March 29, 2014

We Are All Born Spiritually Blind (Lent 4 Readings)

We can see physically, most of us, but we cannot see spiritually when we are born. ‘Seeing’ is a metaphor for understanding. In our case it means we do not understand how the unseen spiritual world operates. Our understanding of the unseen spiritual world is about the same as a blind persons’ understanding of the physical world.

  • With experience the blind person will develop understanding of the physical world just as with experience we can develop understanding of the spiritual world.
  • At birth we know nothing. We are, as the Apostle Paul says “darkness” and “disobedient” (Ephesians 6.8, 12).
The readings challenge us all to be open to being healed by Jesus, like the man born blind so we can see spiritually, come out of this darkness and be transformed into “children of light”. (Eph. 6.8).

 1. Spiritual blindness is worse than physical blindness
People that are born physically blind know they are blind. They begin adapting right away. Those who are spiritually blind, in contrast, usually do not know they are spiritually blind. They are often like the Pharisees who had deceived themselves and thought that they had special spiritual insight.

March 22, 2014

Jesus Gives Us the Living Water of Hope (Lent 3)

The Exodus reading (17.1-7) reminded us of how the Hebrew people had been dependant on God for physical water in order to survive. In the Romans reading (5.1-11) the Apostle Paul is explaining Jesus as the one who gives us the hope of forgiveness and a new personal relationship with God. This hope leads us into a personal experience of God’s love.
  • Hope is what can get us through difficulties in life.
  • Difficulties of life push us to choose to hope in God and actually make us spiritually stronger.
  • Downside is that for some people, who do not have this hope, life can be overwhelming and destructive.
Gospel reading (John4.5-42) gives a very detailed account of Jesus revealing the Good News of hope to the least likely person - a Samaritan woman living with a man out of wedlock. As a devout Jew he probably should not have even talked to her, let alone accepted a drink of water. Jesus is modelling evangelism and church building. As people wondering about the future of our church we need to study Jesus teachings very carefully. We don’t know anyone who does not need the living water of hope.

1. Jesus gives us the living water of forgiveness
In this conversation we see how quickly Jesus uses the example of physical water to explain “spiritual water”. This teaches us how to explain our faith in practical terms to other people.

March 14, 2014

Do You Believe in God the Holy Spirit?

The story of Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3.1-17) shows us the difference between a Biblical or spiritual world view and what most people think. It is the key story for people who want nothing to do with "Religion" but want to have an authentic experience of the divine - a spiritual life. As we examine our spiritual lives in Lent it is important that we enter this conversation and ask ourselves if we really believe in being born again and the Holy Spirit. This is different from knowing about the Holy Spirit and generally the result of a personal experience of being "Born Again" and experiencing the Holy Spirit in daily life.

1.     Candidates for Christian Baptism are asked some very heavy questions
             This question comes as part of the examination of the candidates / sponsors and is   part of the Apostles Creed in the Baptism Service. It is after the questions about renouncing Satan and evil and after the questions about accepting, trusting and obeying Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Nicodemus could not answer this question about being Born Again and receiving the Holy Spirit.
·   For him Baptism was water baptism and cleansing
·   For him you had to earn a right relationship with God by keeping the Law of Moses
·   Romans Reading explains the difference between salvation by works vs by grace through faith
·   The Apostles Creed summarizes this Faith
·   Nicodemus was highly educated but could not understand what Jesus meant by being ‘born again’
·   Many Anglicans in our time have the same problem
·   We need to examine our own faith to  prepare for our renewal of Baptismal promises at Easter
2.     Serious Baptism preparation is essential in our time

March 7, 2014

Self-examination Helps us Grow in our Spiritual Life (Lent 1)

The Reading (Mat. 4.1-11) teaches us that we will be tempted to rebel against God by the hidden voice of Satan. This is in addition to the voice of our own ego and our human cravings for love, wealth and power. Many people in North America have been deceived by false teachings on the Bible and do not believe in Satan. I was probably one of those people until I had a personal experience of Satan’s voice. I was standing on a busy sidewalk in Calgary beside the woman I had just fallen in love with. There were four lanes of traffic and we were waiting at traffic light for the signal to cross. A thought came into my head “if you just push her a little she will fall into the traffic and be killed”. I was stunned! Where was this coming from! Then another voice helped me understand – I had experienced spiritual evil. The Bible stories of Satan are not exaggerated!


 Let us consider the question of why we should examine our spiritual life before going on to the practical questions of how to do this and prepare for weekly Confession and Absolution.


1. Why should I examine my spiritual life?
Regular self-examination is at the heart of developing a spiritual life. . This is the work of examining your motives and actions to ensure you are cleaning out spiritual pollution and developing a closer love relationship with Jesus. This is the best way to identify and overcome our hidden temptations.

March 1, 2014

Life ‘in Christ’ is the Goal of Spiritual Life (Transfiguration)

The Transfiguration of Jesus is an Epiphany Moment when the supernatural dimension became briefly visible to Peter, James and John. We need these supernatural Epiphany Moments to re-focus our priorities in this secular age. The Transfiguration of Jesus (Mathew 17.1-9) revealed the glory of God and the divine nature of Jesus in a stunning new way. The Apostle Paul, writing in Philippians 3.7-14, responded to his own personal experience of Jesus by setting aside all his previous religious knowledge in order to focus on getting to know Jesus so intimately that he lived his life spiritually and emotionally “in Christ”. Knowledge and personal experience of Jesus is the goal of our spiritual lives.

 1. God created us to be in relationship with Him
People in our time are starving for a personal experience of the divine. They are tired of ‘religion’. They are seeking spiritual life. This sounds at first like a contradiction – spiritual life without the religion? What they mean is authentic spiritual experience without the long boring theological lectures and rituals. The problem is people need both: