A Sermon Through A Child’s Ears

hippoLast Sunday morning, our sermon at church focused on the story of Peter joining Jesus in walking on the water. In the midst of that section, I shared a passing story about my daughters and a cartoon hippopotamus. It turns out that these two portions were heard by my five-year-old nephew, who was uninterested in attending kids’ classes and was instead sitting in the back of the auditorium with an aunt.

After service, they recounted to me a conversation they had unfolded during my lesson:

Nephew: “I don’t think uncle Jason knows what he’s talking about.”

Auntie: “Well, I’m pretty sure he probably does.”

Nephew: “No, he definitely doesn’t.”

Brief Pause

Nephew: “Hippos do not walk on water.”

Is it fair to say that I’m hoping most in the room heard the message slightly differently than that?!

Word and Spirit

A pastor born in 1935, now with two doctoral degrees, views his life work in this way. You are in here somewhere.

Our premiss is this. It seems to us that there has been a ‘silent divorce’ in the church, speaking generally, between the Word and the Spirit. When there is a divorce, some children stay with the mother, some stay with the father.

In this divorce, there are those on the ‘word’ side and those on the ‘Spirit’ side. What is the difference?

Take those of us who represent the Word. Our message is this: we must earnestly contend for the faith ‘once delivered unto the saints’ (Jude 3), we need get back to expository preaching, sound doctrine such as justification by faith, the sovereignty of God and the internal testimony of the Spirit as taught by men like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards. What is wrong with this emphasis? Nothing. It is exactly right.

Take those whose emphasis has been on the Holy Spirit. What is the message? We need to rediscover the power that was manifested in the Book of Acts, there needs to be a demonstration of signs, wonders and miracles; we need to see the gifts of the Spirit operating in the church – that the world will once again take notice of the church so that people are left without excuse. What is wrong with this emphasis? Nothing. It is exactly right.

We believe that the need of the hour is not one or the other – but both! It is our view that this simultaneous combination will result in spontaneous combustion! And then, but almost certainly only then, will the world be shaken once again by the message of the church.

This was the message I have preached over the years at Westminster Chapel in London. This is what we are endeavoring to preach in America and around the world. This is not all we preach but it is certainly one of the main things we preach alongside the need for total forgiveness and learning to be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

YOUR TURN: Where does your spiritual journey fit into this descriptions? What seems accurate about this assessment of Christianity and its message? What seems in accurate?

Leave a reply–your input betters this post!

Arrow Leadership

I have made mention in the past two years of this program, which I just completed.  During our final residential, a videographer was assigned to interview our class and create a promotional piece from the footage.

Here is what he gathered on a program that I cannot recommend strongly enough.

A Week on a Tiny Island

arrow logoOver the past two years, I have been part of the Arrow Leadership program. Briefly put, the program has involved a class of 23 people, under the age of 41, who are employed in non-profit organizations. I have nothing but the highest praise for the program–first-rate in all its work.  If you are the least bit intrigued, contact me; I would happily share more!

Barnabas-from-Above-288x288I type this post from my local airport, awaiting my flight toward Vancouver. Every six months back to September 2011, our class has gathered at the Vancouver airport, where we have been bussed and boated to beautiful Barnabas on Keats Island.  The location and hospitality leave nothing to be desired, and a powerful sense of community has been created over three separate weeks spent there together. Today marks the start of our forth and final residential.

So for good reason, I will break briefly from regular blogging. A week from now, the Canadian prairies will welcome me home, and at that point, I will meet you right back here for further Wandering & Wondering.

For today, may this Irish blessing be indicative of what God is doing in your life on this fine day:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

A Year in the Scriptures

A year ago, I got myself organized by formatting our church’s Scripture reading schedule to fit neatly in my Bible cover. Below are three photos chronicling my success (and other things) in this venture:

2012 Reading Schedule - Pic 22012 Reading Schedule - Pic 3A few observations may resonate with anyone who has ever tried to firmly establish a good habit:

1) Starting strong is admirable, but the real learning will take place miles from the gate you so eagerly burst forth from.

2) Life’s circumstances must be factored in. The birth of our third child, on May 28, and the rhythmic irregularities of summertime both had an obvious impact on my devotional habits.  “Creatures of habit” is sometimes tossed around as a derogatory term, but I view it as fact to be utilized wisely.  Craft the rhythms on which to build the habits, and you shape the creature you become. Do this wisely, but allow enough grace that you don’t despair when life’s special circumstances “interrupt”.

3) Reassessment and readjustment are key to ongoing success. Mid-November marked a conversation with my wife, in which we collectively planned how we desired to improve the scheduling patterns of our family life. The impact of those adjustments is obvious over the last six weeks of the calendar.

For any Christian – regardless of gender, age, or experience –  some form of Scripture diet is essential. I have never yet heard of a substantial spiritual life being cultivated apart from a love of Scripture.

A recent article by the Gospel Coalition offers five highly focused and practical tips toward developing one’s devotional habits.  If you have yet to settle upon a reading plan, do yourself a huge favour and choose one.  Numerous options can be found HERE or HERE.As well, you can view the Three Year Bible Reading Plan that our church uses. (We are just now entering year two of the cycle.)

If this habit is already well-established in your life, then you need little convincing to continue. If this habit is not yet established in your life, then today, this year, our gifts to you as entry points to the deeper realms of life available to all who seek God with all their hearts.

YOUR TURN: What have you discovered in your efforts to create Scripture and prayer rhythms in your life?  Any tips on what to do OR what not to do? Your input makes this post better!

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