Friday, October 24, 2008

For the One Trying, Not Trusting

For the One Trying, Not Trusting
Sin enslaved me many years,
And led me bound and blind;
Till at length a thousand fears
Came swarming o'er my mind.
Where, I said in deep distress,
Will these sinful pleasures end?
How shall I secure my peace,
And make the LORD my friend?

Friends and ministers said much
The gospel to enforce;
But my blindness still was such,
I chose a legal course
Much I fasted, watched and strove,
Scarce would show my face abroad,
Feared, almost, to speak or move,
A stranger still to GOD.

Thus afraid to trust his grace,
Long time did I rebel;
Till, despairing of my case,
Down at his feet I fell:
Then my stubborn heart he broke,
And subdued me to his sway;
By a simple word he spoke,
"Thy sins are done away."

Originally entitled: “The heart healed and changed by mercy.”
By William Cowper. Hymn 63 in Olney Hymns.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Over the Hill?

Last week I completed our Sunday morning sermon series on the core values of Grace Fellowship Church. It was joy to study and preach through these with Julian and you can access the messages here.

This week I am back in the Gospel of John after a long hiatus and it is like sitting down for coffee with an old friend. I was quite timid to preach John as I think it is one of the most layered and profound books in the Bible. Even though it is narrative, it almost carries a sense of the wisdom literature genre to it – for the careful reader. But initial fear, as is so often the case, was soon replaced by excitement. The only Gospel I have yet to preach through verse by verse is Matthew – and the beauty of each is that it teaches you Christ.

I recall someone coming to me early in the John series and saying, “When you announced John I was a little let down. We had already heard lengthy series on Mark and Luke. But once we got going it enflamed my love for Jesus like never before! I just cannot get enough of Christ!” My thoughts run parallel. The Christian never tires to hear of His Lord (even though the preacher might get tiresome).

So, it is finally back to some routine. I have a set text to study each week, instead of a topic like the Core Values series and that is fine with me. It has been a long and weary sprint from Labour Day to this week!

We have also begun a new evening series we call “26 Questions (You Should Be Asking).” Lots of folks have asked me for that list of questions and I am happy to share it here:

  1. How Can I Know What is True?
  2. Who Is God?
  3. How Many Gods Are There?
  4. Where Did the World Come From?
  5. Is The World Spinning Out of Control?
  6. What is prayer and What Does it Do?
  7. Are There Other Spiritual Beings?
  8. Why Are We Here?
  9. Is There Any Difference Between Men & Women?
  10. What is Sin and What Difference Does it Make?
  11. Who is Jesus?
  12. Why Did Jesus Die?
  13. Where is Jesus Now?
  14. What is the Gospel?
  15. What Does it Mean to Be Born Again?
  16. What Can I Do About My Guilt?
  17. Will My Life Ever Get Better?
  18. Can I Lose My Salvation?
  19. What Happens When I Die?
  20. Who is the Holy Spirit?
  21. What is the Church?
  22. What is Baptism?
  23. What is the Lord's Supper?
  24. Where Do I Fit in the Church?
  25. What Will Happen at the End of Time?
  26. What is the 'After-Life'?

Some of those questions might get tweaked a little as we move on, but they give you the general feel. I am really excited about this series especially as it falls on the end of our Core Values. Not only do we want to answer these questions, but we also want to show how these answers contribute to our Core Values. I think it will be a great series taught by a number of our gifted men.

I will be preaching elsewhere this week, but am happy to leave my pulpit to Tom Gee and Julian Freeman. It is a Fellowship Lunch Sunday at GFC, so after our morning meeting we eat lunch together and move right from that into a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Our whole family hates to miss that, but such the schedule dictates!

So, it appears the gallop has settled back down to a trot. We are over the hill and await a new one.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pastor, Remember the Spiritual Disciplines: Past Practice, Present Imperative - TPF - Pastor, Remember the Spiritual Disciplines: Past Practice, Present Imperative

We were delighted to sit under the ministry of Dr. Michael Haykin yesterday at the Toronto Pastors Fellowship. Michael gave a wonderful presentation on early Baptist spirituality and filled the time with numerous examples and observations of how men of old developed depth in their relationship with the Almighty. In an age that runs to labyrinths and coffee houses to "find God," it was wonderfully refreshing to hear a renowned scholar promote those time-tested spiritual disciplines like the public reading of Scripture and prayer. Some of his conclusions might even shock you.

If you follow the link you can download the entire audio from the day, including the discussion period which followed. You can also download a pdf version of the paper. What a great resource!

A huge thanks again to all those volunteers brewing coffee, setting up, handing out copies, running the registration desk and all that. You folks are awesome!