Thursday, September 5, 2013

Who Affects You?

In North America today we are flooded with images, thoughts, ideas, and philosophies on a daily basis. These communications are designed to influence our thoughts and in turn, our behaviors. Whether it is a commercial trying to get you to buy the newest car or a infomercial describing the newest "breakthrough in inner healing," we soak in a lot of material each day without really even trying to do so.

All communication is influence. There is much of this influence that we can't avoid if we intend to live in society. It is next to impossible to watch television, walk down the street, or stroll through a mall without someone trying to influence you. I would suggest, however, that it is possible to choose which of these messages we will allow to influence our thinking and behavior.

On the level of personal choice we must also take care in choosing who we "let in". Actors, singers, writers, and speakers all have an agenda. They want to influence. The Apostle Paul talked about some people whose influence was not profitable for the churches of Galatia. Notice these verses:

Galatians 4:16-17 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.

Family Bible Notes says, " They; the false teachers professed a great regard for the Galatians, that they might detach them from Paul, and attach them to themselves."

Every communicator is trying to elicit a response from his or her audience. Let's be sure that we are listening to the right people with the right message. And we should be most careful about the "sneaky communicators". Over the past decade we have watched a trend of entertainers who are pushing an anti-God, low morality agenda through entertainment. This appears not just in their off-air interviews but figures prominently into the messaging and story lines of their entertainment product. We need to be aware that just because a show is "funny" or a song is catchy doesn't mean that the message is one that we should be allowing to influence and in turn shape our lives.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Down by the Shore

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In the Presence of Evil

Friday, February 22, 2013

Watch "How To Love God - Quiet Talks - Jason Homan, Pastor Northside Baptist" on YouTube

How To Love God

Well, we all know that Jesus said that loving God was the most important commandment, but let's read it again.

Mark 12:28-33 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

So how do we love God? Is loving God just the emotion that wells up inside us as we hear songs about His care for us? Is loving God just the conviction and encouragement we feel when God's Word is preached and we are spurred on to greater works for Him? No, emotion is one puzzle piece in loving God, but it is not the whole puzzle.

Looking at First John 4:19 we realize that our love for God is our response to His love for us.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Therefore, the more we learn of, know, and understand God's love for us; the more we will love Him in return. Our love is a responsive love.

We have to be careful not to make the mistake of our culture and equate love to feelings. Feelings come and go. Tue love is a constant. God chooses to love us despite our roller coaster of love and rebellion towards Him. You see, pure love is a choice.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Not only is love a choice in response to God's love, but love is giving. The desire to give is at the heart of love. The scribe in Mark twelve tells us that we are to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Many times we read this verse and skip over this because we think that the Bible is just repeating itself for emphasis. This is not the case. God is delineating exactly what he wants us to give to Him as a display of our responsive love of Him. Basically God is telling us that the way to love Him is to give ourselves back to Him.

The heart speaks of our emotions. We still say, "I love her with all my heart." Too often we go to one extreme or another in the area of emotion in the spiritual life. Either we make all of our spiritual walk about our emotions, or we dismiss emotion as something human that God doesn't want. On the contrary, God gave us emotions and wants us to use them in love and worship of Him.

The soul in the Bible (as contrasted to the body and spirit) talks about our personality, what makes us unique; who we are. God has made each of us special. Because He has made each of us unique He wants us  each to love Him with our own special personality, not copying someone else's love or spiritual method. God doesn't want a relationship with a spiritual formula, He wants a relationship with that unique and special creation of His...You!

The mind, of course, is the intellect. Again, there are those who go to extremes in their spiritual lives. They either make love for God all about Bible knowledge, study, and doctrine, or they dismiss intellectual study all together in favour of emotion and pragmatism. Both extremes are wrong and dangerous. We give our intellect back to God by using it in balance as a practice of our love for Him.

And so we finally come to our strength. Strength then conveys the concept of all that is physical. Each of us have physical attributes, strength, and abilities that God gave us. In a continual act of love for God we use them as a gift of love to Him.

This is how we love God. We give back to Him all of who we are in a response to His love displayed to us.

In a side note, we also realize that we are instructed to love our neighbour in the same way.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Watch "The Moon and the Christian - Quiet Talks - Jason Homan, Pastor Northside Baptist" on YouTube

The Moon and the Christian

Genesis 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

Today we talk about the parallels between the moon and the Christian. 

We all know that this world is dark with pain, grief, evil and wickedness.
 John 3:19 ... men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

We know that Jesus said that He is the Light of the World.
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 

We then, as Christians are the "lesser light," like the moon. The moon makes no light itself. What we see from earth is the moon reflecting the light from the sun back to us. Without Jesus we have nothing to give this world. We have no wisdom, no knowledge, no light outside of Him. It is the Christian's job, not to produce his or her own light, but to get into an orbit where he or she can reflect the light of Jesus back into this dark world.

