December 23, 2016
The angels deliver this wonderful news to a group of frightened shepherds in the hills around Bethlehem. This is the one sentence version of the Good News of Jesus birth at Christmas. We are reminded that we are not alone. There is a God in Heaven who loves us and reaches out into this dark world in love to save us from spiritual death. God could have sent an army. God could have worked through the official church. God chose to do something very unusual. God chose to reach out to us through a baby born to an unwed 13 year old girl in a cattle shed in an occupied country. It was a sign of God’s love – and a test of human faith and love. Each year we need to rejoice with the angels that our savior has come.
1. Luke gives us a very historical account of the Birth of Jesus
Luke’s tells us his mission is to “carefully investigate everything...” (1.3). In our time of questioning the authority and authenticity of the Bible, it is comforting to notice the historical details in the account:
at 10:58 AM
November 23, 2016
Following the traumatic emotional experiences of all the delegates at the last Anglican Synod, Archbishop Kerr-Wilson suggested the Anglican Church of Canada needs to "find a better way forward". Let me propose that since the bishops are consecrated and charged with the unique responsibility to "...guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church." (BAS p. 637) a better way forward would be to take back this responsibility which they unwisely shared with Synod delegates. We are living in a very confused post-truth time when our House of Bishops badly needs to change direction from meekly pandering to special interest groups to avoid conflict; to boldly proclaiming God's grace, love, forgiveness and healing to all God's children. This will mean directly and publicly challenging the false teachers who many believe have been de-constructing the Christian Faith, clearly correcting the false teachings that have destroyed our unity and enforcing serious discipline on the clergy and bishops who are causing this disunity.
1. Challenging the false teachers who have been de-constructing Christian Faith
November 18, 2016
The Reign of Christ marks the end of the Christian liturgical year. This Reign began with the Resurrection of Jesus. We celebrate our salvation in Jesus Christ from spiritual death in the kingdom of darkness and baptism into eternal spiritual life in the Kingdom of those in right-relationship with God. The Readings begin with Jeremiah's promise that God would raise up a "righteous branch" line who would save His people from spiritual death - the consequence of their sin guilt and separation. Next Paul reminds the people of Colosse (in modern Turkey) that they have been rescued from spiritual death in the Kingdom of Darkness through their faith in the shed blood of Jesus.
1. Gospel teaches us how to enter the Kingdom of God
Notice the different responses of people to Jesus.
November 5, 2016
Who are the “saints”? The Apostle Paul seems to be talking about both living and recently deceased members of the Christian Community. When he speaks about “the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints...” (Ephesians 1.18); it is fairly clear that the “saints” are all those who have:
· “Heard the word of truth” and “believed (1.13).
· Have this “hope” to which we are all called.
· Been given the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” (1.17) and
· Experienced - “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”.. (1.18) so that people will come to personally know God
· Jesus is explaining how the Kingdom of God is expanding into the physical world as people move through these four steps
Step # 1: Seeing our poverty
The poor are those who lack something. They know they need something more.
October 22, 2016
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector teaches us the difference between religious life and spiritual life. The Pharisee is religious but not really spiritual. The Tax Collector is spiritual but not really religious. These words can be confusing as their meaning overlaps. To understand this teaching we need to think of ‘religion’ as formal teachings and outward ways of showing devotion to God. In contrast we can think of spiritual life as what goes on inside a person – in their heart. Do they really love God and other people - or is what they do just a show to gain approval by other people?
1. In Luke 18.4-14 Jesus teaches us the importance of repentance
September 9, 2016
The Readings are about searching for something lost and rejoicing when it is found. The parables about lost sheep and a lost coin teach us the importance of not giving up and working hard to find the lost. In the Gospel Reading Jesus is specifically targeting the Pharisees who instead of going out to search for the lost were content, like many of us, to sit around and condemn sinners. Sinners are like the lost sheep because they have wandered away from the protection of the community to do their own thing. September 11 is a good time to honour the hundreds of policemen and firemen who chose to rush into burning buildings to find and rescue Gods precious children. By the way if you are ever driving past the Museum of the Regiments on Crowchild Trail in Calgary and notice what looks like a steel beam beside the old guns – it’s a piece of the World Trade Centre presented to Calgary firefighters who volunteered to help the day after.
1. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners
August 19, 2016
The Readings teach us that all of Jesus Earthly ministry involved freeing people from bondage. His purpose or mission was to give up His own sinless life as a perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of all people – and potentially break to power evil and of sin-guilt so believers could have eternal spiritual life. Jesus ministry freed people from the bondage of false religious teaching and the bondages of physical illness and spiritual oppression. His goal was to free us from our foolishness, our fear and the deceptions and control of Satan. Gods’ children were to have a new spiritual life of love, joy and peace.
1. Jeremiah was freed from his bondage to fear
at 4:53 PM
By Lucille Gishler (nee Paulson)
Given July 26, 2016 at Willingdon St. Church, Burnaby, B.C.
