Tag Archive: Faith & Works


Too often we get so wrapped up in our own importance we forget that we are not the solution. My knowledge, my strength, my culture, or my will power is not enough for myself let alone anyone else. “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Luke 2:16-17) Christ lived among the sick, he walked beside them, reaching out to them at their level. We can learn a lot from his approach and how he loved his neighbors.

Too often we in the church think we are the solution and forget that Christ is the solution. He is the reason why we do the things we do. We serve not because it earns merit or favor but because he served us first when we didn’t deserve it, when we were sick. We serve not to be cured but because we are cured. God has been reminding me of this over and over again the last few months, from the video above, a buddies sermon, friends, my kids, and through the people I have the privilege of serving at work. Christ came, died, was resurrected, and will return, not for the righteous but for those who are sick. Stop trying to be the cure and start offering the one true cure.

around the hospital Nov 3

Will you offer the one real cure to those around you who are sick?

20130621-233712.jpg

Lions’ Park Okotoks after the Sheep River peaked.

Southern Alberta is under water! 100 000 Calgarians displaced, High River is completely evacuated, and Canmore is being washed off the mountain! At work we are participating in a one year program with Alberta Health Services called In Roads which looks at addiction. This week we looked at resiliency which seems timely as Alberta has become, as in all disasters, a case study of this. The way people pull together is amazing and fascinating to watch. Two people who can’t stand each other now stand side by side to protect and save others. In this dark and broken world there are glimpses of light.

Prayer

In times like this people tend to post prayers for the disaster to stop or that prayer is a useless waste of time. Prayer is more than a petition for what we want, and it is more than something meaningless. Yes, we must pray for the miracle that the brokenness will cease, for the darkness to end, and that people will remain safe. Know that God can do those things and on the day of his return it will be once and for all, but also following Christ’s example we are to pray for strength and courage to get through. Pray that despite the horror of the situation the Father’s will may shine through.

.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
 Matthew 6:9-10
 
20130621-233802.jpg

St. Peter’s Anglican Church Okotoks

Reality Check

The more we try to control our environment the more we fight to keep it under control. The Tower of Babel comes to mind and the reality that no matter what we build we are not the creator of all things. We are mere caretakers of this world and are not able to set the rules. We build walls yet are unable to stop the forces at work in our world. We are utterly dependent on God. I am reminded of the dependency on His provision that I felt living overseas. No matter where is the world we are, what we have, or how strong we are our efforts are not enough. The Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in High River yet the flow of the river can not be stopped or controlled.

Next Steps

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:15-19 ESV

For those not affected by the flood we must rise to lend a hand. In this time of human suffering we must unite together and support our fellow man, despite race, culture, or creed. We must not forget that once the flood waters recede and return to their former paths that there is still work to be done. Lives have been changed on every level, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual. We must support one another because that is the way God has designed us, together with His strength and work we can triumph over the darkness. We must show love!

As the sun sets on this day my prayer is that tomorrow may bring a new found peace, a new found joy, and a new understanding. May our lives be transformed by the creator of the universe, the redeemer of man.

20130621-233603.jpg

The Sheep River at sunset

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.
Psalms 69:1-3, 14-16, 29-36 ESV

The 12 hour drive home went smoothly and the only casualties were 2 of the Barbie’s, one lost an arm and the other her head. The drive inspired me to quote lyrics from a song for my last vacation quotes and pics posts. Also, here are a few pics I took just outside Gleichen, I love Alberta!

I can be there for you when it can’t get much harder
I can cover your head when life starts to rain
I can hold on tight when you feel like you’re falling
I can bread crumb the path when you’ve lost your way
I can make you laugh when the whole world is crying
I can build you up when you’re broken in shame
But if all that we do is absent of Jesus, then this so called love is completely in vain…

Mercy Me This So Called Love from the album The Generous Mr.Lovewell

 
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Matthew 9:36-38

Matt Chandler’s book The Explicit Gospel is out and is currently half price at ChristianBooks.com. Needless to say my copy should arrive sometime next week, I’m a little excited! As part of the book tour Chandler stopped at Mars Hill in Seattle and gave a fantastic presentation about what the Gospel is and is not (Check it out below or on the Resurgence website – 58 minutes that will change your life). Guess what? It is not about you doing better.

 
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshlybody through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

Colossians 1.13-23

One point Chandler looks at is the fact that we are all hypocrites. This is not just a Christian issue, but an issue with all mankind, we never walk what we talk 100% of the time. That is the beauty of the Gospel, thankfully we are not saved by our own actions. We can’t be saved by our works (Romans 3.23)! If we were to make followers of ourselves this would be a problem, but we are to be followers of Christ who did walk the talk all the way to dying for you and me. He conquered death, He conquered sin, He sets the example. Christ is the head and the church is the body (Colossians 1.18) . The body may be a little deformed, but it is the head holds us all together. The church is not perfect but Christ came to heal the sick.

My heart is a work in progress!

Why do we go to church? Is it simple for the experience or to do the right thing? Christ said that the greatest commandment is to“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22.37-40). Do we care about our comfort and success or do we care about souls that have not heard the Gospel? Check out the below video by David Platt or better yet read his book Radical.

Are you willing to live a death-defying life?

 

You are probably thinking that I am a couple of weeks behind? However, I have a reason for being intentional about remembering the resurrection today. Two weeks tends to be the point where the what ever stirred in us on Easter will fade into the distance, but if we forget there is no real point to Easter or Christmas.

Will you forget what the Christ did for all on that day 2000 years ago?

Something that has really been hitting me since Easter is that Christ was not that meek and mild caricature we like to paint Jesus as. The “I Am”  statements Jesus makes, the “you have heard it… but I say…” statements, forgiving people’s sins, these are all direct attacks on the established order of the way things were traditionally passed down from the time of Moses and the burning bush.

