Scarred Floors & Saving Scarred Hearts

scarred-blogSo, the other day I had a very long and stressful day at work. It was also a day where our kids were…well…kids, which means they were difficult that day. I get home and Krista is stressed, I’m stressed, I have about 45 minutes between being home and needing to leave again. And, we are just trying to talk together, and kids are yelling and it felt a little bit like mayhem in the house.

That’s when I noticed Asher hammering our new hardwood floor with a hammer.

And, while I wish I could tell you that my initial response was loving, kind and patient, instead I said, “Go to your room!!”

I went and looked at all the scratches, the damage and the scarred floors, and that didn’t help me calm down. So, I went to go up to his room to “discuss” this with him. And by “discuss,” I mean “ensure he gets how bad of a decision this was.” And, just before I walk in his door, God literally stopped me with a thought.

I don’t know if you believe that God can speak to you, but I do. And, what I heard in my spirit was clearly from Him because it certainly wasn’t coming from me. He said, “What matters more to you? Scarred floors or a scarred heart?”

And, that one question really changed everything. Because sometimes in the middle of stressful moments, we forget what really matters. And, what really matters isn’t my floors, but my relationship with my son. And, in that moment, walking into the room, my floors were already damaged, but my relationship with Asher wasn’t. And, if I walked in angry, and trying to make sure that my three-year-old “really gets” what he did, I could scar his little heart.

So, I walked in and Asher was under the covers. So, I crawled into bed with him, and he instantly gave me a big hug and said, “I so sorry daddy – it an accident.”

If God hadn’t spoken, I probably would have tried to convince him that it wasn’t an accident because he had done it purposely. But because I was more concerned with scarring his little heart than a scarred floor, I just hugged him and said, “I know, I love you.” And, we just laid there for a long time and he actually fell asleep.

I share all this because God changed my priorities in that moment, which changed my behaviour. The truth is this, people matter most always. Relationships are more important than floors. My connection with Asher is going to outlast our floors anyway, but if I prioritize the floors over him, I can end up with a scarred relationship, not just a few dents in the floor.

So, the question this raises for me is just this: Are there any areas of your life where you’re prioritizing things more than people? Where you care more about stuff than relationships? Or where floors matter more than little hearts? Because when God asked me that question, it changed things. And, most importantly, it changed my behaviour and how I interacted with my son who means the most to me.

“Jesus Will Be Found in the Most Unlikely Places”

14316911_10157360901840328_6835481472652758312_nThe other day, I was reading Matthew 25 where Jesus says He will be found in the most unlikely places; places we often don’t look or expect to find Him. He says that he will be found in the poor, the naked, the vulnerable, the oppressed and the lonely. And then I read this passage from Jean Vanier in his book From Brokenness to Community,

“Those with whom Jesus identifies himself are regarded by society as misfits. And yet, Jesus is that person who is hungry; Jesus is that woman who is confused and naked. Wouldn’t it be extraordinary if we all discovered that? The face of the world would be changed. We would then no longer want to compete in going up the ladder to meet God in the light, in the sun and in beauty, to be honored because of our theological knowledge. Or if we did want knowledge, it would be because we believe that our knowledge and theology are important only so long as they are used to serve and honor the poor.”

There’s a lot that I would like to comment on and pursue in relation to this quote and the passage in Matthew 25. But, what I think both Vanier, and more importantly Jesus, are trying to do is to move us from thinking about these words to putting them into practice; that the face of the world would be changed if we moved from competing to rise up the social ladder to focusing in on serving and honouring those around us.

And how this practically works its way out in your life and mine is challenging. It might look different in yours and in mine. But I think the next step for all of us is the same and it’s just this – For us to take time and ask God’s Spirit what we should do? How should we serve and honour those around us? To ask Him to give us eyes to see others as God does. Because when we start seeing people with God’s eyes, it changes everything, because it changes how we see everyone and everything.

“Dad’s Just Preaching I Can Interrupt Him”

13179199_10156831166310328_6941693770211141572_nSo on Sunday our amazing Family Pastor Gen Epp, was teaching my oldest son Hudson in Sunday School. He’s 6 and thinks he’s 16. And at one point he yelled out, “Gen stop the class…I have to go tell my dad something right now.” Gen, because she is wise, and has kids, shared with Hudson, “Right now probably isn’t the best time, if you can wait five minutes, because your dad is preaching in front of everyone right now.” Hudson’s response was this, “That’s okay he won’t mind if I interrupt him, he’ll talk with me.”