My name is Lucille Gishler. My husband and I live in northwest Calgary. I am the 5th child out of 7 children of which Philip was the first born.
Philip was born October 29, 1933 in Innisfail Alberta. His parents Clifford and Florence Paulson had attended Prairie Bible Institute and were starting the Christian and Missionary Alliance church. It is a thriving church today. Philip was given Biblical names. Philip was one of the apostles and Timothy was St Paul’s assistant accompanying him on his missionary journeys. On Sept 19th 1934 they left Canada to become missionaries in China with the China Inland Mission now called the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. They left from Vancouver on a Norwegian freighter. Philip was 11 months old. A few years ago I visited a friend of my mothers in Coventry, England who said she had been one of my mother’s Sunday school pupils and had who waved them goodbye in Vancouver.
at 4:49 PM
July 7, 2016
June 18, 2016
The Prayer Jesus taught gives us the essentials of Christian Faith. It begins with the incredibly profound and comforting words that God is our father. I remember bursting into tears the first time I sang the song “I have a father”. “Father” is the first Theological definition of God in the Trinity. Father reminds us that God is ultimately our creator through His creation, including our human mothers and fathers. Fathers create, sustain and protect us as children of God. The Readings for today remind us that:
- God is our father,
- Relationship with God depends on our loyalty and
- Believers have a life of love, joy and peace - and authority in the metaphysical dimension.
1. Isaiah reminds us that rebellion has its consequences
May 14, 2016
Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a celebration of the beginning of the Covenant of Jesus when the Holy Spirit was to be poured out on all men as promised by the Prophet Joel. The Gospel Reading is part of a long talk Jesus gives at the Last Supper. He is giving the disciples an overview of what is going to happen following His arrest, trial and Crucifixion. He is trying to give them – and us comfort and hope by promising believers will not be left alone. The Good News is that God will send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, teacher and healer to be His presence with them – and us.
1. We, like The first Disciples need comfort
John 14 begins with the words “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. Jesus has just given them the bad news that one of them is about to betray Him and that He is about to be arrested, taken from them and killed. The Disciples were wondering what would happen to them.
April 30, 2016
The Readings remind us that the first followers of Jesus were taught, led and directed by the Holy Spirit. Paul goes to Philippi in response to a dream and then is “...carried away in the Spirit to a mountain top...” (Rev. 21.10) where he sees a vision of the New Jerusalem coming down to Earth. Many Christians are afraid of the Holy Spirit because it has led to divisions in the church between those who have and have not experienced the divine in supernatural form. This fear may appear wise to some but it is very unwise because this cuts people off from having an ongoing relationship with Jesus and limits our faith to moral rules and rituals – like the Pharisees of Jesus time. We must not give in to the ‘avoid religious conflict at all costs’ mantra of the current generation. We must, as Captain Kirk world say, “boldly go where no one has gone before” - and ask the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. This is a clear promise from Jesus. (John 14.26)
1. The Holy Spirit teaches us truth (go from error into truth in BAS Prayer 3)
Our time is dramatically different from previous generations because a vague new liberal philosophy has now replaced the old values of Christendom, and specifically the idea of absolute truth.
March 26, 2016
Easter is a joyous celebration of God intervening dramatically in human history. The Bible is the long history of God reaching out to people to have a holy love relationship with them. There is joy and chaos as the Apostles try to understand what is going on. They were obviously confused. We need to understand that this is a real, historical event before we can go on to understand what it means for us and our own Baptismal Covenant.
1. Was Jesus really dead and did this really happen?
March 18, 2016
The readings are preparing us for the Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Experience. The Readings remind us that Jesus had great courage in facing opposition, modelled humility and obedience and made a New Covenant of forgiveness with believers. This New Covenant includes the Ten Commandments but adds the possibility of forgiveness through repentance and faith in the shed blood of Jesus. The Readings help us understand that Jesus is more than a teacher of goodness. Jesus is the Lord of a New Covenant relationship with God. As we prepare ourselves for the Easter experience it is a good time to examine our lives for evidence of humility and obedience to our half of this New Covenant – which is our Baptismal Covenant.
1. Have you “set your face like flint”?
March 11, 2016
Children ask us all the important questions. My daughter Mary for example asked me “What percent of people are happy in their work?” I told her I had no idea but would guess that less than half the population are happy, enjoy what they are doing and feel their lives have meaning and purpose. Most people seem to just drift through life without ever really thinking about where they are going. If you do not have a goal, any road will take you there. This is why one of author Stephen Covey’s “Seven habits of successful people” is being proactive. Being proactive means consciously deciding on a goal and then focussing your actions on achieving that goal.