The second thing we realize concerning the moon is that sometimes the light from the sun cannot get to the moon because the earth is in the way. It is what we call a lunar eclipse. Many times in the life of a Christian the cares of this world and the things of this earth come between us and God. During those times when our focus is pulled away from Christ we cannot reflect His light. 

Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 
Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

The third thing that we realize about the moon is that it has influence. We call it gravity. It is this gravity that pulls the oceans and is responsible for tides. As Christians we have a certain amount of gravity or influence. There is a circle of people who will, to one extent or another, listen to us and follow us. 

The question then is, "What are we doing with the influence that we have, and are we reflecting the light of Jesus into that circle of influence?"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Watch "Good Works Without Strings - Quiet Talks - Jason Homan, Pastor Northside Baptist" on YouTube

Good Works Without Strings Attached

God is good all the time. The popularity of the saying does not decrease its truth or the value of that truth to us. Because God is good, He does good things. Interestingly enough, void of the pride and pettiness that we humans carry, God aims at doing good for everyone.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Even in the physical realm, God displays His good works to all.

Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

God's good works are not just directed toward those who are good and obedient.

So often we are willing to be charitable toward those that in our eyes "deserve" our help. If God had taken this attitude, none of us would have the opportunity for salvation, or even air to breathe for that matter.

In this age of church growth seminars many times the idea is floated that if the church would just do more good works (and possibly force those who receive our "generosity" to sit through a lecture on their sin and need of Jesus) then the church will grow. God does not do good with strings attached. That is not saying that the church should not be aggressive in preaching the Gospel. However, to have church growth as the motive for good works is unbiblical. God does good because He is good. Unfortunately, I have heard good, well-meaning Christians say something callous like, "I'll buy you some groceries if you promise to come to my church with me this week." That statement does not reflect the heart and method of God. God's goodness to us is not a trade or some kind of gospel trap.

God's goodness has a purpose. God displays His goodness to contrast against our wicked and self-centered world.

Look at: Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

More to the point, please go to an online concordance and read every verse in the Bible that talks about the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the fatherless. It will break your heart for them, and it will help you feel the heart of God.

In conclusion let me leave you with some thoughts and verses from Torrey's Topical Textbook. (a great free online resource). In regard to showing love toward our fellow man Torrey makes these points:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Watch "The Vow of the Nazarene - Quiet Talks - Jason Homan, Pastor Northside Baptist" on YouTube

The Vow of the Nazarene

Numbers chapter six tells us about the vow of the Nazarene. It seems that when an Jewish man or woman wanted to completely dedicate themselves to God and His service that they would make this vow or promise to Him. There were those who took upon themselves this vow for a period of time, and then there were those like Sampson and John the Baptist who were Nazarites from birth.

The vow consisted of three parts:

  1. They weren't allowed to touch anything that was dead.
  2. They couldn't eat or drink anything from a grape vine; wine, grapes, and raisins.
  3. They couldn't cut their hair during the time of the vow.
In the New Testament in Acts chapter twenty-one we find the Apostle Paul seems to have taken part in the vow of the Nazarene.

Jesus was often referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth." This does not mean that Jesus had undertaken the vow of the Nazarene. It just means that he was from the town of Nazareth in Galilee.

As we think about the Christian life in light of the vow of the Nazarene let me make a few observations:
  • We have been chosen.  Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
  • We have been chosen before the new birth (our salvation) to be holy and without blame.
  • This is accomplished by means of the cross of Jesus both positionally before God and practically in our daily life.
  • We are very much like Sampson and John the Baptist in that God has called us to be holy and provided the means to do so before our birth.
  • The vow of the Nazarene gave some rules about what the individual could not be involved in, namely anything to do with death and grapes. There are also principles (rules if you will) for what we should and should not be involved in.
  • The vow of the Nazarene involved an outward symbol, hair that was not cut. You see, it is not just our heart that must be right with God, but others must be able to see from our outward actions and even appearance that we are walking with Him.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Watch "Critical or Charitable? - Quiet Talks - Jason Homan, Pastor Northside Baptist Church" on YouTube

Critical or Charitable?

It is easy to point fingers. It is easier still to talk loud and long about what we think of others and their lives. It doesn't take any amount of character or brains to tear someone else down. The Bible really gives us a simple choice. We can either be critical or charitable. Being critical, setting ourselves up as a judge in someone else's life, is a sin.

Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

Charity, on the other hand, is love in action. It is moving away from a simple feeling of affection to displaying our love to others  in acts of help and blessing.

1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all your things be done with charity.

If we could put all of your criticisms of others into a metal bucket and put all of your acts of charity into another bucket, and I had the ability to set just one of those buckets on fire; which one would you want burned up? Would you like to lose your criticisms, or your charity? What do you like better: being right or being kind?

God has told us to do all things with charity. He has not told us to do anything by way of criticism and knocking others down.

And so today, determine to operate out of charity instead of out of a critical spirit.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Watch "What Are You Whining About? - Quiet Talks - Jason Homan, Pastor Northside Baptist.wmv" on YouTube

What Are You Whining About?

The Bible calls it murmuring. We call it being a selfish little... Well, I guess we all have different ways of saying things don't we? :-)

Murmuring can be defined as whining, whispering, or muttering under our breath about something that we are not happy about.

Look at Paul's instructions to the church at Phillipi.
Philippians 2:14-16 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Most times when you and I get whiny about something we don't like it is because of one or a combination of these reasons:

  1. We are being selfish and want our own way.
  2. We are not being grateful for what we do have already.
  3. We do not have all of the information.
  4. We are not willing to look at the big picture instead of our own viewpoint.
In this text the Apostle Paul says that our grumbling has a detrimental effect on three things:
  1. Our testimony (our light) is adversely affected.
  2. The Gospel of Christ is poorly displayed.
  3. Our murmuring discounts the efforts of those that have worked to mentor us spiritually. Paul said, "that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain."
And so, let us determine to be grateful, to try to see things from other's points of view, and to lift our eyes beyond our petty mindset and see the big picture. Today we choose to be positive, not for ourselves, but for the cause and the call of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Watch "Putting Music to Work - Quiet Talks - Jason Homan, Northside Baptist Church" on YouTube

Putting Music To Work

My challenge today is to convince you to be an active user of music rather than simply a passive listener. Music is everywhere in our society today, and that is a good thing. The movie producer uses music to manipulate you into either laughing, crying, or being scared. The advertiser uses music to try to convince you to buy and use his product. Everywhere you go, from the grocery store to the coffee shop music is being utilized to convey a message and to garner the desired response from you.

How does this all work? Well there are dozens of scientific studies, but basically it boils down to this; music is the language of emotion.

Because music is the language of emotion it has the ability to manipulate our emotions. Music has the ability to excite or calm, to anger or to pacify. My argument then is simple. We should use music to get the desired effect in our homes, emotions, and souls rather than being a passive listener of whatever comes across the television, radio, or computer. That means that we have to be intentional in choosing and playing music.

The Old Testament hints toward this principle in at least three places.

Saul's Emotional Response to David's Music:
1 Samuel 16:23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

Saul: The Inclusion of Music in Hearing the Voice of God (Prophecy).
1 Samuel 10:5-6 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. 

Elisha's Request for Music
2 Kings 3:15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him. 

In each of these examples we find a thread of a truth, and that is the fact that music has an effect and can be used to reach a desired goal in our emotions and souls. And so, I encourage you to be a user of music, not simply a passive listener. This is not the post for it, but there is good and bad music. Be selective. Be intentional with the choice and playing of music to reach the emotional goal that you want for your home and your inner self. Music is a powerful tool given to us by God. We can either use it to put our hearts into the place where they should be, or we can allow ourselves to be passively manipulated through music by others.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Watch "Lying to Yourself - Quiet Talks - Jason Homan, Northside Baptist Church" on YouTube

Don't Lie to Yourself...The Antinomian Problem

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

In the days of the Apostles there were those who were proclaiming their own spirituality while walking "in darkness." They were lying to themselves, and then to everyone else. Later in the 1500's, those who practiced this same kind of self-justified and self-delusional spiritual walk became known as the Antinomians. According to Webster's dictionary an Antinomian is, "One of a sect who maintain, that, under the gospel dispensation, the law is of no use or obligation; or who hold doctrines which supersede the necessity of good works and a virtuous life. This sect originated with John Agricola about the year 1538."

In short, an Antinomian is a person who has said that the doctrines of grace, liberty, and freedom in Christ make obeying the rules and applying the principles of the Bible unnecessary. Now, we all know that there were ceremonial and civil laws of the Jews that passed away when Jesus came and began the new covenant. However, it is not just these Jewish, Old Testament laws that the Antinomians try to declare obsolete. The Antinomian mindset of today is one of moral relativism and permissiveness. Today's Antinomian hesitates to call sin for what it is, or to define sin in any concrete way. The present day Antinomian mantra seems to be, "I'm free in Christ. I can do what I want to do. Don't talk to me about application of the laws and principles of Scripture."

Now, most of those who espouse this distorted view of Scripture do so to suit their own purpose. In short, they lie to themselves in order to feel good about ignoring or excusing the commands and application of the principles of Scripture systematically to their lives. For these confused saints things like doctrine and systematic theology are a thing of the ancient past to be held in contempt and despised. Love and liberty become the answer for every question, and the Bible becomes a book of cliches to take from context and upon which to hang arguments for their actions. These saints become, in effect, their own lawyers; using bits and pieces of the Bible to make a case against what God requires of them. They lie to themselves.

