A Difficult Christmas

On Sunday we are opening up a bit of a difficult topic. We are actually going to talk about grief. I know not a normal “Christmas” topic. But here is the truth, Christmas can be really difficult for some people. And Christmas is also about hospitality, and welcoming others.

So on Sunday I want to talk about how to welcome, include, and gather those who are hurting. A few weeks ago I talked about fully entering into the joy of Christmas. On Sunday I want to take the flip-side and look at welcoming those who are struggling. And to do this I want to watch one of my favorite movies. Well not the whole thing, but a significant portion of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

So that’s where we are going on Sunday, but before we get there, why not spend sometime thinking if there are those who are hurting who you can reach out to this Christmas. Because one of the biggest things we will learn from the movie, is the power of noticing a need.

Christmas at the Movies

So on Sunday we are opening up a new series for Advent – Christmas at the Movies Round 2! We did this last year and people really liked it so we are going for it again. I’m going to be trying to tie in all sorts of movies to help reveal the truth about Christmas.

Sometimes Christmas becomes so familiar that we forget the key things about it. So join with us as we look at some classic movies to learn some new things about joy, about Elf, about gathering together, and learning to be grateful. Hope you can join us!

Christmas Movies

Prayer and Revival

just-hands-1550395-1280x960On Sunday we are going to talk about prayer. Prayer is something that is really important and should be part of the regular fabric of our lives. Prayer is something that really releases God to work in the world and in our lives.

So on Sunday I am going to teach on prayer, but more importantly we are going to have a chance to practice prayer. We are going to have a time to actually pray for another. We are going to have a time to anoint people with oil,  because I believe that prayer can heal. Prayer can change lives. So that’s where we are going on Sunday. We are going to be looking at this passage:

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

Hope you can join us.

Humility and the Devil

anybody-listening-1563751-639x852On Sunday we are going to be exploring James 4.

James 4 has lots of wonderful things within it, and also lots of challenging things. The area I want to focus on is this verse:

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you”. (James 4:7-8)

I want to focus in on how we can draw close to God, on how we can be free from Satan – the source of accusation, fear, and separation. I want to look at how we can find life by moving closer to God.

The trouble is that to do this we need to admit that we need God. And admitting our failures is something most people struggle with, myself included. I don’t like to think that I’m broken, flawed, or in need of much. I don’t like putting myself in places where my lack of knowledge will be revealed – which is why I never go to hardware stores or near tools. But the truth is that we all have flaws, and that there is a beautiful promise of God. That if we would but humble ourselves, admit our need, move away from fear and guilt of the devil, towards God, we will find him drawing closer and closer.

And I’m not sure about you, but this is something that I want in my life.

So why not join with us on Sunday to discover how it can happen in yours.

Angry Birds, and Angry Words

On Sunday we are looking at a really well known passage in James. It’s all about the tongue and its power. This is something we all know, but so often we don’t actually do anything about. We know that our words can give life, or steal life. We all know that once something is said it’s impossible to get back. We all have moments where we wished we had said less.

So James is really not relaying anything new. But just because something isn’t new, doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Because I believe in our day and age, with instant communication, public comments on Twitter or Facebook – learning to control our tongues might just be the biggest relational skill necessary to survive in today’s day and age.

So that’s where we are going on Sunday, but to prep, why not watch this awesome short Pixar movie called “The Birds” because we are going to jump off it on Sunday.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

tumblr_lxl5bkweaC1qhmhdfo1_500On Sunday we are looking at the most well-known passage of James. The passage where James says “faith without works is dead”.

And we are going to wander into this world and statement of James and explore some of the tension with what he is teaching. And there is a tension because Paul says this in Romans, “So we are made right with God through faith and not by works”.

There is this tension that we want to explore theologically, but then also practically with our lives. So with that why not read all of James 2, to hear his arguments, and thoughts before Sunday. Let his words rattle around a little bit, because the beauty of James is that as he rattles around – he will shake things up. And that’s what we need.

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

The Book that Almost Wasn’t

Book of JamesOn Sunday we are launching a new series looking at the book of James.

I would just say this, that this is a book that is really neglected. People say it’s not “theological” enough, not like some of Paul’s writings. Others say it’s too disjointed with little bits of wisdom and challenge sprinkled everywhere. I say though that it’s needed.

James is punchy, straightforward, and challenging. James is theological because he refuses to let us share our beliefs, but instead calls out our actions. James is unashamedly Jesus orientated reiterating teaching of Jesus, most often found in Matthew. James is someone our society needs because we are infatuated with beliefs, ideas, theories, and debates. James wants us to care for the poor. James wants us to control our tongues. James wants us to pray.

While we are busy debating, James was busy doing – and we need this reminder. So come Sunday that’s what we are doing, launching into this important, neglected, and almost forgotten book. Hope you can join us.

The Secret from Colossians

the-secret-1313741There was a book that came out a while ago called, “The Secret”. I’ve never read it but many people have. But interestingly enough the Bible too has a “secret”. A secret not in the “keep it quiet” kind of secret but in the special kind of secret. Secrets can be fragile, life-changing things. And this is the kind of secret that the Bible gets to – a kind that can change your life and that’s a promise for a deeper life.

And on Sunday we are going to look at this secret. The secret that Paul shares in Colossians 1 about who you are, and who lives in you.

But I don’t want to give it all away too soon, so why not go and read Colossians 1. It’s worth it – trust me. Because there is a secret there that will change your life, more than any book. A secret Paul comes right out and shares. Because good secrets, really good on
es, are worth sharing.

Old Hymns Are My Favourites, Like Really Old Ones

shape-notes-music-1310183On Sunday we are going to look at one of my favourite passages in the Bible.

Here is a little known fact about me, I love hymns – but they have to be like really old. Like…1900 years and older…

Two of my favourite passages that many scholars think are hymns are the Christ hymn in Philippians 2, and the hymn of the Christ of the Cosmos in Colossians 1. And on Sunday I want to open up the passage in Colossians 1. I want to talk about Jane Fonda, refrigerator hums, and how you are connected to everything that exists.

I know it sounds a little odd, but it’s all in that passage – well maybe not Jane Fonda.

But before we get there this is a passage that many people speed past, or honestly just aren’t familiar with. It has huge major themes of creation, redemption, and how the world exists. It’s mind-blowing in its implications, and all-encompassing in its scope.

So why not take a moment and read it a few times and just let this passage speak to you. Because Christ is part of every thing, and you right now as the passage says. So why not open yourself up to discovering and hearing from him as you listen and read this old hymn.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rose from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Serving Kills Selfishness

coffee-1150357On Sunday we are looking at how we as Christians are called to serve. One of the marks of a Christian must be that they are serving consistently, intentionally, and with purpose. A Christian’s life who doesn’t change others, isn’t truly a Christian life.

So last week I shared with our church how we need to serve. This week I want to pursue that a bit deeper. And I want to do that through, of course, talking about the Bachelor. That’s right this Sunday is Bachelor Sunday…which is something I’ve never said before and will probably never say again.

But one thing that I think this show demonstrates to us is how easily it can become to get wrapped up in self-interest. Self-interest is something that kills relationships and it is killing our culture. A culture obsessed with self has no room for anyone else. And this is what we as Christians need to be fighting against, and the only way we can do that is to serve.

Serving kills selfishness and that is something that needs to happen.

So before we get to Sunday and looking at this all the more in-depth ask yourself this question: “are you serving anywhere consistently?” Because life has a way of making ourselves the priority, but that is not the Jesus way. So in your own life are you serving? Because if we want to love the world – we need to serve the world.