Jan 6, 2019
  • Jan 6, 2019Waiting
    Jan 6, 2019
  • Dec 30, 2018What is Worship?
    Dec 30, 2018
    What is Worship?
  • Dec 24, 2018Is Your ‘Night Light’ Reliable?
    Dec 24, 2018
    Is Your ‘Night Light’ Reliable?
  • Dec 23, 2018Is Joy Really Possible?
    Dec 23, 2018
    Is Joy Really Possible?
  • Dec 16, 2018Joseph’s Dilemma in Four Words
    Dec 16, 2018
    Joseph’s Dilemma in Four Words
  • Dec 9, 2018Mary’s Dilemma…and The Questions Christmas Asks
    Dec 9, 2018
    Mary’s Dilemma…and The Questions Christmas Asks
    Pondering the Meaning of the Story                The story of inquisitive travellers who missed the meaning of the moment at hand and who were impoverished at a spiritual and emotional level as a result.  Quote David Brooks:  “In the Hermitage we paused momentarily in front of Rembrandt’s masterpiece “The Return of the Prodigal Son.”...The painting is a masterpiece, emotionally gripping and morally complex.  But on this tour, we talked about none of its meanings.  The guide did not tell the story.  There really was no time to pause before the passion.  The painting was just another notable thing to notice on the way to a dozen more notable things.  It left no mark.”                Most of us are aware of the Christmas story, yet it is possible in the busyness and noise of daily life to fail to grasp the meaning and relevance of the story.  It is possible to yawn our way through the Christmas season because we are familiar with the story.  But...are we gripped afresh by the wonder, meaning and relevance of the story of the birth of Jesus?  Are we taking time to ‘pause before the passion’ of God’s love in sending his Son to our planet?  Let’s step into the lives of those integral to the Christmas story and see if the questions they asked are pertinent to us. Mary’s Story and Unexpected Plot Twists:  Luke 1:26-34                Some background:  Gabriel the angel sent by God with a specific message for Mary.  Gabriel is one of only two angels named in Scripture.  The other one?  Michael the archangel.  The name Gabriel can mean two things...’God is my hero’ or ‘mighty man of God.’ Gabriel speaks words of thoughtful reassurance.  Vs.28-30  A little more background!  Mary is a virgin, pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. In a sense ‘legally married’ but without physical consummation.  She is a virgin.                Now, this is where things get very interesting!  Vss. 31-34.  The angel informs Mary that she will become pregnant and give birth to the Son of God.  If you are Mary that statement will give you pause for thought!  She doesn’t have to worry about working through a list of names and making a choice.  “You are to call him Jesus.” Vs.31.  Gabriel gives further details about her son. Vss. 32-33 As a young Jewish woman she was well acquainted with ancient prophecies regarding the promised Messiah. Eg. Isaiah 7:14, 53, Micah 5:2.  The name and titles given to the baby are massively important to understand the Christmas story accurately.                The name Jesus means ‘the LORD saves’...the Greek form of the name Joshua. Consider Matthew 1:21 “he will save his people from their sins.”  The name reveals his life and death purpose.  Further:  “he will be great and be called the Son of the Most High.”  Jesus is “the divine Son of God and the (promised) Messiah born in his time... Most High, a title frequently used of God in the OT and NT...the Messiah descended from David (Psalm 2:6-7 and Isaiah 9:6-7)...his kingdom will never end.” And his kingdom is first and foremost a place of authority, leadership and love in the human heart.  Yours include, if you are willing to respond to him. Pause and Ponder:  The Questions Christmas Answers:   Question# 1:  Who is this baby laid in a manger?                This baby is the fulfillment of the promise of God to provide a Saviour from sin.  A Saviour for you and me.  Will you thoughtfully consider the name given, Jesus?  Will you consider the meaning of the name and the relevance to you?  Will you investigate the story as revealed in the Bible?  Will you ask questions of people you trust so that...and this is huge...that you would consider asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and reconnect you with God the Father in a personal way?   Question # 2:  How will this birth come about given Mary is a virgin?  Luke 1:34-37.  A legitimate question is posed by Mary.  Gabriel answers her in a clear and direct manner.  God will perform a miracle.  God will intervene.  Will you and I believe that God intervenes in human history...or not?  This is where faith comes into play.  Not a blind/unthinking belief, but a thoughtful faith that gives room for the existence and powerful and purposeful activity of God in human history.  That embraces supernatural reality.   Question # 3:  Why does God intervene in this way?  Love for people, one at a time like you and me. John 3:16-17. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son...” Mary’s Response: Luke 1:38-39                Thoughtful submission to the authority and purpose of God that involves her.  This is amazing, knowing that eyebrows will be raised, the scent of scandal trailing her, yet a resolve to trust God and do his bidding as utterly unexpected and mind boggling as it is. Now...the Question Christmas Asks                What will you make of this story found in the Bible?  What will you do with this person called Jesus and the offer of forgiveness of sins extended to you?  What next steps will you take in your spiritual journey of investigation and inquiry?                As a follower of Jesus, how goes your availability and obedience to God’s call currently?  What can you learn about faith and obedience from the life of Mary in hard to imagine circumstances? We want to invite you to pause and ponder the passion and purpose of God’s great love in sending his son...the Word made flesh...Jesus revealing God the Father to us.  John 1:14-18.                Let this Christmas season be thoughtfully reflected upon and pondered...moving you to consider Jesus, to believe in Jesus, to follow Jesus in the journey of life, a following marked by faith, hope and love, ready to help others find answers to their questions.
  • Dec 2, 2018What is the Plan?
    Dec 2, 2018
    What is the Plan?
  • Nov 25, 2018Church Family Relationships_Part 2
    Nov 25, 2018
    Church Family Relationships_Part 2
    Series: Navigate
    What a Beautiful ‘Thing’                The local church family when relating wisely, lovingly, humbly and courageously with each other, is an arresting and inspiring ‘thing’ of relational beauty.  “Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3  Ours is to cooperate with him and each other.  That takes humility, courage, persistence, perspective and God’s provisions of wisdom and power along the way.   Navigating Church Family Relationships Requires Thinking Wisely and Behaving Maturely in 3 Realms
    1. Remember Who...and Whose You Are:  Ephesians 4:17-24
    If you have placed your faith for forgiveness of sins and the possibility of a new kind of life, in Jesus, you are a new person...the ‘old’ ways...values, priorities and pursuits are potentially gone; live with a new and maturing mindset that is guided by the life, teachings and example of Jesus.  Be done with self centered and destructive ways of thinking and living.                 
    1. Keep Short Accounts Relationally:  Ephesians 4:25-28
    This is where navigating moments and circumstances of tension, misunderstanding and conflict can be challenging, unsettling and awkward.  Yet, we must place a high value on addressing relational stress and misunderstanding...with the thoughtful and prayerful desire to experience the discovery of truth and the offer of forgiveness and the prospect of reconciliation.  Friends, this is often where relational beauty that honours God and nourishes the souls of others is protected and enhanced...or not.                Jesus viewed relational health amongst his own as a high priority.  And he expected people to ‘keep short accounts’ amongst each other.  Listen to his thought provoking words:  Matthew 5:23-24   Jesus is teaching us how to navigate church family relationships that are strained or broken.                Now, back to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4: 25-28.
    • Traffic in truth...Speak the truth to each other, face to face...not behind the person’s back.
    When we are experiencing relational stress...and that is inevitable, let’s choose to do the humble and courageous thing and engage face to face, trafficking as accurately and honestly as we can about the truth of the matter at hand.  Gather the facts as carefully as possible and as promptly as possible. Let us listen to each other with teachable minds and humble hearts...rejecting accusation, and second and third party comments/opinions etc.                  Why such a big deal?  “We are all members of one body.”  We are intimately connected and when there is a lack of truth listening and truth seeking and truth telling people get hurt.  You know that to be true, don’t you?                 And this needs to be face to face as much as possible.  Not through back and forth emails/texting.  So much is lost when face to face is avoided.
    • Express emotions, especially anger honestly, constructively and promptly. Vs. 26
    When we are hurt or disappointed by one another, emotions are felt, including anger.  There is no shame to that response.  “In your anger do not sin.”  Seek to be truthful in specifics about why you feel the way you do.  And, for God’s sake and the sake of the church family, face the facts as honestly, accurately, and constructively as possible.  Friends, when we put off addressing relational stresses and strains, everyone in the know is negatively affected...and the toxic effects of procrastination begin to be felt as relational closeness and warmth slowly wanes and fades.  ‘Don’t procrastinate and don’t give the devil a foothold to divide the family. Deal with issues humbly, courageously and constructively.  Bag the excuses, especially the one that say you don’t like confrontation.  No mature person does; but following the lead of Jesus, we do what needs to be done.  Proverbs 27:5-6
    • Live generously today; not selfishly. Vs. 28.
    1. Build others up: with your words, forgiveness, kindness and example of maturity. Vss.29-32
    Who of us doesn’t yearn to be a ‘part’ of a healthy church family, not only for us, but our children, grandchildren and those spiritually seeking.  Then, it is on each of us to do our part to navigate wisely, trusting the One who knows the way forward and who guides us in specifics.
    • Speak only words that build others up in ways suited to their needs...not your preferences.
    Seriously, are we ready to not only trust the One...Jesus, who knows the way forward, but actually obey him on this point?  No trash talk, or ‘garbage words’ that stain, hurt or crush.  None of that.                Can you imagine if each of us took this verse to heart and acted on it more consistently and promptly?   -      Be an example of ongoing maturity; ethically, emotionally and relationally.  Get rid of attitudes and actions that simply are a disgrace to Jesus and hurtful to others.  No more justifying or excusing evidences of immaturity.  Confess to Christ, seek to understand what is behind the immaturity and move forward.
    • Be forgiving and kind to one another...as Jesus has been to you and me and us. Forgiveness.
    Illustrate:  refuse to judge and write off; offer mercy and an opportunity for a fresh start, yes, sometimes with consequences that need to be acknowledged, yet with the assurance of a future with hope.                  All of this navigating and relating...with God’s strong and wise Spirit.  Vs. 30 May we be quick, in specifics to come clean with God and each other, so that the Spirit’s work is furthered in and amongst us, today.  As we do, the yearning of Jesus will be increasingly fulfilled:  John 13:34-35.                As we relate to each other in thoughtful love, people looking on are moved to consider the offer of Jesus to be Saviour, liberator and provider in their lives, in large part because of how we navigate church family relationships, beginning again, today.                Which realm do you need to pay attention to and act upon more consistently?
    • Remember who...and whose you are: 4:17-24
    • Keep Short Accounts Relationally: 4:25-28
    • Build Others Up: 4:29-32
    Who ‘cheers you on’ in maturing as a wise and loving person?  _________________________________ Who ‘spurs you on’ when you are struggling or misbehaving?  __________________________________ ‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ Hebrews 10:24-25
  • Nov 17, 2018Navigating Church Family Relationships Wisely
    Nov 17, 2018
    Navigating Church Family Relationships Wisely
    Series: Navigate

    Family relationships...

                   When you think of yours, what emotions well up?  What memories emerge?  What stories do you long to tell, or shudder to think about?  There are fewer themes to consider that stir us as deeply as the theme of family relationships.                  Much of what we will consider has clear application to our personal families.  Yet, we want to focus on church family relationships.  Why?  Because God created church families for a sacred and practical purpose.  “There was once a community of believers who were so totally devoted to God that their life together was charged with the Spirit’s power...in that band of Christ followers, believers loved each other with a radical kind of love.  They took off their masks and shared their lives with one another...those who had more shared freely with those who had less until socioeconomic barriers melted away...they bridged gender and racial chasms and celebrated cultural differences...the local church ‘comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community.  It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused.  It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned.  It breaks the chains of addiction, frees the oppressed and offers belonging...”  Many of us have experienced these things to be true.  The hard truth is that cultivating healthy church family relationships is one of the most challenging responsibilities and wonderful privileges each Christ follower has to face up to...and then decide, day to day, ‘Will I step up to the opportunity before me, or not?’  There are fewer relational realities more satisfying and inspiring to be an active part of than that of helping cultivate healthy and nourishing church family relationships.                A relationally healthy church is cultivated by a thousand different choices every day by all sorts of people; it doesn’t come about by chance or by simply believing truth.  Far too many churches have been torn apart by self serving agendas, by a lack of humility, by a lack of truth seeking and reconciling actions.  