1. Paul is urging the Phillipians to focus on the right goal
February 26, 2016
A long time ago when I said something that annoyed my Daughter she told me to “Get a life”. This was actually a common expression in the 90s. It suggests that someone is just not getting it. They are not aware of what is really going on around them. It is a challenge to think and ‘smarten up – appropriate for the Brownies and Guides in church today for “Thinking Day”. The Bible Readings challenge us to think about our lives and get a better life – a spiritual life. Our parents give us a biological or physical life. God wants’ to give us a spiritual life – an emotional life based on being in a personal love-relationship with God. This spiritual life guides (are the Guides listening?) us, protects us and comforts us in this life – and is what we take to Heaven when we die. It is what we call our eternal spiritual life of love joy and peace.
1. Isaiah Reading (55.1-9) is an invitation to get a spiritual life
February 19, 2016
The Readings for the Second Sunday in Lent remind us of the terrible consequences of rebellion; and our need to examine our own lives to see if we are in any form of rebellion against God. Jesus grief over Jerusalem in the Gospel reminded me of my own grief over some of my family members and friends who are in a state of rebellion against God. Like Jesus we all know how hard it is to get those in rebellion to see their rebellion as pride, selfishness and self-deception. They think they are the smart ones and that believers are the deceived ones. The readings remind us that this is an old and sometimes unsolvable problem – and to stay focused on our own acts of rebellion.
1. In Genesis (15.1-18) Abram is questioning the power of God
February 12, 2016
The Readings for the First Sunday in Lent are chosen to help us prepare ourselves spiritually for the celebration of Easter through a time of deep self examination, repentance and confession. The goal is not to make us feel guilty but to help us draw nearer to God by overcoming the things – particularly the temptations to sin; that distract us and pollute our personal spirits and so we cannot survive in the presence of God who is holy.
- The Deuteronomy Reading (26.1-11) reminds us of our Old Testament Covenant and Baptism obligation to give thanks and acknowledge God as the one who gives us life.
- Psalm 91 reminds us that God also gives us protection and refuge in a dangerous world.
1. In Romans 10.8-13 we learn how God’s forgiveness of sin works
First of all we are told that the “Word” is near us, in our hearts. We do not have to go to a special place such as Israel or India. God wants an emotional relationship in our hearts – our soul and spirit. But God is so holy, pure and undivided He cannot be where there is spiritual pollution. Spiritual pollution would burn up in the fire of God’s holy love. This is why we all need to clearly understand and believe in the legal and spiritual process of “justification:
February 10, 2016
At the pancake supper last night someone asked me about the meaning of Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday was the day ancient monks and holy men went to Confession with a priest to be forgiven (“shriven”) of their sins to prepare for the season of Lent. This was symbolized in the outward form of shaving their head as a sign of being penitent. On Ash Wednesday we take this a step further by examining our lives, coming for Confession and having our foreheads marked with ashes as a reminder that we have come from the dust and our bodies will return to the dust. In the Readings first Joel reminds us why we need to examine our hearts, then Paul challenges us to choose between Earthly and Heavenly treasures and Jesus challenges us to take this seriously.
1. Joel warned the Hebrew People to prepare for the Day of the Lord
at 4:04 PM
January 22, 2016
The story of Jesus reading the Isaiah Prophecy in the Synagogue and telling the people it was being fulfilled in their sight must have been a dramatic moment. Not only was Jesus claiming to be the long promised Messiah; He was re-defining the mission of the Messiah as preaching and proclaiming the love of God in healing and freeing His people. Those people, like us, were in deep spiritual darkness. They did not clearly know what God wanted. They did not all know how much God loved them. They did not all know how close a spiritual relationship God wanted to have with them. They did not understand the spiritual forces of evil that were deceiving them, blinding them and preventing them from coming into a relationship of joy with their God.
1. We are anointed to proclaim Good News of healing and freedom
People are starving for a relationship with God. Most people do not really know how to pray or what to expect. They are surrounded by conflicting and usually wrong information about what God wants. What they need is strong, authoritative preaching of the truth.
January 16, 2016
The Readings (Isaiah 62.1-5), John 2.1-11 and 1 Corinthians 12.1-11) all talk about signs - God blessing His people Israel, Jesus turning water into wine and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are all signs or evidence of the glory of God. Signs give us hope in our faith and teach us to be signs of that glory. Everyone needs some Epiphany moment - an experience or sign of God’s love in their lives. This helps us believe in God and to be transformed into a sign of His glory in the world.
1. Isaiah prophecies that God will bless Israel as a sign of His love
at 2:06 PM
January 1, 2016
"Epiphany" is a special religious word. It describes a profound personal experience. An Epiphany moment is when our spiritual eyes are opened and we see something in a very new and different way. An Epiphany moment is a religions "ah - ha" experience when something we thought we new for sure turns out to be wrong or incomplete; or something we thought was not true turns out to be true. Our personal spiritual life is a series of these Epiphany moments. The gifts of the wise men for example teach us the answer to the question "Who is Jesus"? These moments do not come to everyone. They come to those who make a serious effort to seek the wisdom of God.
1. Isaiah was a God - seeker