for they loved their law. Are you prepared to accept what God brings?

Advent is the time we celebrate the fulfillment of the promised Messiah. For centuries the people longed for a Messiah. They prayed time and again; they waited year after year for the Messiah. Despite the long wait, God didn’t disappoint. The Messiah did come; Jesus Christ was born. God is always faithful, God is always at work, and God always keeps His promises. Even if we don’t believe Him, God is still faithful. God is patient with us just like He was with Zechariah. Despite Zechariah’s disbelief, John was born; God answered the prayer. God has given each of us the gift of Jesus Christ: the promise of new life, hope, and forgiveness. We may not have every prayer answered in the way we hope or expect, but the best answer has been given: Jesus. If we will just listen, we will be able to see how God is at work in our lives, our world, and our churches.
Let’s quiet our hearts before God. Zechariah was an ordinary person whom God used for extraordinary things, that can be true of you also. Hear what God wants to say to you today: “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Running the Race to Win: The Pursuit of Biblical Holiness

Psalm 139:1-14, 23-24 “1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," 12 even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. 13 You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

What is holiness? What does it look like in our life? Let me share 3 ways holiness affects our lives:

1) Awareness of our shortcomings and sins.

It is not just Christians who often lack a realistic awareness of their short comings, but we seem to do it so easily! We may base the estimation of our character and conduct upon comparisons with those with whom we associate (2 Corinthians 10:12). We almost develop a “Holier Than Thou” club with our friends – these friends who instead of holding a mirror to us to help us see ourselves for who we really are, hold a hand drawn caricature instead, of what they think we want to be.

It is only when God’s people are confronted with the glory and holiness of God will they realize the full moral dilemma of their lives (Isaiah 6:5; James 1:25; Hebrews 4:12-13).

Being human talks about how we struggle with eternity in our souls. Paul talks about being citizens of 2 worlds of how even though we have these flesh and blood bodies, we also have a heavenly citizenship. So there are tensions in us. The infinite struggles with the fintite.

There is an inner tension between knowledge and performance (motivation) (Romans 7:18-19 “18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”) There is a struggle not just of right and wrong, but the underlying motive that defines right and wrong. I am not talking about situational ethics, but about the purpose of our actions.

Saul the Pharisee kept the Law to gain acceptance with God. He had the motivation and energy to fulfill the Law as God demanded (Philippians 3:4-6)

Paul the Apostle understood the true purpose of the Law (to reveal his inability to keep it) and his own moral weakness/failures (Romans 7:24)

There is also an inner tension between the flesh and the Spirit (emotion) (Galatians 5:13-26 “13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.) Cf. deeds of the flesh verse 19-21 and Fruit of the Spirit verses 22-23 Have you ever acted out of emotion? Someone runs into you on the ski hill and you start yelling and pushing. Someone cuts you off on the highway and you not only beep your horn, but you tailgate him and allow your anger to finish your conversation. Someone working in your office gets a big bonus and that spirit of jealousy sets you on a path to talk down about them or ignore them. Someone comes in from the outside and starts crowding your territory so you start complaining and talking about them behind their back. You begin to try to get people on your side. Listen to the next few verses in Galatians 5 – “19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The more the Christian learns to practise the denial of the flesh and to experience the control of the Holy Spirit, the more he will enter into the resolution of this tension; but the more he understands the demands of the perfect Law, the more he will experience this tension.

This is the tension between commitment and realization. We have the ideal set up for us in the Scriptures, especially in the life of Jesus. The reality of us living it out, though, can be very frustrating. This leads to the second affect holiness has on our lives.

2) Release from our failures.

I Thessalonians 4:3 says that our sanctification is the “will of God”. In other words, it is not just an awareness of our shortcomings and sin, but the sense we are no longer doomed to be slaves to sin. Romans 6:6 says “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” That means that our goal, which is to become Christ-like, is attainable! That saying that the “devil made me do it” is just a cop out, because God has provided everything you need to live a holy life. God has set you free from sin. He has set you free from bondage. Can you imagine being sick for a long time and then healed. I read that report from Danny Gales a couple weeks ago where the man’s legs which hung loose and useless from his body gained strength and were healed. He could jump and leap, and 50 Muslims ran to the alter seeking God. He was released from that thing that held him in its grip, and holiness does that same thing in our hearts and souls. Are you needing release from all that life has thrown against you? Do you need freedom from sin and that thing inside you that you constantly fight against? Turn to Jesus, the One who said “if the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed!”

3) Power for our life and focus

Holiness reveals to you the possibility of the fullness of the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 5:18 says to “be filled with the Spirit”. The verb tense gives the meaning of being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit”. This is understood as allow the Spirit to have control of your life. It is not some “ookie spookie” thing where you zone out or channel a spirit through you. It is about you saying, “God, I can’t do it without You. I need to hear you speak to me through the Bible, to hear that still quiet voice that encourages and leads and guides and directs.” You want to hear that voice? Do 2 things.

First, have a willingness to confess any sin of omission or commission. We grieve the Holy Spirit when we keep sin in our life. 1 John 1:9 says that if “we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Remember that verse from Psalm 139? Ask God to search and try your heart to reveal unconfessed sin in your life. End each day by praying that prayer. You will hear that small, gentle voice.

Secondly, you need a desire to realize the fullness of the Spirit. God pursues us. We need to also be pursuing Him. Do you think that all we have to do is to sit still and God will flood His blessings and accomplish His will in your life? No. You have to surrender your life, all your stuff to Him. You need to understand that you are a steward in this life, that all the things you have from your bank account to your spouse or job or even health, is God’s, and that He has given it to you as a trust. He has given you talents and strengths, be it two talents or five. What are you doing with them? DO you acknowledge they are His or do you hang on to them, hording them for yourself? God came to give you an abundant life, but it was a spiritual abundance. This stuff is just stuff, and it will all be gone one day; but your soul will last forever. The soul of your neighbour, of your brother or sister – how are you using the things God has given you to glorify Himself, to reveal Himself?

Jesus came to glorify the Father, to reveal the character of the Father to the world. We are called to become like Jesus, and in so doing reveal the Father to the world ourselves.

Taking it Home

So, what does sanctification look like day to day?

Know yourself as God knows you: read the Word everyday.

Have the same attitude as Jesus: Put others first, and pursue a life of love.

Keep in step with the Holy Spirit: pray without ceasing.

Emmanuel means God with us. We celebrate the incarnation at Christmas time especially, but every day is Christmas in our hearts. Jesus came as a baby so long ago that He might dwell in our hearts. He is there right now, if you have confessed your sins and invited Him in as your Leader, as your Lord. Take time today to talk with Him and walk with Him.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Emmanuel - God With Me

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 “10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (NASB)

Sometimes we live life “out there”. Things are in motion and we just “go with the flow”. It is as if life is lived outside of us, and we have little input. Often this happens when we become driven by goals – and it is not always our fault. Consider the person who is deeply in debt and trying to pay things off. Life for them consists of a lot of work and scant money available for any “extras”. Life becomes “work long, eat simple, watch T.V. and sleep”.
For the one dealing with serious health issues life becomes consumed by doctors appointments, diets, drugs, hospital visits, and the like. For the one getting married… well, the focus is on The Day until it arrives. Sometimes we just let life begin to happen, and we, without realizing it, draw back from actively pursuing life and become much more passive. Life begins to dictate to us what we do, and when we do it. Then a big “out of the blue” event happens and we wonder where that came from, but often it came from our inattentiveness to life and health. It is that whole seagull at Niagara Falls story… Remember?
We need to stop regularly, though, and make sure we tune in to the life that is not “out there” but “in here”, in our hearts. 1 Corinthians 3:16 states this emphatically: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
So, we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit dwells within us. What does that mean for us? It should mean that we understand our purpose in life much better. It should mean that our course in life has some very definite direction.

Let me suggest 3 priorities that should invade our day to day life because of who we are in Jesus, and then unpack one of them.

1) Strengths: God has called us to a purpose and equipped us for that purpose. Look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” God has given us both general things like the Word and His Spirit to guide and direct and empower us for ministry, but He has also given us gifts. In Ephesians 4:12 we have that same word “equipping” used in relation to all of us in our ministry. My favourite part of Bonnie’s book Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You is the following picture: “God gazes down at a child (let's say the child is you), a big grin on His face. His eyes twinkle at the sight of you. An angel stands behind Him, holding an enormous book filled with every good thing. Page after page of strengths, talents, and breathtaking abilities. Qualities that are found in The Creator of this child. The angel thumbs through the book. "Most Holy One, which gifts will You give this child?" God's eyes dance with delight as He ponders the wonders He can bestow upon you. He doesn’t want to rush this moment of joyous contemplation. He peers down at you, His smile growing. Suddenly, God throws his head back and laughs with pure joy. The sound is like every bird on earth singing all at once. Oh, He knows you so well. He knows what will bring you joy. The angel laughs with God. "Will you give this child courage? A love of nature? A sense of humor? Creativity?” The Lord of Heaven and Earth touches your cheek. "To this child I’ve already given the greatest gift of all. I have given my Child, so that we can forever be connected, in relationship." Then God, overflowing with happiness, throws His arms over His head and dances around you. "But even still, I have every good gift to give. I’m generous beyond all human measure. The joy it brings me is uncontainable." The Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, bends down and whispers in your ear, "Here my child. These are for you. I give you these gifts. Grow in them. Explore them. Use them to bring glory to My name. Let them be a constant reminder of My great love for you." "Pursue that purpose… go after it with all your heart.

2) Salvation: People in your life who need to hear the Gospel. There are so many ways to picture life. Think of truth. You are following Jesus because in Him you found truth. THE truth. The truth that provides the answer to the question, “Why?” Maybe we can’t articulate it perfectly, or explain it well to someone who is antagonistic to us, but you know in your deepest places that the God who created the ends of the earth created you and wants a relationship with you. It is wonderful! It changed your life. Now look at your neighbour, the mechanic who works on your car, your financial advisor, maybe a child or parent or sibling, and they don’t know. You have this wonderful truth, and they don’t. What are you gonna do? What does God want you to do? There’s a song by Larry Norman that goes like this:

When you know a pretty story you don't let it go unsaid

You tell it to your children as you tuck them into bed

And when you know a wonderful secretyou tell it to your friends

Because a lifetime filled with happinessis like a street that never ends

Sing that sweet sweet song of salvation and let your laughter fill the air

Sing that sweet sweet song of salvation and tell the people everywhere

Sing that sweet sweet song of salvation to every man and every nation

Sing that sweet sweet song of salvation and let the people know that Jesus cares

Look around you as you sing it there are people everywhere

And to those who stop and listen this sweet song becomes a prayer

'Cause when you know a wonderful secret you tell it to your friends

Tell them that a lifetime filled with Jesus is like a street that never ends

Sing that sweet sweet song of salvation and let your laughter fill the air

Sing that sweet sweet song of salvation and tell the people everywhere

Sing that sweet sweet song of salvation to every man and every nation

Sing that sweet sweet song of salvation and let the people know that Jesus cares

1 Peter 3:15
“…always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you…”

3. Sanctification: People in your life who are your brothers and sisters in Christ. They need to be encouraged. They need someone to come alongside and challenge them to keep close to Jesus. We are a community here. It’s not about who’s better than the next one, or who has a more up front position. It is about working together as we all walk on this pilgrimage to Christ-likeness. Some of us may be further along than another. The only thing that means is that we have more responsibility to model and lead the way for those that follow.

3 priorities: Strengths, Salvation, Sanctification. These are not things to just talk about, they are priorities Jesus wants us to focus on in life.

Let me unpack the second one quickly. What does a person need to know to be saved? How do we lead someone to Jesus. There are three things, so they are easy to remember.

1. Recognize that you can’t “do it”. Do what? Do life – be good enough-deal with sin. The question to ask is this, “If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?” No one is strong enough, or good enough to do it. Think Grand Canyon – it is just to big to cross. There is that issue of sin, and most people will admit it. Read Romans 3:23, and Romans 6:23. In fact, the first 7 chapters of Romans is all about us not being able to do it. You have to give up – give up trying to do it all yourself.

2. Realize God “did it” for us. Jesus did what you and I could not. He dealt with the sin problem, and died for your sins personally. Romans 8:1 says there is now no condemnation for those in Jesus. Romans 6:23 says that the free gift of God is eternal life. And when Jesus does something, He does it all the way. There is nothing more to do, the work is done. Remember the Grand Canyon, He is the bridge. You have to accept what He did for you. How do you do that?

3) Release your hold on life, and give it to Jesus. We do that by confess our sin, and seeking God’s will. It is about surrender. The answer is simple – Christ in us; but it is hard, because it means we have to surrender our life to Him. When we accept Jesus we accept Him as both Savior and Lord, as Forgiver and Leader. It is not just a prayer and then life is all good. Romans 10:9-10 says “9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

Do you see how it involves both the decision of your mind as well as the focus of your heart? It is not just about a prayer we said 20 years ago. It is about what you are doing with Jesus today. What are you doing with Jesus today?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Too Long

It has been a crazy month, and it has been hard to get back into the routine (which is important to how I work). We had a great month at the church with a lot of different things happenning. On October 5 we had a former pastor of LSCC come and speak for our denomination's 100th anniversary (Rev. Doug Cooney).

On October 19 I was in Ontario helping my parents move so we had Dr Gord Giesbrecht, from Horizon College here in Saskatoon come and speak. His lovely wife Debra played the piano for us and I appreciate greatly their friendship and ministry. Bonnie said Gord brought a message that was quite pertinent for our congregation.

On October 26 we had a missions emphasis, with a DVD that was also quite touching. Bonnie and I were at our district's clergy conference in Banff that weekend.

On November 2 we had Marilee Pierce Dunker, a daughter of Dr Bob Pierce (who founded World Vision and Samaritan's Purse). She did just a super job, and emphasized the Nazarene connection her dad had (he was saved at a Nazarene church).

On November 9 we had a service with the Royal Canadian Legion. There were 50 of them, so they almost outnumbered us 2:1, but after a touching service they invited us for lunch back at the Legion.

So here I am back in the office! My plan is to continue back posting sermons into 2007 while keeping current week to week, so do check back and see what is new.

In the meantime, I continue to peruse a few blogs and make comments. My latest one is here:
I should be the 5th or 6th comment down.