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Jason Silver

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Thoughts and Reflections on Scripture

2017

January February March April May June July August September October November December

December

Friday, December 29th, 2017
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When one reads some of the more “negative” Psalms; the more vengeful, anti-other-nations Psalms, it's pretty common to question why they're even included in the scriptures. They don't seem to reflect the love for one's enemies like God directs us to do.

But my wife, Joanne, pointed out something insightful this morning. She said, as humans, these are common emotions - we'd love to put people in their place, to seek vengeance ourselves for the wrongs against us.

Oh, to give that person a “piece of my mind!” But what we ought to do, is to tell God - and that's why these Psalms are so important.

It's comforting to know that David, and others in history have struggled through the difficult things like we have. It's also comforting to know that God welcomes or cries to him, and is there to protect and defend us, even vindicate us.

I can think of a lot of people who have sought to destroy my reputation, to damage my influence, to ruin my efficacy. I'm sure you can think of a few too. Does it comfort you to know that God is in your corner, that he understands?

Friday, December 22nd, 2017
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This Psalm reads like a personal testimony- (a story to describe one's own struggles and faith).

In this instance, the Psalmist is tempted to be jealous, since the ungodly seem to get whatever they want, they have strong bodies, they have lots of followers, and seem to be able to deceive others without any consequence. They don't have any cares, and their wealth just keeps growing.

As he continues to consider the state of his mind, he feels bad for even thinking these things. How can he think this way, when he's responsible for others- is he being false to the children he teaches?

So he goes to the temple, and there he realizes that the wicked are on slippery ground. They're like a bad dream, they will face an ultimate destruction some day. They are not getting away with it all.

Now the Psalmist recalls how he felt so bitter toward God, ignorant, self-centered, like an animal without sense. But he knows that even in that state, God was still honourable to him.

He ends with praising God, since he has so much to be thankful for!

This is a beautiful Psalm, and I'm sure we can all relate. Life often seems unfair, and evil people do seem to get away with their behaviour for a little while. But serving God last forever.

Amen!

Thursday, December 14th, 2017
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This is one of those Psalms that varies quite a bit from one translation to the next. For example, it seems to be addressing “you gods” in the first verse, and some translations make it “Lords,” or “Rulers.” I chose the latter, since that seemed to be the general consensus among the translations.

Another phrase, “untimely birth” is perplexing, but I chose to use what I read in one translation: stillborn.

All that to say, this is a rather unusual Psalm. Singing about bathing in the blood of the wicked, and singing about snails and slime, about the pots in the fire of thorns-- well, just a little on the awkward side of things.

Perhaps this is why Psalm 58 seems to be avoided in the lectionary - I did a search through the Revised Common Lectionary and the Lutheran Service Book lectionary, and at least in those, it was nowhere to be found.

But what can we take from this scripture? Surely it's been included in the Bible canon and part of Israel's and Christianity's worship for thousands of years for a reason?

The main point of this Psalm, in my opinion, is summarized in the last line: people will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous, surely there's a God who judges on earth.”

This is a valid point, because it is difficult to see the merit of living righteously. People who live sinfully often seem to have everything they want. Whether it be power, fame, or wealth, these are the rewards for cut-throat behaviour. But what do those who live a life of gentle love and holiness get?

No “pat answers” allowed here, no trite response; it's a valid question.

It's easy for me, since I'm an idealist: I just believe it's intrinsically better, because I want it to be. I try to live a life of gentle love and righteousness because it's beautiful to do so.

Friday, December 8th, 2017
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Giving thanks is such an important aspect of living life, we all know it intuitively, I think; and yet somehow struggle with doing it.

Just a quick Google search for “giving thanks” will show that you don't have to be religious to recognize the importance of living under a sense of gratefulness. It has a mental benefit which you can read all about on various medical websites!

We all have much to be grateful for: if not our health, our families, or a warm place to sleep, we can at least thank God for life itself! We can thank God for the air we breathe, the water which satisfies our thirst, the warm sun on our faces, or a cool breeze on our neck.

Life is full of beauty, and we can be thankful for the way we feel when we see a child playing, or watch the sunrise.

Please leave a comment about something YOU are thankful for.

Friday, December 1st, 2017
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From a Christian mindset- from the perspective of “turning the other cheek,” and avoiding violence, scripture that refers to wars, victory, fortifications, armies, and foes can seem out of place. Jesus went as a lamb to the slaughter, and most Christians that I know are not warmongers, but are instead longing for a time of peace.

So how do we read these scriptures, and find blessing and truth in them?

It's not as hard as you might think- we can all relate to calling on God for help in many situations, and feeling like he's just not there, that he's not listening, and that he doesn't come to our aid. The scripture reminds us that the real battle is not against “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

It's a different way of looking at the struggles we face, even the conflicts we have with other people. Bringing the God of peace into our battles changes /not just the situation/ but changes us too.

November

Friday, November 24th, 2017
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For many people, the word, “awesome” has lost it's impact; I tend to throw it around to describe a good “grilled-cheese sandwich,” or a funny joke: “That's awesome,” I say with a chuckle!

But awe shouldn't be so cheap, right? To be left breathless in wonder-- that's what the word really means. It's use is better suited to the feeling we have when confronted with the expanse of the cosmos or the majesty of mighty mountains!

We should also feel this way about the power, beauty, love, justice, and grace of God Almighty. He INDEED is awesome.

Friday, November 17th, 2017
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Ah, complaining. We all do it, even Psalmists who lived thousands of years ago. But don't start feeling too smug yet in your grumbling. These are complaints of a different kind.

We have a saying around our family and friends: “These are first world problems.” We remind each other of this when we're tempted to complain about the mundane discomforts we face from time to time.

But this Psalmist is complaining about secret plots of wicked people, the scheming of evildoers, who think they can get away with undermining and destroying other people. They lay traps and snares and shoot arrows to kill.

The good news is that God hears our complaints, and cares about our suffering. Lift your heart to him, that he will hear your prayer.

Amen

Friday, November 10th, 2017
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Do you come from a family of believers? Maybe you have a grandmother who has faithfully prayed for you for years, or maybe you've been blessed to have been part of a church since you were a child?

I have grown up in the church, and have heard the stories of how God has mightily made himself known to my people. Close calls from car accidents, maybe, or a healing from cancer- a prayer for a child to be born safely, or the saving of a marriage-- these are just a few of many types of prayers one hears.

But in this Psalm, the writer cries out to God; he says, “I've heard how you've done great deeds, back in the old days... my grandparents have told me the way you saved them, but, what about me?”