1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Watch "The Scene of the Crime - Quiet Talks - Feb 11 13" on YouTube

At the Scene of the Crime - The Responsibility of the Believer

In Deuteronomy chapter twenty-one God gives an interesting rule to the children of Israel. He says that if a murder takes place in a field outside of town limits and no one knows who the murderer is, that the men of the surrounding cities were to measure from the crime scene to their cities to determine which town or city is closest and would be held spiritually responsible. Once they had determined which town was to be held responsible in the murder, the elders of that town would bring a young cow and sacrifice it to the Lord at the crime scene washing their hands and declaring the innocence of their city in that murder. In doing so, they were taking spiritual responsibility for and playing a part in dealing with the spiritual fallout of that crime.

Today there are many things that just aren't right. There are crimes (we use this term loosely not legally) that go spiritually unanswered. We acknowledge the fact that there is spiritual fallout when harm is done. From the child that is abandoned or abused, to the elderly person that is neglected or taken advantage of and everything in between God requires us to be there to help with the fallout of these damaging circumstances. It is upon us, those who are closest to the "scene of the crime," that God has laid the responsibility to respond. When evil and wickedness rear their ugly head and do damage in the life of an innocent, it is our duty to step up and help them and those around them deal with the spiritual fallout from that tragedy or damaging circumstance. We have been called, because we are the closest.

Look at the last part of Proverbs 27:10

Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.

Back in Deuteronomy 21:9 we read:

 So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

It is the solemn duty of those believers that are near to trajedy, heartache, and turmoil to take responsibility in doing what they can to assist with the spiritual fallout of these unimaginable circumstances. It is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ, offering Scripture, hope, and help for physical need in and after times of distress and difficulty.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Feb 9 13 - The Endgame for a Disciple" on YouTube

The Endgame for a Disciple

Jesus said, "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27

Being a disciple of Jesus is more than showing up at church and hearing the sermon. It is more than helping out in a Sunday school class or singing in the choir. The Biblical concept of discipleship gives us the idea of someone who has to sacrifice in order to be the student of a famous teacher, or the apprentice to a master tradesman.

As I have watched over the years, I have seen many people who would call themselves disciples of Jesus who do not seem to want the same outcomes for their lives as does the One they call their Master.  I have seen some college students who sign up for a class on a lark and have no intention of learning anything or getting anything useful out of that course, and I have seen the same in the spiritual realm. There are thousands who have "signed up." They have prayed the sinners prayer with a sincere desire to have their sins forgiven and escape Hell, but without any desire for the bigger endgame that God had in mind for salvation; that is reconciliation to Him and conformity to Christ.

This is where we come to the point of our thoughts for today. Notice the "endgame" that Paul and Peter describe here.

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

If we are truly going to be disciples of Christ, then we must want for ourselves the same result, the same endgame in life that He wants for us. More specifically we have to want to "know Him" and "follow in His steps." Simply put, this is learning to be like Jesus. These are the things that our Master is trying to teach us; the things He is trying to build into our lives.

And so, part of being a disciple is being in agreement with our Master on what the ultimate objective of our apprenticeship is.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Feb 7 13 - Missing Element in Charity Work" on YouTube

Missing Element of Charity Work

We have all gotten the letters to support good causes. We have all watched television commercials that made us cry and open up our wallets for needs around the world. This is good and noble. However, if the only result of charity is that money is given to help those in need than we have missed the point.

Charity is another word for love. Too often we become involved in charitable giving because it does something for us. That is self love, not a good thing. Either we get involved because charity makes us feel good about ourselves, makes us feel superior to those we are helping, makes us feel like we are doing something for others, or just gives us a break for the next tax season.

When it is boiled down, charity for the Christian is not supposed to be about the giver or the one receiving the gift.

A wise man said that, "We are here for the glory of God and the benefit of someone else." The glory of God, pleasing Him, always has to be first.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

In the above verses, Paul was commending the Macedonian churches for sending a charitable offering to help the Christians at Jerusalem who were struggling with a harsh persecution. Many had lost jobs, homes, inheritances, and were ostracized from their families. They were hurting.

In all of his congratulations, Paul expressed his surprise that they hadn't given in the manner which he expected. Verse five said they "first gave their own selves to the Lord." An amazing principle came into play here; the Macedonians made charity about God first.

A verse in Romans reiterates the principle:

Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

We are involved in charity not to satisfy our need to be needed, not to help those who are less fortunate. We are involved in charity first because God loves those that need help and we love God. If it is not about God then we quickly tire of charity giving and work. Feelings are a fickle motivating factor.

God calls us to help and be a blessing to others. Our involvement in charity, however, has to be God centered not feelings oriented.

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Feb 6 13 - First of All" on YouTube

First of All

1 Timothy 2:1-2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

A few years ago, I reviewed the letters to Timothy and Titus with this question in mind, "What is a preacher supposed to do?" As I read, there were a lot of things that Paul instructed, but this one stood out. He said, "first of all" pray.