And while if I’m honest, I would totally mind if he interrupted me when I was preaching to ask me about Lego (which is what he wanted to discuss). But his response did get me to thinking – Hudson feels I’m accessible to him. And while he might think I’m a little too accessible, I think that this is a good thing, and here is why.

What Hudson showed on Sunday was that he feels he is more important to me than my job. And this is incredibly important because Hudson is more important to me than my job.

The point is that sometimes our everyday actions demonstrate the opposite to those who love us. We check emails during family supper, we field work phone calls out on a date, or rather than being present with our kids are thinking about our to-do lists etc. The point is while many of us would agree family matters more than work, it isn’t shown or communicated.

So while clearly Hudson talking to me about Lego when I’m preaching, is not helpful. What I am happy about is: that in his little heart he feels and knows that he matters most to me. And that got me excited.

So today why not prove that to the people you love the most. Why not show them that they a matter deeply to you. Maybe you’ll just put away your phone, send some flowers, give them some attention ~ but what Hudson taught me on Sunday is showing your family that they matter is a habit that matters.

A Story of Jesus that many struggle with…

sadness-of-jesus-1442440On Sunday we are opening up a passage of Scripture that most people have never heard a sermon on. The reason is…well how do you put this nicely…but Jesus seems either like a jerk or a racist or both.

Either way, most evangelical pastors avoid it, because they aren’t sure what to do with it. Liberal Christians see it as an example of the humanity of Jesus, and how he is “convicted and converted to being world-centric”.

But I think buried in this story is something so revolutionary, so incendiary, so transformative that it’s something that everyone needs to experience. Because this story will bring up the depths within us that we, as nice Canadians, keep buried. It’ll bring up the stuff that the Holy Spirit wants to change within us. And as I’ve prepared I’ve felt the Holy Spirit do that within me.

So that’s my prayer for Sunday – that the Holy Spirit might change all of us. But to begin why not read the passage and ask God to begin the process of changing you because we all need that:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Mathew 15:21-28

Theology 101: Christology, a Jesusy God, and Holy Humanity

gods-wrath(2)On Sunday we began with a cartoon. And with me there is a chance that its either Calvin and Hobbes, or The Farside (which I spent more hours reading in high school than…well probably any other book).

And Gary Larson has this great cartoon that looks like this. And here was my question for Sunday – how do we know God isn’t like this? Why is this funny? Why do we laugh – knowing its not like God has a smite button? How do we know that?

Because for many years, many people had this view of God. That if you step out of line, smiting, cursing, or punishment is on its way. If you’re crops failed, its because of that sin. If you get sick, its punishment and God smiting you. So how do you know that God isn’t like this?

Well the quick and easy, and true answer is this, because Jesus isn’t.

Jesus perfectly reveals God. Jesus is entrance into understanding God. God is Jesusy. The Bible makes it clear in multiple places that God is Jesusy (Hebrews 1; John 1:18; and others). And here is why this matters because:

If you’re God doesn’t look like Jesus, you have the wrong picture of God.

And there isn’t any other way around this. Gary Larson’s wrong, God isn’t like that, because Jesus isn’t like that.

And yes this surely brings up tensions, there are difficult parts to reconcile then in the Bible. But the point is this: we cannot compromise on the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, no matter what else we do. We will need to use care in exegeting some of the Hebrew Bible in light of Jesus, but we cannot compromise the revelation of God in Jesus.

With this understanding that Jesus reveals God, we got to know Jesu a bit better. We began by looking at the divinity of Jesus.

The divinity of Jesus was actually something that was debated for a while in early Christianity. Yet there are some clear indications that Jesus is fully God, as we attest and believe, in Scripture. We looked at the sinlessness of Jesus, we looked at how he forgave sins (something only God can do), and how he accepts worship. But by far the biggest thing that testifies to his divinity, is how he was resurrected from the dead by God. God through resurrecting his son, validates all his claims about whom he is (Rom 1:14).

We then looked at the humanity of Jesus. Now this is something that was clear to the early Christians, but that we struggle more with today. We like to think of Jesus as Superman. That he dresses up in humanity, like Clark Kent, but pulls out his superpowers to do miracles and so on. But this isn’t the picture the gospels paint – Jesus was fully  human and Jesus is fully human.