The Psalmist continues by saying, “I know the way you brought us this country, how it was through your strength, and not my ancestors strength that these battles were won. But what about now? What about today, and our battles?”

That's so real. That's so honest! For most of us, all we've got to go on are the stories we've heard, but it can seem like God isn't listening to our need.

Like this poet, we tell God, “Yes! You are my God, I trust only in you. Yet it seems like you're just not here. You've rejected me, you've let the enemies win.”

That's just one aspect of what makes the Psalms such a great place to go when we are lonely, afraid, and feel like God isn't even listening.

Lord, rise up! Come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

Amen.

Friday, November 3rd, 2017
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Do you need God's mercy? That's an easy answer for me, of course!

But many people would say they are basically good. They haven't stopped to consider the ways they have broken God's law, the ten commandments, and so they might not realize how separated they are from him.

The ten commandments don't just cover the big sin of murder. If we've ever told a lie, or looked at another person lustfully, or taken something that wasn't ours, or used God's name in vain, then we're guilty of breaking God's law. The Bible says that such behaviour has a wage: death.

Let's face it, we're all guilty, but that's not the end of the story! There is hope! God has made it possible for us to be at peace with him! He's paid the fine!

All that is required is for us to humbly accept this payment, so that we may go free! Mercy is available to those who ask God.

Imagine being at peace with God! Imagine a Father who provides for all your needs, who watches your path, who guides you through dark places! When we accept his mercy, we will call out to him and “exalt him over all the earth.”

Amen.

October

Friday, October 27th, 2017
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Are you ever afraid?

Who isn't, right? Fear can wear lots of different masks, whether it's jealousy, worry, obsessive compulsive behaviour, social anxiety, and many other negative emotions.

At their root is that old enemy, fear, and we all face it.

But God is so completely deserving of our trust. Just try to imagine a being entirely full of perfect love! Such a being would be entirely trustworthy and safe, right? God.

We can all identify with this Psalmist, talking about enemies trampling over him, people fighting with him. He complains of evil thoughts against him, people trying to take him out, to betray him and hurt him!

But God keeps his “tears in a bottle,” knowing ever cry, tracking it all, and vindicating and saving him from destruction!

Do not despair, God is FOR us! There is no reason to be afraid.

Amen.

Friday, October 20th, 2017
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From everlasting! That's such a long time.

Recently I've been confronted with the reality of death again... an acquaintance has passed away recently, a young person full of life and vitality and beauty, newly married, and yet overtaken by the monster we call cancer.

Whenever this kind of thing happens, I reflect on how short life really is. Whether you live 100 years or 1 year, in the span of eternity, in light of the millions of years humans have been here, in light of the eons before that this this earth spun in space, our lives are insignificant moments in time.

And yet, none of this changes the reality that God is God. God is “our dwelling place,” our reality. We die, we fall to dust, others take our place, and as this Psalm says, God continues to be God!

In the middle of this Psalm, right after celebrating God's eternal nature, the writer asks God to release his people from torment and affliction, in compassion to satisfy us with his love so we can rejoice!

Can you identify? Do you ever feel insignificant? Are you despairing from the situation you find yourself in? Take heart. God is God! He will always be God, in his love, mercy, faithfulness, and truth.

Friday, October 13th, 2017
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This is one of the most melancholy and depressive Psalms in the Bible, and unlike so many others, it doesn't even even with a positive, “Well at least you're God, and you'll save me” conclusion.

Perhaps this melody is a strange fit too, because it has an upbeat feel to it-- for some reason it just seemed right, and I think without that, it would be nearly unbearable in its sorrow and lament.

But I know we've all been there, and we can all relate. Life is hard just as often as it's not.

Friday, October 6th, 2017
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The last few months have been a challenge for me personally, and for many of us who attend a church in our village. Through a series of unfortunate events, and what amounts to essentially poor communication, we've been without a place to worship since September.

Those of you who have followed my channel for some time will know that a group of us have been trying to build a congregation from new believers and disillusioned former-churchgoers. We started “The Crossing” service about 6 years ago.

We embraced the liturgy, and the liturgical calendar of weekly scripture readings, but we used modern music and encouraged emotional engagement and expression.

There has been something really beautiful about the way God has worked among us.

Six years ago, we joined a local congregation, meeting in their church on Saturday nights. On the surface it may appear that we have lots in common: we're in the same building, we are using Anglican liturgy, and are led by an Anglican priest (when we have one- another story). We've helped raise lots of money to pay for the bills and expenses of such an old stone building. However, below the surface we worship in very different ways, and we seem to have a different understanding of what it means to live by faith than some of the people in the other group.

There have been a few people who have been very antagonistic toward us, and to me specifically. They've accused me (behind my back, of course) of being in it for personal self-interest, and they've been calling it “The Jason Silver Show.” I've heard people are saying that I have no education or experience (certainly not true) and silly things like “I sell miracles and hugs online!” It's funny, kind of, but there is a real destructive force behind this movement to undermine the work of God.

I haven't wanted to talk about it much until now, because I don't want to get in the way of possible reconciliation. We are in the process of that restoration now, and I have hope for it to be much better when we come back.

Please pray for us, that we will exude love, grace, and tender compassion to all involved!

September

Friday, September 8th, 2017
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I think one desire we all share - one longing most humans strive for, is to be known truly and deeply.

Oftentimes we may fear it because such intimacy can be threatening. We get good at hiding our true selves from other people, and even from ourselves. It's scary to be seen plainly and purely, to have our best shielding and strongest defence mechanisms rendered ineffective, and yet we all secretly want it.

God loves us, knows us fully, and protects us! What freedom to be ourselves!

Friday, September 1st, 2017
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Psalm 38 stands out from many of the others by the tone of penitence that really goes from the beginning through to the end. David is full of grief and complaint, crying of his sins and afflictions which he feels contribute to his sickness and pain. He speaks of friends who abandon him, and enemies who torment him.
He even feels the displeasure of God on his life, and yet cries out to god about all of the offences against him.

But in David's beautiful way, he doesn't end there- he remembers to praise God in the end, and confesses his sins in humility and even joy.

When we sing along with this psalm, we ought to be strongly affected with the terribleness of sin; and, even if we are not in the depths of despair as David is, we can agree that our heart is dark, and the future is unclear. In that instance, we must sing of them by way of preparation. We can also realize that some of our friends and acquaintances may be in this place, and therefore we should sing along by way of sympathy.

August

Friday, August 25th, 2017
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Our life is a moment in eternity, a wisp of wind, a flash in the pan, here today, gone tomorrow, a breath...

Friday, August 18th, 2017
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This is an interesting Psalm - it was referred to by the author of Hebrews when he spoke of Jesus being a high priest like Melchizedek.

This is a prophetic song by David, referring to his own reign, but obviously also the reign of Jesus Christ, the great King of kings.

This excerpt explains a bit about Melchizedek:

Who was the mysterious Melchizedek mentioned only a few times in the Bible. Surprisingly, his name is more of a title than a personal reference. It comes from two Hebrew words, melek and tsedeq. The word melek means ‘king’ and tsedeq means ‘righteousness,’ ... Note that this priest in the book of Genesis, chapter 14, was the king of SALEM. The word Salem means ‘peace.’ This makes Melchizedek the “King of Peace” (also seen in Hebrews 7:2).

The first scripture referring to this priest is in the book of Genesis chapter 14, near the middle of the chapter: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand'” (Genesis 14:14, 16 - 18, NKJV throughout).

The second reference to this priest of God is in the book of Psalms: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool . . . ‘ The Lord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’ “ (Psalm 110:1 - 4).


Isn't that amazing?

Friday, August 11th, 2017
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It can be a real challenge to wait on the Lord patiently, especially in the face of wicked, evil people. It can appear that those wrongdoers always come out on top.

Sometimes it seems like it doesn't pay to be good! When the evil prosper and the good suffer, we may be tempted to doubt the goodness of God. You might even be tempted to say “Forget it!” and join the evildoers.

Those people may drive the nicest cars and own the most toys, but they are like grass that is green one day, but faded and dry the next.

Isn't it better to choose love and peace, kindness and patience, and self-control? It might not be very glamorous, but is has it's own beauty because it's the right thing to do, and because God has asked us to reflect his nature, not the nature of the evil one.

It's essentially an exercise in submission: submitting to God's will for you, even when it seems crazy.

You can be like David. Put on trust, put on obedience, put on patience, put on humility. Be delighted in the Lord!

Monday, August 7th, 2017
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If you've read any novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, you'll recall that his stories are full of mountain passages, secret gates, prophecy which foretell the coming of a great king. Just like this psalm, his stories include ancient doors and watching gates!

I think of Psalm 24 almost like it's a Lord of the Rings book. Verse 1 begins by describing this world and its inhabitants, the seas, the rivers, the mountains of God. Verse 4 tells us that only those with a pure heart and clean hands can ascend this great mountain (I think of Frodo here!), and when they do they will see the face of God, the God of our ancestor Jacob!

I love the part about the gates though! It's like magical gates that have heads, and can look up to watch for the coming King of glory! Ancient doors, which will open up only for the king!

May this Psalm be a blessing to your worship.

Friday, August 4th, 2017
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One of the wonderful things about scripture is that it's written by honest people, who aren't afraid to tell us what they're really feeling and thinking.

So often among the religious, people feel the need to pretend that everything is okay, to pretend that they don't feel anger at god, or lonely, or disenchanted. They pretend, and so actually isolate themselves from everyone else.

This Psalm is another attributed to David, and he wrote it after he had ran from Saul (the first time), and after he had faked insanity in front of Abimelech.

Needless to say, this was not a high time in his life.

Take courage from scripture. Join with David and others in your despair and find some light to rejoice in your soul, for God is good!

July

Friday, July 28th, 2017
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I don't know, it just seemed like the words to this Psalm were supposed to be blues... all that talk about a ploughman ploughing furrows on my back, and the repetition in the first verse... had to do it.

It's fun, and I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, July 14th, 2017
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This is the Psalm that David wrote as a young man when he was victorious over his enemies, including Saul. But it was also the same Psalm he sang to God on his death bed (as described in 1 Samuel 31 and 2 Samuel 1).

It's one of the longest Psalms and so turned out to be a pretty long song, too. I hope you can make it all the way through!

I think it's pretty awesome if we can, like David, look back at the end of our life and affirm the praise of our youth. God's faithfulness is a surety.

I wrote a song as a young man, which I come back to often. I'll upload it here someday! It's called, “You've Been so Faithful."

June

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
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This is a quick little song I wrote today; it was more of a whim than an inspiration, a challenge to write a song on a specific topic of finding release and healing. It's short and sweet, I think it goes well with this video I took while in the boat with my dad and family last summer.

Friday, June 16th, 2017
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This psalm talks about the futility of worshipping idols - gods who, though they may have eyes, and ears, and feet, cannot see or hear or walk.

We may not live in an era where people worship statues, but we worship other things - mostly money and fame.

I think fame is of particular note in the current era. Prestige especially seems to be something we're all hungering for.

Did you know that science has shown a direct correlation between how much time a person spends on social media, and how depressed they feel? I think it stirs up feelings of jealousy and discontent. What is posting, essentially, than a type of bragging? “This is how great I look, this is how beautiful a family I have, this is the fantastic vacation I get to be on! Don't you love my life?”

It's nothing that social media has caused, rather, Facebook has highlighted an underlying tendency of us all - it's human nature to look for meaning and fulfillment in things which can never satisfy.

Friday, June 9th, 2017
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"Hear O Israel” is part of the traditional and history of both ancient Israel and Christianity.

First, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 it says:
“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.”

Later, when Jesus was teaching his followers, someone asked him what the most important commandment in the scriptures was. His answer is written in Mark 12:29-31. He says:
“”˜The most important one,” answered Jesus, ”˜is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.”

We sing this often in our service, right after the sermon, as a way of reminding ourselves of this most critical teaching. There is only one God, and he deserves our everything, and we should love others the same way we love ourselves.

I pray this is a blessing to you, and ask you to consider supporting my ministry at Patreon.com/JasonSilver

Friday, June 2nd, 2017
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This is a fun Psalm - every other line repeats the same thing: For His steadfast love endures forever.

The Psalmist recounts all the evidence and examples of God being faithful (steadfast) and loving... caring for his people, saving them from Egypt, from the armies of Pharaoh.

I took the liberty of not always repeating the steadfast love line; otherwise it might get a tad bit repetitive. I think it worked out pretty good as it is.

If you're interested in using these songs in your church, please go ahead. I even have the song charts / music available on my site JasonSilver.com, and you may download them all for free if you're a subscriber at Patreon.com/JasonSilver

God bless!

May

Friday, May 26th, 2017
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I met a new friend a few weeks ago on YouTube, who posted the lyrics to this song on one of my videos. When he did, I was intrigued: it was beautiful poetry, it used Jesus’ “real” name, there was no author attributed, and I couldn't find it on the web.

Yeshua Cry
Yeshua...
You are the Son of God with all power and might.
The Word made flesh to manifest God's love and light.
Drawing near the far...
Bright Morning Star...
Yeshua
Because of You we'll make it through the night.
Your healing hands have restored man through many plight.
I'm no exception Lord...
We need you more and more...
Yeshua
You are the way, the truth and the life
You are the Man God's perfect lamb you paid the price.
On Calvary...
Where you died for me...
Yeshua... Jesus
Drawing near the far...
Bright Morning Star...
I'm no exception Lord...
We need You more and more...
On Calvary...
You died for Us...
Yeshua... Jesus

So I asked the fellow who posted, and he said he wrote it! I knew it had to be made into a song, but I wasn't sure how he would take that suggestion. However, I needn't worry. He was also curious about how it might sound.

This new friend's name is Samuel Brewer. In fact, he recently decided to help me in my project at Patreon, God bless him!!

I've done him a wee bit of a disservice in that the lyrics are not exactly the same as the original, which is unfortunate. The words were very nice just as they were. However, I found it hard to put them all into the melody, so hopefully this will suffice.

Saturday, May 6th, 2017
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The Lord is My Shepherd

Life is often described as a journey. It's a rich metaphor, we can all relate to, because who doesn't love a road trip? One never knows what lies around the next bend!

The experience of an expedition can serve to symbolize many different trials and triumphs one faces along the way.

Each of us begin our expedition as tiny toddlers on the "pathway of life." Each of us face our own dangers and delights, come upon monsters and mentors. We walk with others for a time, sometimes we walk alone, only to finally hang our cloak on that final hook.

Many great stories have been told, which highlight something important about life through the metaphor of a trip. For example, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Odyssey, James Joyce’s Ulysses, more recently The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Even movies like 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?', 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles', 'Little Miss Sunshine', and 'Thelma & Louise', use travel to describe life.

One of my favourite examples comes from today's Psalm. In the 23rd Psalm, we read about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We learn how our Lord makes us rest in the green pastures we encounter. He leads us beside quiet waters. His direction on our trek is down the right paths, for his name's sake.

No story is worth telling without conflict, resolution, climax - and just as first Peter chapter two said, in today's reading, we will endure pain, we will experience suffering, and it will be unjust. The fact of the matter is, we have all wandered, we have all strayed; but we have now returned to the shepherd, which Peter describes as the guardian of our souls! We are not alone!

As he leads us, his people, we come to learn to recognize his voice. Do you know how to recognize the voice of God within your soul? That still, soft, quiet sound leading you to love, to share, to do what is right in the face of wrong? We, the sheep, follow our shepherd because we know the sound of his voice. We should not feel comfortable when the strange voice of the thief comes among us. We should not become familiar with that voice.

Jesus told us he was the gate through which the sheep go in and go out and find pasture. And though the thief will try to steal and kill and destroy, Jesus wants to lead us to fullness and abundance of life!

I'd like us to soak in that metaphor this evening. We're journeying together, on a quest to love others just as Christ loved us. But unlike so many of the ancient and modern tellings of the life-journey, in our story we are not alone. We have a good shepherd who directs us, protects us, connects us, perfects us, and someday resurrects us!

Amen


Tags:sermons
Friday, May 5th, 2017
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I wrote this in Saskatchewan, back in January of 2016; I decided to record it more professionally this week.

Thursday, May 4th, 2017
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I remember the first time I head an “Enya” song, I was smitten. The ethereal, otherworldly sound of thick keyboards, big drums, percussive piano, layered vocals-- it was like candy to my ears!

This is a beautiful, poetic Psalm... something about this journey metaphor, with paths and walking through the valley of death. There are many great versions to this song, and I am pleased I can add my version to that long list.

April

Thursday, April 27th, 2017
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It surely is good to give thanks to God! Not only is God worthy of our thanks, our praise, our declaration of his faithfulness, but when we do, we participate in the grand orchestra- we become an instrument, joining with creation, executing our true purpose to worship him!

So praise him! Join with the rocks, hills, and trees to sing out your thanksgiving!

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

So Send I You

We've been meeting together in this old stone church as the Crossing service since February of 2013. In those four years we've had ups and downs, lots of people, and then not so many people.

In fact, tonight reminds me a little bit of how it must have felt for those disciples of Jesus, who huddled together in fear after he was crucified. They'd seen lots of people following Jesus, and now, after his death, not so many people.

They were probably wondering when the authorities would come looking for them. Doors locked, curtains drawn, low light, desperate whispers.

Each of them were probably struggling with their own demons as well. What they did or what they wish they'd done, the words they said in denial, and maybe even more importantly, the words they didn't say. We are all guilty of playing the "what if" game. What if they hadn't come to Jerusalem? What if they'd stayed awake with him while he prayed? What if they'd payed more attention to the comings and goings of Jesus' betrayer, Judas?

But the darkest cloud, the most ominous disappointment, oppressively hanging over them was this: Christ was dead. The messiah, the promised one, murdered in hatred; his ministry, his miracles were not enough enough to save him. They'd left fishing boats, and mother and father, and lucrative tax collecting enterprises to follow this guy, certain that somehow this would become a revolution.

What did the last three years mean, anyway? Was it all wasted time? Could anything be salvaged? Dare they continue teaching as Jesus taught? Did they even still believe? Were they prepared to give up their lives in just the same way?

I think we still have those questions. Look at us, the few committed, desperate, and maybe slightly disappointed disciples who come week after week, huddled together to pray and sing, trying to work up a memory, a passion, a hope for the future. We're the few, the called out ones, and sometimes we don't have enough energy to go on.

And hope is so hard to come by. Do you have hope?

I don't think the disciples had much at that point… just like us, they changed the trajectory of their lives to follow a brilliant, unusual, countercultural, individual… they came to believe that he was the very son of God, and that they had an important part to play in bringing about his Kingdom on earth. How could there be a kingdom now, without a king?

But then something crazy happened. They couldn't have been ready for it, they were still obsessing in their fear. But into that moment of doubt and dismay, suddenly and without any great flash of light or clap of thunder, they were in the presence of the One. And almost as if he'd never left, he greets them in the common greeting: "Shalom." Peace be with you. It's a bit as if he said "hey" to them.

And without even stopping to draw a breath, he continues: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

"How's it goin? Do what I said."

A wake up call. A wake up call for those people, and a wake up call to us. It makes you stop to think, "what you said? what did you say? You're sending me somewhere? Wait, what?"

Yes. I'm sending you out into the world. Out of this hiding place, out of this dark room. Open your windows, unlock your door. Connect, teach, model, heal, hold, bless, pray for, love.

Jesus is sending us out into the world as well. Out into Sydenham. Let's get out of this building, open our windows, unlock our door. Let's also connect, teach, model, hold, bless, pray for, and love.

Picture in your mind where your mission lies. Imagine the faces of the people you're called to care for. Who are you to love? Who are you to be "Jesus" for?

It's probably not who you think. If we do it like him, we love like him.

He loved the unlovable, touched the untouchable, drank with the outcasts, partied with the sinners, laughed with the poor and he provoked the rich.

So send I you.

Amen.


Tags:sermons
Thursday, April 13th, 2017
Related Song

It feels appropriate, especially after a long 40 days of lent, to have a celebrational Psalm like this one! Easter is upon us!

I recorded this one live a few months ago, just me and the guitar, as an effort to save time one week. It can get tricky taking a whole day (Thursdays right now) to record a song, mix and master it, make a video, get it uploaded, create a cover, etc. etc. Sometimes I just take the “live recording” approach.

Monday, April 10th, 2017

I Met Elton John Last Night

OK, it was a dream, sorry for the let down... but it made me feel really good.

This is the background:

I heard yesterday that a church I was pastor at for nearly a decade, is having a 125 year anniversary celebration, and they didn’t invite me. It was a really difficult exit from that place, but still, I was surprised that they took that approach.

So I went to bed feeling kind of down.

I was the kind of kid that was beat up after school, even by girls. I remember being chased home a few times, or hiding under my desk until the school buses had all pulled away. There’s something odd about me, I guess.

I didn’t have many friends through elementary school, and had to dodge snowballs walking home from high school too. I think there was a perpetual “kick-me” sign on my back.

All of the churches I’ve worked for I feel like I’ve been abused, taken for granted, and in a couple of instances, unfairly dismissed.

So the dream I had with Sir Elton John was really encouraging. I don’t want to get into all the details, but suffice to say I listened to him play for a while, then he listened to me play some of his songs (to which I kept forgetting the words, loll!) It was a time of encouragement that seemed to come from God himself

I remember kind of waking up and thinking about it, and while my eyes were shut, I was having this trippy experience of lights flashing, and swirling behind my eyelids. It was beautiful, even kind of heavenly. I take it to be an affirmation from my creator to just keep going and not to worry about it all too much.


Tags:dreams
Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Peace

If you were standing on the street, waving a palm-branch in the air as Jesus made his procession past you, what would you be looking for? What would you be cheering about?

Remember, you don't get the benefit of hindsight, so you've got to put yourself in their shoes. Pretend you don't know about Jesus' coming death on the cross for our sins. Imagine you've been dealing with those invading Roman armies, their high taxes, their blatant disregard for the traditions of your ancestors.

Those ancient people were looking for salvation, just as we do today.

It's true that they were looking to be saved from the occupation of the Romans, yes, but essentially they wanted to see God's kingdom established on this earth, just as we do. And yet we commonly shake our heads in dismay, saying that their limited view of a messiah was purely political. We say they missed the whole point of the messiah.

You know me, I like to turn things upside-down a bit, so bear with me: I wonder, could we miss the point too?

What are we looking for in salvation? We enthusiastically cheer him into our midst, hoping to see our problems solved, and the nuisances of life, abolished. Everybody hurts and we all have struggles. Each of us needs strength to survive the stresses of life, and Jesus offers hope to bear that pain. But do we stop there?

I saw an interview on YouTube recently where someone went around the streets of Jerusalem asking Israelis why they think Jesus is not the messiah. It was fascinating to hear their replies. Jesus couldn't be the messiah, many said, because there still isn't peace on earth.

Peace on earth.

On Palm Sunday, we remember Jesus entry into Jerusalem, where the people threw down palm branches on the road in front of him. It has come to be known as the Triumphal Entry, and that term actually originates in Rome! Successful generals, after returning from battle with Roman forces, would make a procession through the city to the adulation of crowds.

But with Jesus, instead of riding through town on a war horse, or mounted in a chariot, he is seated upon a lowly donkey. Instead of returning from a time of war, he is precipitating a time for peace.

We cheer him into our life so that that pain from our childhood doesn't hold the same sway over us, or we cry hosanna out to him so that we can be freed from our addictions and our torments. Each of these requests are legitimate, and Jesus wants to take our pains upon himself. But the purpose of our suffering, the purpose of his suffering, is a world of peace.

It looks to me like peace isn't that important to many Christians. In fact, Christians often seem to be the loudest advocates for war.

It's sad, because so many of Jesus' teachings are about peace. For example, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And, "if someone strikes you on the cheek, turn the other to him as well. If someone asks for your cloak, give them your shirt too. If someone forces you to walk a mile with them, walk two."

He also said things like, "he who is without sin cast the first stone" and "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

See what I mean? We should seek peace in every facet of our life so that it will spill over into those around us. We need to be at peace with our lot in life, with our pain, with our losses, with our envy. We need to live at peace with people we don't like, people who drive us crazy, people who we wish would go away.

Then, just imagine the triumphal entry in a new way! Jesus ushering in a world of peace that will change our planet forever!

Amen.


Tags:sermons
Thursday, April 6th, 2017
Related Song

Here's a song in an unusual metre, that thanks God for being our helper and our saviour!

The Psalmist, (David in this instance it seems), asks God to save him, to vindicate him, to hear his prayer... one of those Psalms that's perfect for retreating to when one feels down or discouraged. God is there to help us, to uphold us, to pay retribution to those who would harm us!

March

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
Related Song

Life on this mudball; this round-rock hurling through space at mind-blowing speeds; can seem pointless at times. We are specs in the vastness of space, like tiny mites, we live our lives, grow, love, reproduce, and die.
We strive to know the creator, to imagine what power there could be that at a word would speak everything into existence. It's beyond comprehension. And yet the idea is so simple that it has become a mockery to many.

I find the simplicity of this Psalm so beautiful. The blessings of God are reassuringly practical. To eat by the produce of the work of my hands, to enjoy a loving wife, to watch my beautiful children-- what more could one ask for?

Let's fear God (a holy respect), and walk in his ways.

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Related Song

The words in this one are a bit wacky at times, but I've tried to make the best of it!

Sometimes I've found songs based on Psalms that just cut out the parts that don't “fit with our theology” or that are uncomfortable for us to hear, nevermind sing! Even the various lectionaries I come across will often politely omit parts of a chapter that don't align well.

But that seems wrong to me, somehow.

In any case, what can we take from this? We can see that the love between God and his people is strong and faithful. We can agree with the Psalmist and participate in the kind of adoration he's describing, singing, making melody, awaking with the dawn to praise God with our instruments!

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

40 Days and 40 Nights

Tomorrow is known as the first Sunday of Lent, so that would make our service tonight the first Saturday of Lent.

The word ‘Lent is shortened from Lenten, an old dutch word for Spring. Throughout this period of Lent the historical Christian tradition is to fast, joining with Jesus in his fast of 40 days and 40 nights in the desert.

If you actually count the days, from Ash Wednesday through to Easter Sunday, you’ll find that there are 46 days, not 40, and different Christian traditions deal with this in different ways, either by starting and ending the fasting period later or earlier, or by not counting Sundays in that period.

That’s our Anglican approach- we may elect to fast the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, excluding Sundays.

As I considered what to speak about this weekend, I felt drawn to this whole notion of 40 days; what is the significance of that number anyway? If you’ve read much of the Bible, you’ll notice that “40 days and 40 nights” crops up many times throughout the Old Testament. In fact, one source I read said that it occurs 159 times! Another source counted 146 times- so a lot.

For example,

For the great flood, God caused it to rain 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:12).
During Moses' life he lived forty years in Egypt and forty years in the desert before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery.
Exodus says Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18).
Deuteronomy says Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf for 40 days and 40 nights (Deuteronomy 9:18, 25)
In Deuteronomy, it specifies the maximum number of lashes a man could receive for a crime, to 40 (Deuteronomy 25:3).
The Israelite spies took 40 days to spy out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:25).
The children of Israel were punished by wandering the wilderness for 40 years before a new generation was allowed to possess the promised land. (Deuteronomy 8:2-5).
Israel served the Philistines for 40 years before God delivered them through Samson (Judges 13:1).
Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days before David arrived to slay him (1 Samuel 17:16).
When Elijah fled from Jezebel, he travelled 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8).
And Elijah went 40 days without food or water at Mount Horeb.
The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah's sins (Ezekiel 4:6).
The book of Ezekiel says Egypt was to be laid desolate for 40 years (Ezekiel 29:11-12).
The prophet Jonah gave the people of Nineveh forty days to repent before God would destroy them
As we read today, Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.
There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension into heaven (Acts 1:3).

You may have noticed that in all of the examples I read, this number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation. Whether it’s the flood, wandering in the desert, slavery, lashes, waiting for repentance, or temptation from sin, it seems like 40 is a number that represents these judgments.

So what does this mean for us?

Well, if we look at the forty days and forty nights of Lent as being representative of any of those scripture stories I quickly outlined, then we have to acknowledge a connection to judgment. We’re going through a trial with Noah, with Moses, with the people of Israel, with Samson, with Elijah, with David, with Ezekiel, with Jonah, with Jesus -- we’re putting ourselves under that same judgment. We are admitting to our shortcomings, we are accepting the truth about ourselves-- that we are fallen, sinful, selfish creatures in need of salvation.

In my personal opinion, it’s not enough to just coast throughout this period of Lent. Make it personal - truly participate in the judgment against you by sacrificing something. Make it difficult. Give up coffee if you’ll get headaches. Let it hurt.

Each day of pain is a crescendo towards the moment of salvation at Easter. As we fast from whatever it is we choose to give up, we may use the pang of this hunger as a reminder of the judgment on us before Christ.

It can motivate us to see our true position before God. It can help us find the connection to hope in our salvation, for Easter is coming!


Tags:sermons
Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Upwardly Mobile

I’m 48 years old. I feel settled. I like living in Sydenham, except for the winters. It’s good to be around people I grew up with, to have my family all within shouting distance, to worship with them week by week. At times I’ve considered whether I should return to the ministry vocation but one thing that has held me back is the thought of pulling up roots and moving again.

So with that in mind, I’m pretty impressed that Abram was 75 years old - 27 years older than me -- when he heard God’s voice, packed up his stuff, and left everything.

For what reason did he move? He heard God’s voice. Genesis 2:15-17 says,

Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Genesis 2:15-17

That’s a big move, pretty late in life, based on something you heard in your head. Right? Because when God speaks to us, it’s usually the still, small voice.

And yet his obedience to God, his response to this call, precipitates a whole shower of goodness, from the rise of Joseph in Egypt, through to the life of Jesus Christ himself, and ultimately our salvation.

So not only is that pretty amazing obedience, it had astounding impact.

Is there something God is calling you to do? What would it take for you to pull up and follow his leading?

Well, it would be nice to have the same kind of promises, wouldn’t it. To hear that God will make you a great nation, and bless you, and bless all the families of the earth because of you!

Has not God promised this already? He’s promised to bless you and not to harm you! He’s promised to care for all your needs much more than the sparrows of the sky or the lilies of the field! The scriptures are full of promises to us if we are faithful to him.

Do you know what holds me back? Fear; the endless what-if questions that cascade down upon me. So much could go wrong.

I’m sure Abraham didn’t know all of the terrible things he would have to go through. The conflict with his brother, Lot for example, and the famine he encounters when he reaches the promised land. Then there was that whole thing with the Egyptians capturing his beloved Sarah to give her to Pharaoh. Those were pretty incredible odds he faced against the four and five kings. Then there’s the king of Gerar who also tries to take Sarah for himself. Oh, and what about that whole deal with Hagar and Ishmael, and having to send this first son away.

Life is hard, and maybe if Abraham focused too much on the pitfalls, he would never have taken the step of faith.

Would you need more evidence than that still small voice that Abraham heard? What might God have in store for you and for your descendants if you were to obey his call?

Something is going to go wrong, something always goes wrong. There will be tests, challenges, hardships, but there will be blessing too!


Tags:sermons
Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Related Song

What do YOU Think? David, or God, or Who?

This Psalm reads like a promise, or a commitment to be a certain kind of person. I think it may be David's promise to be a good king. Each line has a promise to do something or not do something, for example:

I will sing,
I will study,
I will walk,
I won't look,
I will destroy,
I won't tolerate,
I will favour

Psalm 101 is one of those Psalms that at times feels a tad awkward to read, nevermind sing.

As Christians, we're used to hearing about the complexities of God's personality; he is perfect in love, and yet at times, jealous. He is both patient and impatient with us, a righteous judge, and yet full of forgiveness.

You get the idea.

In this Psalm we read about how the author will destroy the evil in the land, and other seemingly violent things... I suspect it's David promising to be a just king, after all, the Psalm is attributed to David.

What do you think? Does this Psalm have a double meaning? Do you think God is speaking to us through David here, or is there some other way we're to interpret it?

I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts!