We all lead busy lives. There is always somewhere to go, someone to talk to, and something to do. We want the hand of God acting in our lives, but so often we forget to stop and ask Him for his help, strength, and guidance.

My encouragement today is for us not to make prayer our last resort, but rather our first. Before you start the day; before you go into that meeting; before you pick up the kids from school; before you have that conversation take a minute and have a talk with God about it.

God loves us and is concerned about our lives. He is standing at the door knocking, waiting for us to let Him in; not just into our hearts for salvation but into our day-to-day lives.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

First of all, pray.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Feb 5 13 - Keep Your Fingerprints Off of the Future" on YouTube

Get Your Fingerprints Off of the Future

"Futurity is with God. While he lives, man wishes to know what is before him. When he is about to die, he wishes to know what will be after him. All this is vanity; God, because he is merciful, will reveal neither." - Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Ecclesiastes 6:12 For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Psalms 90:9 ...we spend our years as a tale that is told.

We don't get to see the future. Those most arrogant among us may have in their minds that they can shape the future, but this is only an illusion. We make plans, but it is the unforeseen events that colour the canvas of the future. It is the national events like Pearl Harbour, 9/11, Waco, and Columbine, and the private events like the death of a loved one and a cancer diagnosis that, humanly speaking, really alter the course of our future. God is the maestro that conducts the orchestra and he has many instruments at His disposal to accomplish His aim in decades and in generations.

Having said that, it is incumbent upon us to leave for the next generation, as much as is humanly possible, a clean slate and a full library. As we have stated, we don't know what is coming and what things will be like after we are gone from this earth. In retrospect we see that many preachers, Sunday School teachers, and disciplers have left in their wake too much of themselves in their pupils and not enough of what the Bible calls "pure religion" (James 1:27) and Jesus.

Christianity today is weighed down and hindered because well meaning men and women thought that they could predict and even control what came after them "under the sun." Because of this, they endeavoured to put their fingerprints on the future. Today we are challenged with what to do with the generational sins, hangups, pre-concieved notions, hobby horses, policies, and programs that were put firmly in place by largely good men, but men who were misguided about their role in the future. Instead of being nimble to respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit, the call of Scripture, and the need of the world, much of Christianity is sunk in the quicksand of the successes and failures of the past as they ponder, "What would _________ (insert favourite deceased preacher/teacher here) do/say?"

I love tradition and history. I am thrilled to walk an old battlefield, stand behind the pulpit of an orator long gone, or read of God's movements in revivals of the past. One of my favourite quotations is, "If in my lifetime I may be allowed to see further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." But tradition and history are what we have, not who we are. Tradition and history are not our foundation. Jesus is. Tradition and history are simply what those who have come before us have built upon the foundation. Some of their work was the work of master carpenters, other efforts must be torn out. The third bunch of Christian workers were those who built well for their time in history, but what they built back then is either incompatible with, or ineffective in our time and so, must be reworked or replaced.

Because we cannot see what "shall be after (us) under the sun," let me propose a course of action. We must endeavour to pass on a Christianity that, as much as possible, is free from us (ego, opinion, and self) and full of Jesus. The next generation needs a slate that is clean and a library that is full. We must pass on a Christianity based on the Book uncluttered by human bias. Because we don't know the culture, eccentricities, needs, problems, challenges, and tragedies of those who will follow us, we cannot cement in the Christian sub-culture and conciousness our own way of doing things. We can only point to Jesus, the God that spans time, and say, "Ask Him."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Watch "This Sunday at Northside - David's Messed Up Family" on YouTube

Watch "Quiet Talks - Feb 4 13 - The Value of You" on YouTube

Value of You

Today is the last day that the Canadian Mint will be distributing pennies. The penny is being phased out in favour of rounding everything to the nickle. Because of this less than momentous occasion we bring up the topic today of value. Where do things get their value and how do we know how much something is worth.

For the most part value is placed on things by two groups of people, authority figures and manufacturers. The government sets the relative value of the penny compared to the loonie, the painter sets a value on his art, and we go to an appraiser when we want an authoritative appraisal value for an antique. You see, the phrase, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." is accurate. Value is not something that any object has intrinsically. Value is placed upon an object (or a person) by an authority or the manufacturer.

In our case God is both the authority and the manufacturer. Only He can set our value. And He has! We are so valuable that He calls us His children. He keeps track of every tear we cry and counts every hair that is on (or in the case of some, off) our heads. Our value then, is not derived from what others think of us, or even what we think of ourselves. Our value is set by the One who made us.

Luke 12:7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

And so today, don't let the opinions of others or your own feelings of inadequacy overshadow the fact that you are a person of impressive value; a value that has been set by God that no one and no feeling can take away.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Simplicity of Following Jesus

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Following Jesus is not always easy, but God has made it so that it is simple for us to grasp. Even the children get it.

Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

 Psalms 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Matthew 21:16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

As adults, we tend to complicate things. I figured this out when I got married. Picking colours to paint our walls was a challenge. No longer was it blue or pink. Now every shade and variant had a name. Smokey Yellow and Cookie Monster Blue were two of the strangest I saw. 

Now it is okay if they want to complicate paint buying for me, but please don't complicate Christianity. That is not what Jesus would have wanted. He made it simple enough for a child to understand. He boiled it down to two rules.

Luke 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

And so, don't accept a complicated view of Christianity. Its simple, not always easy to live, but simple to understand. Jesus made it that way for all to understand. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Mule

Psalm 32:9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

The mule in Old Testament times was not simply a sideshow at a petting zoo, but was considered to be a valued and noble animal.

Kings rode on mules. 1 Kings 1:33 The king (David) also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon:

Mules were given to kings as gifts.1 Kings 10:25 And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.

Mules carried burdens and messages.2 Kings 5:17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. and Esther 8:10 And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:

 It is in Psalm 32:9, however, that we see some not so wonderful qualities of the mule. It tells us that the mule has no understanding, not natural or innate wisdom. Stubbornness also is referred to in the reference to the necessity of the use of a bit and bridle for the mule. Without that bit and bridle the mule would not naturally come when called or be directed by the master.

There are a good many comparisons here for us as believers. We are not here for ourselves, but for the service of our master the King. The Bible tells us that we are gifts to our King. (Rom 12:1-2) At times we must carry burdens, and always we carry a message from our King to others. The problem is that we, like the mules of old, are stubborn. We only have wisdom when we look to our Master for direction, and if we had our own way we would wander off not heeding the Master's loving call.

As you can see, there are good and troubling aspects to God's comparison of us with the mule. May we exemplify the best in this comparison.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Jan 31 13 - The Perversion of Liberty and Freedom" on YouTube

The Perversion of Liberty and Freedom

The Bible tells us that we have freedom and liberty in the Christian life given to us by the grace of God.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

 Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 

There are several Bible preachers and teachers out there today who make a good living making people feel good about their sin under the guise of freedom, liberty, and grace. These three concepts they have wrenched from the context of scripture and attached their own ideas to them. Because of these teachers we have people who justify their lying, cheating, drinking, worldliness, immorality, partying, and the like by saying, "I'm free in Christ! I can do whatever I want!" Yes, as the bride of Christ we, the church are free to leave Him for an adulterous relationship with the world and our former slave owner, satan, but that doesn't make our actions right or pleasing to God.

This is so far from what Jesus wanted and from what Paul taught it is deplorable. 

Let's look at the Bible. That is supposed to be our rule, right?

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

So the idea of "living your life so that uptight Christians will doubt your salvation" is unbiblical.

What about the freedom part? Well, the Bible does tell us that we are free to sin or serve, to rebel or live righteously, but don't for a minute think that God is happy when we choose to walk in darkness back toward our old slave owner.

Galatians 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Does our liberty have limits that God has asked us to impose upon ourselves? Yes!

 1 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

1 Corinthians 10:29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?

 Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

 Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

 1 Peter 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness (wrong doing), but as the servants of God. 

Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 

And so, in the end we learn that the freedom and liberty given to us by the grace of God should not be abused. Someone who uses liberty to excuse their sinful behaviour is simply lying to themselves, and standing in open rebellion against a Saviour who loved them enough to set them free.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Jan 30 13 - The Advantages of Climbing Mountains" on YouTube

The Advantages of Climbing Mountains

Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.

Much preaching is done on the verse that says, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matt 17:20) However, Jesus did not intend for us to remove every mountain from our lives. Some mountains He has put there or allowed to be placed there for us to climb. Notice the verse from Amos chapter four. It tells us, among other things that God has made the mountains and that he walks on the high places of the earth, the mountains. If God made them, and He  is there on the mountain, doesn't it make sense that we should want to become mountain climbers?

Now I know that mountains in our life are mostly no fun at all. Mountains of circumstance, difficulty, and challenge seem insurmountable and futile. However, if God has put that mountain in our life and He is on the mountain with us, it seems much more bearable...even profitable.

In the Bible mountains were at times:

  • A Refuge in Danger  - Sometimes God asks us to climb mountains to avoid the flash flood that is filling  the valley! -  Matthew 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
  • A Place for Pasture - Along the slopes and on the plateaus of the mountain are well watered pastures for the nutrition of His flock. -   Psalms 147:8 Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. 
  • A Place for Worship - It is on the hard climb of the mountain that we listen and worship by faith. Remember Abraham?  Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Jan 25 13 - The Value of a Pig's Life" on YouTube

The Value of a Pig's Life

All life has value, but all life does not have equal value. One of the lies that Satan has promoted over the years is the idea that the life of a plant, a tree, a bird, or a pig is equal in value to the life of a human being. This idea has mostly taken root because of Darwinistic evolution and it's erroneous teachings. The concept of this faulty theory is that if we all came from the same place (the big bang and evolution) then all life is equal in value.

We must be able to discern the difference between the truth and a lie. God created us and He takes care of all life in His creation. Look at Matthew 6:26. It says, "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"

God cares for even the smallest animal in His creation, the sparrow. However, man is of more worth than the sparrow. That's what the word "better" means in the above verse.

Notice it again in Matthew 10:3, "Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."

And it's not just birds that have life that is less valuable than mankind. Check out Matthew 12:11-13 "And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other."

In these verses Jesus heals on the Sabbath day saying that a man is "better" or of more value than a sheep.

And so we learn that the life of an animal, although valuable does not have the same value as the life of a person.

What is the value of the life of a pig? Hey, the pig is a noble animal of limitless value as far as I am concerned, and bacon goes with anything.
Have a happy day.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Jan 26 13 - The Moth's House" on YouTube

The House of the Moth

Job 27:13 This is the portion of a wicked man...
Job 27:18 He buildeth his house as a moth, and as a booth (a lean to) that the keeper (of the vineyard) maketh.

The moth's house is an interesting study in the frailty of humanity and our lack of security without God.

An interesting comparison between the moth and the wicked man is that the moth, unlike the butterfly, is primarily nocturnal. The Bible says:
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

But the house of the moth is our topic for the day. The only time the moth has a house (besides the cocoon) is in the egg and larvae stages. Of course, the eggs are laid in clothing and when they hatch the larvae eats the  clothing. Here are some thoughts in regard to the house of the moth / the wicked.

1. The security of the house is tenuous. It only takes someone to come by and shake out the garment and the larvae/moth loses it's home.
2. At very best the larvae/moth's home is temporary.
3. The home (security) of the larvae/moth comes at the expense of someone else. The moth does not make it's home in something of it's own construction, but rather takes up residence in the clothes (the work) of others.
4. The larvae/moth ends up eating itself out of house and home. The larvae actually eat that cloth in which they are residing. This is an astounding picture of those that are doing damage to themselves and are blissfully unaware of their own impending homelessness (lack of security).

Also interesting, is that the colour of their cocoon is dependent upon the colour of cloth that they were eating. In other words, the character of their first home (the cloth) is displayed in the structure of their second home. A fresh start without Christ is a misnomer. You always bring you with you wherever you go to start again, and the colour of the second house will reflect the insufficiency of the first. The only way to get a fresh start is by becoming a new man. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

So today, we can either have the house that the moth built, or build our house securely upon Christ.
Luke 6:48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Quiet Talks - Jan 25 13 - Can We Make God's Life Better?

Can We Make God's Life Better?

Job 22:2-3 Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?

Eliphaz the Temenite here is asking Job if somehow he is improving God's existence by Job's righteous works and effort. We sometimes have the same idea. We imagine that God is somehow better off, more fulfilled, more complete because we are doing things for Him.

The simple truth is that God doesn't need us, even to spread the Gospel. Jesus said that if the disciples didn't proclaim the Gospel that the stones would do it.
Luke 19:40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Job 22:2 asks if we can be profitable to God in the same way that a wise man is profitable to himself. How is that? A wise man profits himself by acting wisely and increasing his own worth. Do we really imagine that there is anything that we can do that can increase the worth of God? Certainly not. Do we really think that God is deficient in some area and we can complete Him? No.

Adam Clark's Commentary on this verse says, " A man may be profitable to a man, but no man can profit his Maker. He has no interest in thy conduct; he does not punish thee because thou hast offended and deprived him of some good. Thy iniquities are against justice, and justice requires thy punishment."

In our own arrogance, pride, and self importance we have the idea that somehow we are doing something for God that will profit Him. We cannot. He is complete, in need of nothing. He doesn't need our love, our worship, or our work. However we do these things in order to please Him.

One of my favourite sayings is, "For the Glory of God and the Benefit of Someone Else."

We do not benefit God by our actions and efforts, we benefit others and give the glory to God.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Watch "Quiet Talks - Jan 24 13 - The Purpose of Mankind" on YouTube

The Purpose of Mankind

Why am I here? What is my purpose? These are questions that go to the very foundation of our existence. As much as we may try to complicate things with our own emotions and reasoning, the Bible gives a pretty straightforward answer.

First, we were created for God, not for ourselves.
Proverbs 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself:

Second, we were created to please God, not ourselves.
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

These two facts impact our priorities. If we are truly here for God and to please God then our own ambitions, plans, hopes, and dreams have to be subject to Him. If pleasing God is first priority, then there are some things that I am going to do differently, and some things that I am not going to do at all.