Michael Bird writes this, “The fact the that the Logos was able to take on human form suggest that divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive modes of being…The incarnation is not simply God assuming human form, as if human flesh were a mask over his real nature. Rather, the incarnation is God as a human being and complexly sharing in human properties. The incarnation shows us what God intended humanity to be and what it finally will be” (Evangelical Systematic Theology)

So with that we came to our main point for Sunday. And it was this:

            That Christ is the Key

Jesus is the key for everything. He is the key for understanding God. He is also the key for understanding humanity and what it means to be human. Jesus is the key to everything. If you want to know God, if you want to know yourself – look to Jesus. So that was our challenge for Sunday – go home and read the gospels. Because the more you get to know him the clearer God becomes, and how to live life becomes clearer too.



Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Christ is the key

Teaching Points:

  • The foundation of our faith is Jesus Christ, first and foremost.
  • Jesus perfectly reveals God.
  • The lens we interpret the Bible through is Jesus.
  • We can’t give up on the centre of our faith and compromise that Jesus reveals God
  • Reasons for Divinity of Christ: Miracles, Forgives Sin, Sinless, Accepts Worship, and Was Resurrected.
  • Jesus was and is human.
  • Incarnation when Jesus enters the world isn’t for a moment, but for eternity.
  • Christ is the Key
  • If you want to be certain about God, get close to Jesus.
  • Read the gospels
  • Our comfort does not lie in the fact that we have pure doctrine or pure revelation. Our comfort does not lie in intellectual or spiritual certainty. Our comfort does not lie in the belief that we have grasped Jesus. Our comfort and only hope is that He has grasped us, called us, named us and chosen us, all of us, and that He alone is our hope. Michael Hardin

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Have you ever thought of God as Jesusy? Is there anything in your picture of God, that isn’t “Jesusy”? How does having Jesus as the perfect revelation, give clarity to who God is? Which do you find easier to believe in: the humanity or divinity of Jesus? Why is that? Which of the gospels are you going to read?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Ask your kids what God is like. Ask them what other people think God is like. Then share with them the most important thing – what Jesus says God is like! Have them think about how Jesus reveals God. Ask them, what is Jesus like? And then tell them that’s what God is like.

Challenge for the Week: Read the gospels.

The Language of Hebrews

On Sunday we are starting a brand new series on the book of Hebrews. This is probably one of the most neglected books of the New Testament because a lot of its context is far from ours. We don’t know what to quite do with the language of blood, goats, sacrifice, and covenant. But we hope to change some of that through this series: that we might learn the language of Hebrews and through that grow deeper with God.

Language of Hebrews

Death, Power, and Breaking its Power

1431625_22976773Here is something we know deep down, but don’t know that we know it.

Whoever controls death, controls our lives.

What I mean by this is that whoever holds the power of life and death in their hands, has power. This is true in so many ways. It’s true in our health, relationships, governments, and most of all faith.

Death has the ability to end things, which is why it has power. Therefore, whoever controls death has power.

Think of it this way, the state controls the power of death, so it has judicial power and weight. If we do something wrong the state can end our lives (either through imprisonment, or through capital punishment). The point is that since they control those outcomes, they have power, leverage, and strength.

The same thing can be said to happen in medicine. That since doctors can help save us from death (i.e. control death) they have power. We will follow their advice, and make changes as necessary. They have power that flows from their knowledge of life and death.

And these examples are not bad things; they are just real life things. We need government, and we need health care. My point is a larger underlying one. That whoever controls death, in some manner or fashion has power (either positively with health care, or negatively with the state).

This is even true in a small way in relationships. Often the person who cares the least in a relationship has the most power, because they can and might threaten to end the relationship (i.e. the power of death).

I know for many this post might be a bit difficult to follow or apply, but this deeply matters for our faith. If it is true that controlling death and life brings power, then we can understand why Jesus had to die.

Jesus had to die to conquer death. Jesus had to die to wrest power from death. Jesus had to die to conquer death, so that we might live.

This is what the Bible is getting at when it says that Jesus gives us victory over sin and death (1 Cor 15:57), that God will swallow up death for all time (Isaiah 25:8), that death is the last enemy to be defeated (1 Cor. 15:26), and render the devil powerless by taking away the power of death (Heb 2:14).

The point is that death no longer has any power, because Jesus has stripped death bare, shown him to be empty, and has taken away his power. Death still happens, but it doesn’t need to control or drive us because we know death doesn’t win. Death isn’t the end, and we don’t guess at this – we know this because Jesus has shown it. Jesus rose again, proving death is no longer something to be feared because death doesn’t last.

So when death says – “I will end your” life, future, friendship, whatever it maybe, we no longer need to live in fear, or in its control. We can live free because of Jesus Christ because death lost, and it no longer has the full power to end things, because Jesus can resurrect things.

My main idea is this: that whoever controls death has power, and that Jesus now controls death because he beat it and conquered it. And that’s good news.

The Waiting isn’t Wasted ~ Plan, Pray, and Prepare

On Sunday we talked about chasing after God’s vision for our lives. We shared that a meaningful life, is a life lived in God’s way. That meaning comes through the life that God has for us.

So we tackled how do you start to live this way? That if God gives you a passion, a vision, or a burden to make a difference – how do you start to follow it?

Well, the odd answer found in Nehemiah is to wait.

Nehemiah is given an amazing vision from God and then does something unique. He waits before moving on it (Neh. 2:1). But what we discovered is that in the waiting time he wasn’t idle, he wasn’t passive and he wasn’t simply reluctant to get going. He was praying, he was planning, and he was preparing for the right moment to step out.

The temptation is to rush forward, or to give up on the vision God has given us in the waiting time. Nehemiah though, doesn’t rush forward or give up, instead he prays, plans and prepares. Nehemiah believes that while he is waiting, God is orchestrating things. Nehemiah knows the timing needs to not be“right”, but God’s timing, before he moves forward. So he waits for God to open the door and then courageously walks through it.

Andy Stanley writes, “A vision rarely requires immediate action. It always requires patience”

So my challenge was this: if you are in the waiting time, are you using it well? Are you planning, preparing and praying? Because God’s path for you to make a difference won’t open until you’re ready. So trust that God is orchestrating things, but also prepare and pray.

Because the message of the gospel is that nothing in our lives is wasted. Even the waiting time isn’t wasted, and God wants to use it to ready you to make a difference…

Welcome to Leadership…

Being a leader is a calling. And it is a deep calling. It’s not always easy. But oftentimes the most difficult of paths, are the most worthwhile. But here is the interesting thing about leadership…we’re all leaders.

Yes we are all leaders to some extent. Leadership is influence over others, so the point isn’t whether or not you have it, but how you are using it. My guess is that you have influence with someone in your life whether that be a child, spouse, co-worker, or a friend. So the big question then isn’t if you are a leader but are you leading well?

I bet if you look back on your life some of the biggest leaders in your life we’re regular everyday people who shaped you. They were your parents, your coach, a teacher, a friend, a boss, and maybe even a pastor. So the question I really want to pursue and dive into is, how do we become the type of leaders that leave lasting influence?

That’s really what I want to look at on Monday night here at the church. We are going to be a having a night focusing on building and developing our influence and leadership. Since I believe leadership is something we all do, it’s open to everyone: business people, homemakers, retirees, students, and regular every-bodies. So it’s open to you. Just let me know if you’re interested in coming.  It starts at 7.

And then this week as your interacting with friends, family, and neighbors ask yourself: what kind of legacy am I leaving? What kind of influence and impact?

My guess is…is that if you ask that question you’re on the right path…

Mother’s Day = No Preaching for Andrew

I love to preach. I really enjoy it. I think about it plan it out and try to do my best.

But this week I get a break. Because this week another Mills’ is preaching for Mother’s Day ~ my wife Krista.

So this week I got to see her try to put together a sermon, a teaching, or a talk. I got to see her struggle a bit and realize that it isn’t easy to do each and every week. The best part was when she was struggling to find a verse and asked me. I immediatley answered and told her the chapter and verse. She was initally shocked and then said “oh right of course you’d know – you read the Bible for a living.” Not quite true but a funny comment nevertheless.

The reason I’m looking forward to Sunday so much is because I get to see my wife speak. But even more than that the Bible is clear that God is speaking to each of us. God is teaching each of us, and a part of all of our lives. So the real reason I’m excited for Sunday is to learn. I’m excited to see what being a mother has taught Krista about God, because I want to grow through her expereince. That’s what being a part of a community is about growing not only together but through each other as well. So on Sunday we’ll be growing togehter through my wife’s teaching on teh God who is a part of all our lives.

And so if you come on Sunday please be sure to do one thing for me. Please smile lots because Krista’s a bit nervous…but she doesn’t have need to be. Speaking’s part of our family…