February

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
Related Song

The rain in this image invokes the notion of blessing from God, but this Psalm calls us to bless the Lord, which I find interesting... we usually think of blessing as something God provides us - he's blessed us with health, for example, or blessed us with friends and family.

But often in the Old Testament, the word “bless” is intended to mean praise- in fact, in modern versions the word is usually translated as “praise” or “extol.”

So as you sing along with this Psalm, I invite you to bless the Lord!

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Don’t Be Perfect

One of the common themes in two of the scripture readings today, from Leviticus and from Matthew, are that we should aim to be like God. We’re to be holy and we’re to be perfect, like God himself. That’s quite a tall order, isn’t it?

Let me highlight those particular passages. You may recall that the reading from Leviticus starts out with the words, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” It then goes on to describe ways to be holy.

In the Matthew reading, it’s the other way around. After describing ways in which we should live and behave, Jesus ends his words with the very challenging sentence, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In our contemporary culture, most would say that the word holy means godly, pious, devout, righteous, good, virtuous, sinless, and pure. Those synonyms are close, but actually not quite right. Holy means something else.

Religious scholars define holiness as being set apart from the natural world for a special purpose. That which was holy was otherworldly, not part of nature, but part of the divine!

So if we’re to be holy-- if we’re to be like God-- then we as a people need to be set apart, different, not conforming to the natural way of things, but behaving as if the whole world is upside down! We’re no longer part of nature, but part of the divine. That’s what’s required of us.

What does that even look like? Leviticus gives us a bit of an insight into the otherworldly nature of God. For example, leaving crops on the field, and grapes in the vineyard for the poor and needy, reflect a generosity and faith that God will provide. Being honest, not stealing, not swearing falsely, gossiping about neighbours, nor mistreating the handicapped reflects an integrity of character that sometimes requires supernatural strength to do. Both integrity and generosity are not the natural way of things.

For example, babies don’t come out of the womb saying, “it’s okay, you go first,” or “here, have my baba.” They scream out in anger at the smallest offence, and their favourite word is “mine!” We teach them to be generous, but even as adults, generosity is an effort for most of us.

It’s tempting to give a little insane laugh when Jesus says, “be perfect.” How is that possible? If there’s one thing I’ve established over my 48 years, it’s that perfection is never something I will attain. So why would he even ask this?

I think I have an answer for that. I think Jesus is establishing a baseline for us. He’s telling us what’s required, and he wants us to throw our arms up in the air in hopelessness. Really, I think this is the point. After all, perfection is frankly unattainable. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you will never be generous enough, nor have integrity enough to please God. Some of us are better at faking it for longer, but most know: our own efforts only go so far.

So I think Jesus wants us to simultaneously know what’s required by God, and to know we cannot achieve it.

The idea of being hit in the face, and turning my cheek for another blow may sound romantically spiritual, but I’d likely turn around and run. Or come back swinging! I like to think I’d love my enemies, but there are a few names that come to mind for which love is not the first emotion I have.

So this is why I need Christ. I need to understand his words so I will yearn for perfection; I need to appreciate my weakness, my true inability to save myself, and I need to fling myself on his mercy, fully recognizing my broken, selfish, egocentric, self-absorbed reality.

That sounds hopeless, doesn’t it? To own up to our faults? It can be scary too, if we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking we’re doing pretty good.

But the opposite is true! This isn’t hopeless, this is a reason to have hope! Perfection is required, and God is making me perfect. Holiness is required, and God makes me holy.

It’s out of our hands! And that’s a good thing!


Tags:sermons
Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Related Song

Have you ever wondered the different ways you can praise God? This Psalm tell us that even clashing, clanging noise can be praise!

I like to think that you can praise him doing anything at all-- getting out of bed, yawning, watching a TV show, scratching an itch, enjoying an apple, going for a walk, sipping a glass of wine-- these are all ways to express our enjoyment of God, our praise, our celebration of his goodness!

I would love to hear from you about ways you prefer to praise him. Maybe share in the comments different ways to celebrate our God!

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

The Lamb of God

"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Have you ever had an epiphany?

What is an epiphany? The dictionary defines it as a sudden, intuitive perception or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

This is why we call this time of year Epiphany, because we study and celebrate the simple occurrences that revealed the reality of Jesus: that he is God.

This week we focus on John the Baptist, and the testimony he provided concerning Jesus.

It had only been the day before that Pharisees had sent some priests and levites to confront John. "What's the deal here," they wanted to know. "Are you the messiah, or maybe you think you're Elijah, what with the way you're eating locusts and honey, wearing camel hair clothing... are you some kind prophet? Tell us about yourself." That was yesterday.

He had told them he was NOT the messiah, that someone else was coming, who was much more worthy.

So imagine his surprise when he was standing there, chatting with his disciples, and Jesus himself starts walking toward him. And in typical John fashion, his response was a little unusual. ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is who I was talking about yesterday!’

The lamb of God! Any good Jew would connect these words to the stories of Abraham and Isaac. Those words would remind anybody of that first substitutionary sacrifice when God provided the very thing he required! What a strange name to give someone.

John's students turned and looked at Jesus. What was going through their heads? "What lamb? This guy?" I can see Jesus smiling back at them, maybe a twinkle of humour in his eyes.

John continued, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. Just like I was told by God himself, this was the sign that Jesus was the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

If you were John's disciple, it would be tempting to transfer your credits, wouldn't it? I mean, your own teacher is in awe of this guy! John baptizes with water, but Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit!

The next day it happens all over again! John's standing with two of his disciples - Andrew, and likely John the Evangelist (we don't know that for sure) - and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’

Again, the "lamb of God!"

So they decided then and there, "that's it, we're following this guy." I love how the scripture describes that encounter:

Jesus turns around, and there are these two guys following him. "Can I help you?" he says, (my paraphrase). You looking for something?"

The men answered, "We're wondering where you live?"

"Come and see." he answered.

So they went and checked out his apartment, and hung out with Jesus until 4 p.m! Then the one named Andrew, in his excitement, went and found his brother Simon, "I've found the messiah! Come and see!"

It starts as such a commonplace story. Some intrigue, curiosity, friends getting to know each other, hanging out. And yet just below the surface is this foreshadowing. The lamb of God! Back in Egypt the lamb's blood painted on the frame of the door kept the spirit of God from destroying the first born within. And here we have the lamb of God himself, whose blood would also protect us from destruction.

So this is the epiphany! The revealing of the true nature of Jesus - he is the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

Have mercy on us.
Steadfast God,
you have enriched and enlightened us
by the revelation of your eternal Christ.
Comfort us in our mortality
and strengthen us
to walk the path of your desire,
so that by word and deed we may manifest
the gracious news of your faithfulness and love.