    The Church Family: Ephesians 3:15

                   Followers of Jesus form the family of God.  It has an eternal, global and heavenly reality and a local manifestation in and through a community like Redeemer. Our church family is precious and important for different reasons.  It provides spiritual nurture and care that engages people with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Church family provides a safe place to belong and become more fully the unique person God has created you to be...and to be part of a community that radiates faith, hope and love to each other...and to those outside the family.                Many of you have your deeply personal reasons for why you regard RBC as ‘precious and important.’  What might yours be?                And ... our church family is fragile and affected by the attitudes and actions of each one who is part of the family.  ‘Show of hands’...who has experienced first-hand church family conflict, disunity and relational and emotional pain?  Many of us have.  And no church, including RBC is immune from relational pain and fracturing.

    Why These Messages?

                    Because God yearns for us to be healthy and maturing in faith, hope and love.  Yet, that shared experience of growing maturity is dependent on each of us ‘doing our part’ to protect, cultivate and manifest spiritual, emotional and relational maturity and health.                Let me speak my heart...I see evidences of the grace of God within this church family, Sundays and between, every week, without fail.                  Our humanity insures that at any given time we are building up and cultivating a healthy church family...or we are damaging the family and sowing seeds of disunity.  Why does this happen?  We are a mix of beauty and brokenness. I am. You are. We are. Disappointments, disagreements and frustrated dreams can create tension and conflict.  No wonder Paul writes with thoughtful boldness, gentleness, passion and startling clarity what he does to a church family he loves.  He wants to jolt them into recognizing what and who is at stake.  And to resolve afresh to be and do what it takes to continue maturing as a church family that radiates (yes, I have already used that word, I know) faith, hope and love.

    Required Behaviours and Attitudes: Part One of Two!

    1. Start on Your Knees: Ephesians 4:1.  If you profess to be a Christ follower, then let’s actually follow Jesus day to day, being faithful to his call to place him and his agenda first. Matthew 16:24 Cultivate a posture of responsive obedience to Jesus.  
    2. Lead with Grace: Ephesians 4:2.  I freely admit that these behaviours are way easier to talk about than live.    Gentleness (strength under control).  Patient (with annoying people).  Bearing with one another (an appropriate acceptance of humanity without tolerating destructive ‘stuff’...more on that next week!)  We need to begin our conversations with appreciative grace, not criticism or accusation. There is no place for that in a healthy church family that seriously bears the Name of Jesus...not in my life or yours.
    Can we talk about gentleness for a moment? We live in rough, harsh and hard world where people are broken and bruised constantly, by attitudes, words and actions.  Gentleness seems so out of place, so out of touch. Friends, we need to reclaim purposefully gentleness of attitude, demeanour, word and action. Illustrate: Matthew 12:19-21.  Matthew 11:28-30.  Gentleness is fast becoming an endangered relational trait.  We can’t let that happen at RBC.  I am profoundly grateful for the gentle words, attitudes and looks that populate our family. We need to see more of this and less hardness, harshness and judgmentalism.  Because sometimes a lack of grace is expressed and experienced at RBC.  We can and must do better.
    1. Contribute to Protecting and Cultivating Unity of Christ’s Spirit: Ephesians 4:3-6.  We aren’t to ‘mess’ with God’s family. 
    2. Respect with Appreciation, Diversity within the Church Family: Ephesians 4:7-12
    All sorts of different spiritual gifts, personalities, life stories etc.  We are to treasure this reality and cheer people on!  There is no place for demanding conformity to our preferences or expectations.  Not cool.  At all.
    1. Remember God’s Intention...Maturity, becoming like Jesus: Ephesians 4:13-16
    We need each other, the wide spectrum of gifts, personalities, skills and stories...don’t forget the stories.  Or the love.  Vs.16.  Love is a very big deal.   So, let’s recap. And as we do, what behaviour or attitude do you need to pay more attention to?
    1. Start on your knees.
    2. Lead with grace.
    3. Contribute to protecting unity.
    4. Respect diversity.
    5. Remember God’s Intent, Loving Maturity.
    Of the 5, which one stands out to you, maybe even calls your name loudly? Any questions about the Scripture passage or message?  If you are a newcomer I hope you will grasp what matters deeply to the leaders and many people here! Navigating Church Family Relationships:  taking our cues from Jesus, asking for strength and guidance along the way...we grow and radiate increasingly faith, hope and love!  These realities will capture the attention and hearts of people, drawing them to consider the source of our life together:  Jesus.
  • Nov 11, 2018Navigating Adventure
    Nov 11, 2018
    Navigating Adventure
    Series: Navigate
    Series Title:  Navigate: trusting the One who knows the way...Navigating Adventure Scripture Source:  Acts 1:8 Witness What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘witness’ or the verb ‘witnessing’?
    What does the word mean?
    “to see, to hear or know by personal experience or perception, to bear witness, to give evidence of...first hand evidence ‘martyr’ the Christian use of the Greek translation
    Illustrate:  ever had to ‘bear witness’ to a crime or accident?  You are asked to recount, in detail what/who you saw first- hand.   And then we have the directive of Jesus to his first followers. Acts 1:8 Context:  Jesus has been crucified, buried and amazingly, resurrected from the dead.  Acts 1:3 And he is sharing a lot of ‘table time’ with his disciples, letting them know with simplicity and clarity what they are to be about...and how.

    An Adventure Begins: Acts 1:8

    “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; (see Acts 2:1-11) and you will be my witnesses IN Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Context:  his followers are wondering about a different kind of kingdom and different kinds of timetables and agendas.  Jesus abruptly sets them straight with what matters most and what needs to be left with God.  Acts 1:6-7  And then Jesus ascends to heaven in a miraculous way, with insights from two men dressed in white.  Vss. 10-11.  In other words, ‘guys, what are you doing looking up into the heavens...you have an adventure to engage in, on with it!’

    Answering Questions about ‘witnessing’

    1. ‘My witnesses’...WHOSE? Jesus, the crucified and risen Savior.  We bear ‘witness’ to the person of Jesus, to his character, conduct, teachings, sacrificial death as full payment for sin, triumphant resurrection over the power of sin, Satan, and death, his ongoing presence in our lives through his Spirit and his promised return to establish a new heaven and new earth.  We bear ‘witness’ to Jesus on the basis of our personal, first-hand experience of his love, mercy and power in our lives.  I can only genuinely bear witness to Jesus if faith and obedience is core to my life.  Otherwise, I am only reciting the stories of others, not my own.
    We are called to give witness primarily of Jesus...not of religion, or a church.
    1. ‘My witnesses’...WHERE? all over, starting where we are, the geography we work, live, play and do life.  The places we travel to and visit.  Illustrate:  ‘My Geography’  Where do you do life? List the places...your address, and the places you spend time in.
    1. ‘My witnesses’...HOW? Let’s go back to Acts 1:1-2.  “All that Jesus began to do and teach...” Christ followers witness through words and behaviours of grace and truth and deeds of practical compassion.  Study his life...he went about doing good and teaching people about the grace and truth of God and invited people to experience new life in God’s kingdom.  A life lived empowered and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.  Acts 1:8.  God infuses their lives with the indwelling Spirit of Christ.  Compare Romans 8:11-15; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  I can share with others, through my life, the reality of Jesus and what he can ‘bring to their barren table.’  
    Experiencing God’s power requires genuine surrender to the authority of Jesus, keeping short accounts with God, others and myself...being ready to confess sin and make amends when necessary. Courageous and compassionate thoughts and actions are experienced as I obey the teachings of Scripture, especially the teachings of Jesus.  
    1. ‘My witnesses’...WHEN? Now. Today, in the geography we occupy.  Now, when life has its share of challenges and uncertainties.  We don’t wait for ideal, however you may define ‘ideal’; we engage in ‘real.’  Life as it is, with God helping us.  Hebrews 4:15-16.
    2. ‘My witnesses’...WHAT happens? People, one at a time investigate the faith, ask questions about Jesus and some become genuine, thoughtful followers of Jesus, one conversation, one interaction at a time.  Play ‘Strangers’ video (Skit Guys)
                   Think of you life...who did God use to point you, to stir you to consider Jesus? Your Adventure Continues...as you navigate life where you are, with God’s guidance and strength, you and I will see evidences of the supernatural power of God at work...in and through us! Adventure:  “an exciting or very unusual experience...participation in an exciting undertaking, with risk and some uncertainty included”                Let’s navigate the adventure of a life on adventure, together with God.  There’s no life like it!