There is no need to wallow in introspection wondering, "What am I here for, and where do I fit in?" Notice that God did not come up in those questions? When our focus is "I" problems come along like the caboose to a freight train. Our Creator made us for Himself. Fulfillment in life comes when we strive to accomplish our purpose....pleasing Him.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Test of Money Video

Watch "Quiet Talks - Jan 23 13 - The Test of Money" on YouTube

The Test of Money

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

 A wise man once said, "It isn't a problem if you have money, the problem comes when your money has you." But how do we know whether we are leaning too much on the security of our money? How do we know when we have wrapped up too much of our own self worth in the balance of our bank accounts?

At this point, the bulk of those reading this post are saying, "Not a problem. I don't have any money!"

Whether an individual has one dollar in the bank or one hundred thousand the question is still relevant. "What hold does your money have on you?" 

Jesus put this same question to the rich young ruler in Luke 18. Jesus told him to "...sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." The thing Jesus was getting at with this fellow was that his view of his wealth was keeping him from trusting in Jesus for salvation. The broader application for us is that unless we are willing to worship Jesus instead of our money we really aren't following Jesus.

One of the reasons God gives us money is to test our love for Him. If at any time in our life we aren't willing to give up all of our material possessions and money to follow Him (if He asks) then our money is in control not our Saviour. We need money to live, but we must remember that life is not in money. 

John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Living Martyr

Today I read in my devotions from Mark 10 where a couple of disciples wanted Jesus to put them in prominent positions in his government when He set up what they assumed would be an earthly Kingdom. He then asked them if they were willing to go through what He would. (He meant the cross.) They readily (and ignorantly) agreed that they were up to the challenge. He told them that they indeed would go through the same ordeal as He would.

The topic today is martyrdom. In John 16:2 Jesus said that the very people that would come to kill the Apostles would do so while thinking that they, the murderers, were serving God.

Today in our comfortable and affluent North American life, martyrdom is the furthest thing from the Christian's mind. He is so caught up with accumulating things, enjoying leisure, family, work, and even church that living a life of sacrifice is not even on his radar screen.

Jesus told us in Matthew 16:24-25,  "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."

We are called to be martyrs. It is easy for us to think of dying for Christ because it is only a remote possibility at this time. It is much harder to determine each day that we are going to be a living sacrifice. (Rom 12:1)

The concept of the living martyr is found in:
Colossians 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Notice the bold, and underlined words "for ye are dead." The one time choice to die for Christ is comparatively easy when placed in contrast to deciding every day to wholeheartedly live for Him.

Today God is calling us to live the life of a martyr...dead to self, alive unto God.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Motivation for Missions

Every christian has been called by God to be a missionary. We are His Ambassadors.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

It is not just those that have surrendered to foreign missions. God has called every Christian to share the love of Jesus and the good news of the cross of Christ with others in the place He has put each individual. Your school, your workplace, or your retirement village is your mission field.

The question of the day is, however, "What is our motivation?" Do we simply witness because we feel guilty if we don't? Do we tell others of Jesus just because we feel sorry for them that they may wind up spending eternity without God in a place called Hell? These may be reasons, but they are not sufficient motivation to keep us on the job as ambassadors for Him.

The Bible gives us a deeper, more profound motivation. That is, God's love for us. The more we understand His love for us, the more we will respond to that love in telling others about it. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."

The father does not really care much about his daughter's doll. But if that doll goes missing, he will search until it is found. This is not because he loves the doll. It is because he loves the child. We do not love other people enough for them to be our motivation. We search for the lost and tell them of salvation because God loves them.

Living a missional life (missionary life) is a response of the heart to an understanding of the love of God.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Defeating Giants

The account of David and Goliath is a familiar one. Here are a few thoughts concerning defeating giants in our lives. Please read I Samuel 17

1. If we are going to go into battle we have to leave our baggage behind. Verse 22 talks about David's carriage. This was not a horse drawn buggy, but rather the things that he "carried"...his baggage.

2. We have to be willing to come face to face with the giant. We cannot win the battle by ignoring the enemy. We have to face reality. Vs 23

3. Our motivation has to be bigger than ourselves. In verses 26 and 45 David cites his nation and the reputation of Jehovah as his reason for challenging the giant. Our personal agendas, preferences, and desires are not sufficient motivation in the fight. It has to be about the bigger picture.

4. Have faith. David was dependent upon God. See verses 37 and 46.

5. Be yourself. God has given you what you need to win over your giants. There is no need to try to use someone else's personality, abilities, or strengths. Verses 38-40

6. Ignore negativity. Giants holler and offend. That's what they do. You just have to ignore that. Verse 42

7. Count on a miracle. Once David had done all he could, he let go of the stone. At that point it was all in God's ballpark. Goliath was defeated because David obeyed and God came through with a miracle.

Now go fight the giants.