Amen.


Tags:sermons
Thursday, February 9th, 2017
Related Song

Have you ever felt like the world is against you?

God is there for you, he cares for you, he loves you, he protects you, he'll save you in time of trouble, he'll rescue you, he'll lift you up, he'll “guard your head in times of trouble.”

In this Psalm we're reminded that He is our deliverer. I pray you'll remember that in your hard times, and your low times.

Please leave a comment describing ways in which God has delivered you in times of trouble.

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Salt of the Earth

I like the salt metaphor we find in the Gospels. Jesus calls us, his followers, to be salt of the earth. Have you ever heard that phrase used to describe a person? She's the salt of the Earth, is a way of saying she's reliable, trustworthy, and straightforward.

But is that what Jesus had in mind? I suspect like many of his other metaphors and parables, he saw salt in use around him and drew on those observations to teach in a subtle and profound way.

Just as he would call the disciples who were fishermen, to be fishers of men, or describe us as clay in a potter’s hand, or refer to God as a good shepherd, and we his sheep; just like his metaphor of being the vine, and we the branches who bear good fruit- in a similar way I think there may be a metaphor hiding in the salt of the earth comparison.

But why would we want to be salt? Let’s consider three well-known uses of salt.

We use it to flavour our food-- I did some research on why it brings out flavours, and this is what I discovered: Salt is used as a universal flavour improver because at low concentrations it will reduce bitterness, but increase sweet, sour and umami, which is desirable for sweet recipes. But at higher concentrations it suppresses sweetness and enhances umami, which is good for savoury things.

So what about us as Christ-followers? Do we enhance the flavour of the world? Or have we lost our saltiness, and are no good for anything, not even reducing the bitterness around us? Are we making life sweeter, or is our salt in such high concentration that people spit us out of their figurative mouths?
We also use salt in this cold country for melting ice. On paths, roads, and sidewalks, salt ensures we don’t slip and fall, or crash our vehicles into oncoming traffic. Why does it work this way? Adding salt will significantly lower the freezing point of water such that it begins melting back into its liquid form. It has to be a lot colder outside for salt-water to freeze!

So what about us as Christ-followers? Does our presence in the world help people to get a grip on the highway of life? Are we melting the ice of unfriendliness, and distrust such that relationships might grow and so that love may abound? Are we exposing the path beneath our feet so those behind us can follow without fear of slipping? Are we lowering the freezing point so that the hearts of our neighbours melt into love and kindness and good deeds?
We also use salt as a preservative. Before refrigeration existed, meat would be salted and left to dry out in the sun. The salt absorbs all of the water in the food, and since water is essential for bacteria to grow, the food can be kept for a long time without rotting. In a similar way, salt is used In pickling. By adding salt, we create an environment for good bacteria to thrive, which produce lactic acid. At the very same time, salt creates a bad environment for bad bacteria which would otherwise cause the food to spoil.

So what about us as Christ-followers? Are we acting as a preservative in our society? Does our presence create an environment for good attitudes? Does our saltiness foster love, joy, peace, and kindness? Or have we lost our saltiness such that gossip, fear-mongering, ignorance, hatred and other spoilage is the result?

Those are three well known examples, but there are many more. Salt is also used in water softeners-- salt is also one of the main ingredients in paper production - it transforms into caustic soda and chlorine, which are used to soften wood and bleach the paper white. It can also be used to

remove wine and grease stains from carpet,
relieve stings, bites, and poison ivy,
keep windows and windshields frost-free,
deodorize your sneakers, your garbage disposal,
speed up cooking time,
shell hard-boiled eggs with ease,
revive wrinkled apples,
stop cut fruit from browning,
prevent mould on cheese,
extinguish grease fires,
And so much more

Imagine that! Imagine what our world would look like if we were truly salt! Imagine how we would flavour, thaw, and preserve this world! In Jesus’ opening words to his famous sermon on the mount, he gives us a glimpse of the effect we could have, if only we would listen and follow those teachings.

Teachings like

not to murder, or even think evil of your brother,
not to commit adultery, or even hold lustful thoughts,
not to swear falsely, or even swear truthfully,
to not resist evil doers, but to give them all they take, and more
to love your neighbour, and even your enemy
to practice piety, but to do it secretly,
to forgive others,
to watch what you let into your eyes,
to serve only one master,
to not worry about your life, what you will eat, or wear, or to worry about tomorrow,
to not judge others, or even try to fix people around you,
to ask for what you want, to search, to knock, and to find,
to treat others as you would like to be treated,
to be wary of false prophets,
and finally to act on these words.

Those who do these things will make a lasting difference in this world. Let’s make a decision today to be salt of the earth!


Tags:sermons
Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
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It's kind of perfect for me, a Psalm about guarding one's mouth... it tends to be my downfall that I say things I shouldn't, that I blurt out arrogant judgements of other people, that I don't watch what I say.

Like David, I need to call out to the Lord that He would set a guard over my mouth, and watch the door of my lips.

Who else can relate?

January

Friday, January 20th, 2017
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It's kind of neat singing a Psalm about singing! It's awesome praising God with my musical instruments, while the words beneath the music are “make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!”

I'm obeying this Psalm when it says “Sing to him a new song,” right?
It's kind of amazing!

This arrangement was a hard one for me. I had the chorus right away, and loved it, but then realized I had the translation set to the NIV-- which is one I try not to use. I did a reset, and went at it again, but it took hours. :-/

In the end, I think the song turned out well. My wife Joanne is singing the harmony with me on the chorus, and as usual her voice is amazing!

Thanks for listening and I ask you to consider whether you can become a patron to my project.

https://patreon.com/JasonSilver

Blessings!

Friday, January 13th, 2017
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The footage in this video is from a 1912 silent film called “From the Manger to the Cross.” Unfortunately the film doesn't have a resurrection scene, but there are some very good clips nevertheless.

I wrote this song in 2013, when we first started our contemporary liturgical service. Eventually we stopped using it in favour of “The Apostle's Creed Song,” which I wrote a few months later.

I thought it might be fun to record this song in case it was helpful to anyone, or in case anyone could use it in their own church services. As usual, the sheet music for this song is on my web site, jasonsilver.com

Friday, January 6th, 2017
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As I narrow down the list of Psalms not yet put to contemporary music, they are getting increasingly longer! This is hard, because many words can make for a much longer song, and potentially less interesting too.

This is one of the ones left with a fewer number of verses (only 12), but I still felt the challenge on it.