Christ did not just throw in the towel and give up his spirit out from being overpowered or pacifistic. As the pure spotless lamb Jesus chose to give up his spirit to pay the price for my sin. He rose from the dead crushing Satan’s hold on the world. Restoring my relationship with the Father and tearing down the veil between us. It was costly, it was messy, and it was bloody! Everyday is Easter Sunday and everyday the glory goes to his mighty saving work so that none shall be lost. My soul finds comfort and joy in that even when the things of this world are against me.

Don’t Forget What Christ Did For You!


How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

 

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3.17-18

We have a need within our current system, Alberta is the richest province in Canada yet we show no pity to those who have needs. 73 000 children live in poverty within my province. This brings it a lot closer to home than news broadcasts or NGO commercials about some 3rd world country. We must let our actions show love for those beside us.

 

 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1.27

 

Quick Facts off the Action to End Poverty in Alberta website

Alberta is one of three provinces without a poverty reduction strategy

Alberta could spend less on poverty if the government had a strategy. By less, we mean billions.
How much exactly, you wonder?
It costs between $7.1billion-$9.5 billion every year to perpetuate poverty in Alberta.
With a strategy in place, Alberta could lift 148,000 families and 73,000 children out of poverty.

An economic case for a poverty strategy

This report offers solutions and analyzes how effective our strategies have been thus far:

  • Are we basing our efforts on ideology or proven strategies?
  • Are we using a balanced combination of poverty alleviation and poverty prevention approaches?
  • Are we succumbing to the myth that poverty is primarily about individual choices rather than the systems we create in our societies?
  • What is our track record

Read the report to find out. Download full report (PDF, 3MB)?

What quality defined the early church? What separated them from other beliefs and the mainstream culture of their time? What stood out to those looking in? The book of Acts shows us how they lived.

 
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Acts 4.32-36

What defined them was not their ethics or higher morals. What separated them apart from the rest of the culture was their willingness to share everything they had. “No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Their chariots broke down, they lost their jobs, husbands ran off with younger women, and leaders did not always us their authority to honor God. The Epistles show us that the visible church was still tainted by sin but God clear used them and poured His loved out upon them which flowed out to those the touched.  Taking care of the widows and feeding the hungry, praying for the sick and forming a body of believers was clearly evident within the early church.

For the most part there seems to be a disconnect in the church today. Our culture values independence and self-reliance. “God helps those who help themselves” has taken over the “I can’t but You can” thinking. Christ is not the head so we can do our own thing. My eyes rely on my brain. My brain relies on my heart and lungs. My heart is useless without blood. The church is not the church when we act alone. Self-reliance is anything but a wise way to live. Instead of asking what do I need I should be asking what does my brother need. Is it encouragement? Is it a bill payment? Is it a van?

God has put me on the receiving end of brothers and sisters who say Lee needs something I have. Christians give what they have to provide for someone else’s need. God does not see this as a one way street either. In turn I must ask what do I have that will provide for someone else so that “God’s grace [will be] powerfully at work in [us] all that there [are] no needy persons among [us]”.

One experience I was blessed to be apart of was when I lived in China. The English teachers at our school put our money together and were able to buy supplies and toys for a school for poorer children with disabilities. The school would not have been able to provide these things on their own. We were also able to share the story of Christ with the kids and staff and we spent the morning playing with them. My oldest was three at the time and she was the first one to give out the presents. What joy she had to share with others and help provide for their needs.

How can I help my brothers and sisters today?

I wrote this over this last week and was going to give it the once over before posting it today. Ironically in church today Pastor Terry talked about this same idea which you can listen/watch on the church website.

Christmas is on its way. Check out this video and consider how you spend the holiday.

A friend’s blog about her 30 day journey to minimize life has helped inspire me, in particular a recent post called Live Simply. About a year and a half ago I read a couple books that started to open my eyes to the useless nature of just sending money as a means of solving issues, specifically foreign aid. Ironically this happened just as I was hired by one of the largest NGO’s serving the poor in a local setting. As I wandered through the year I found myself in the possession of another book Radical by David Platt. All these things, mixed with a fantastic book by Michael Horton (check out his radio show) called We believe, have shoved me off the cliff of interpretation into the world of action.

As Carl Marx said “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” We must step past the point of looking and criticizing and step up to looking and doing. When I look out I see a fallen world, sinful and alone. Christ stepped down into that fallen world and gave us a hope. “Living He loved me, dying He saved me, And buried He carried my sins far away, Rising He justified freely forever, One day He’s coming…” (Glorious Day). Now that we looked how do we change the world? In one chapter of David Platt’s book he talks about a missions trip he was raising funds for. Everyone he talked to was very excited about the trip except for one lady who asked why they were wasting all this money by going themselves instead of sending money where it could be used in a way that got more value out of it. This question shook him up and made him question the very purpose of that trip. Near the end of the trip a local man was sitting talking with David when he thanked him for coming. The man told him that he knew Christ loved him because he sent that group in person and not just money like so many different organizations before. To know that a person is thinking about you and is inspired to reach out in the name of Christ is a powerful expression of how deeply God the Father loves us.

Amor Min. Truck overlooking Tijuana

I have personally wrestled with the money vs. action issue but when you meet someone who says “I had no hope and because you came I have a future”. Is that not what Christ did for us? Christ came to us! A mighty king left his throne so he could give a hopeless world a future! He became our priest and bore the penalty of our sin! He declared a coming age when His Kingdom would be restored! At all times preach the Gospel. Why? Because the Gospel proclaims truth and truth brings hope, a hope in that which restores what has been lost.  “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”

What will you do this week to change the world?

%d bloggers like this: