But Deliver Us From Evil: Understanding the spirit-world battle you’re already in
May 12, 2019
What do you mean about a “spirit-world battle”? I know, I know. To a lot of people, it sounds pretty crazy. It sounded crazy to me for a long time too.
I get asked about demons, angels, and Satan a lot. High-schoolers to senior-homers are curious. People wonder, ‘Is all this stuff for real?’ ‘Does it just reflect a prescientific understanding of things?’ ‘Why did Jesus talk about the Devil and demons so much?’
Great questions. Truth is, we don’t talk about it as much as we should. As a result, many of us are in the dark. And much of what we do know is influenced by strange things we see in popular culture and Hollywood movies.
In this podcast (sermon) I talk about why this topic has become less popular, encourage us to take the Devil and the demonic realm seriously, and provide four pieces of clear, understandable help for being Jesus’ people of truth and love in a world where evil is very much real.
It is based on Luke 4:1-11. And let me just tell you that there is no need to fear. The podcast is Part 4 in our current teaching series called “Apprenticeship 2.0: Working more closely with the Master to learn the Master’s craft more clearly.”
Imagine yourself playing football with God as your quarterback. But the other team simply isn’t there! You think that scoring touchdowns is going to be easy. But then you start the game and you can’t score—you keep running into roadblocks and frustrations for some reason. You start to think that either (a) you’re incompetent, or (b) your quarterback (God) is incompetent. But then someone tells you that there is in fact an opponent; it’s just that you can’t see them. Up until now you’ve just been misled. In response, you learn more about the opponent and properly equip yourself for a new kind of battle—a battle you can win if you are simply properly informed. That’s what happens when we take the spiritual warfare and the spirit-world seriously, and equip ourselves accordingly.
The podcast is called: “But deliver us from evil: Understanding the spirit-world battle you’re already in.” Listen in.
The Cardinal Virtue
May 5, 2019
We all know that love is important, right? Jesus tells us to love God with our whole being, and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:28-34). In 1 Corinthians 13: 13 we are famously reminded, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Plus, Jesus even tells us to love our enemies! (Matthew 5:43-48)
And yup, that can be hard to do! But a part of the reason it’s so hard is because of our pride, ego and naturally selfish ways. In fact, hundreds of years ago, the church Father Augustine called pride the core sin.
That’s why we need to intentionally cultivate the cardinal virtue: Humility.
In this podcast (sermon) from May 5, 2019 at Westminster Church in Barrie, I explore Mark 8: 34-38 and Mark 12:28-34 and explain what humility is, what biblical love is, why humility lays the groundwork for living ethically as Jesus’ people of love, and four practical suggestions to help get us there.
It’s Part 3 in our current teaching series called “Apprenticeship 2.0: Working more closely with the Master to learn the Master’s craft more clearly.”
I think you should listen in. After all, anything less than what Jesus wants for us is an unworthy focus for our lives.
Heaven and Hell, Part 4: Who goes where? (And who decides?)
January 27, 2019
We’ve been talking about heaven and hell. In short, heaven is incredible and hell is horrible. We should all want to go to one and not the other.
But who goes where? In other words, what makes someone right with God and given a place in heaven, and what makes someone wrong with God and therefore banished from his presence after they die?
And who decides these things?
Wow, those are huuuuge questions!
So on January 27th I explore the biblical teachings. In this sermon podcast I address questions like, ‘Do all good people go to heaven?’ ‘Is hell just reserved for the ‘ultra wicked’?’ ‘What makes you acceptable to God?’ ‘Is heaven something you have to earn?’ ‘How does Jesus fit into all this?’ ‘How do we talk about this with people who don’t believe?’
These are some of the most important questions you will ever explore. Let’s journey together and do our best to live wisely—not based on what we want to be true, but on what actually is.
Heaven and Hell, Part 3: What is hell like?
January 20, 2019
Last week we asked what heaven was like. But on January 20th, we explored what is perhaps one of the most difficult questions of all: What is hell like?
Speaking about hell, C.S. Lewis wrote: “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.”
It’s not pleasant. But it’s vital that we talk about it. Why? Because Jesus did! And consider this: Jesus loves you too much to lie to you. If we choose to avoid the teachings about hell, we’re choosing to avoid the teachings of Jesus.
In this sermon our pastor debunks three untruths about hell, and then asks (and answers), ‘What is hell?’ ‘What is hell like?’ And, ‘What is hell for?’ He does so in a way that tries to honour the challenging and complicated nature of the subject.
The sermon is called “What is hell like?” Let’s journey together and do our best to live wisely—not based on what we want to be true, but on what actually is.
Heaven and Hell, Part 2: What is heaven like?
January 13, 2019
Unless you’re a robot, you’ve probably thought about what heaven is like. After all, all of us are one heartbeat away from death.
Will we meet God? What will we do?
Plus, we all have loved ones who have died who we hope are in heaven. If so, what is it like for them? Are they really experiencing joy? Are they aware of what goes on down here on earth?
The bottom line is that heaven is better than we could imagine — and the Bible gives us some awesome insights about what to expect. Think of your best experience in this life. In heaven, by comparison, even those things that have brought us incredible joy and peace on earth will seem boring by comparison.
In this sermon our pastor first debunks four untruths about heaven (no, it’s not like a boring extended vacation somewhere). Next he highlights several incredible truths about what the Bible actually teaches about the nature of heaven.
If you’re not hungry for heaven, you’ve been misinformed. It is a place all of us should want to go! And it’s a place all of us should want other people to go to as well.
Listen in! The message is part 2 of the “Heaven and Hell” series and is called “What is heaven like?”
Heaven and Hell, Part 1: How do we know?
January 6, 2019
A Gallup poll revealed that 81% of people believe in heaven, but only 69% believe in hell. We like to believe in things we like, like heaven; but not in things we don’t, like hell, right?
But, speaking about final judgment in Matthew 25 Jesus said that some people will “go into eternal life,” but others “will go away into eternal punishment.”
On January 6 at Westminster we began a new 5-part teaching series called “Heaven and Hell – What does the Bible teach about what is true (instead of what we want to be true).”
Have YOU ever wondered what heaven is like, or what hell is like? Have you ever wondered what Jesus teaches about these things? Have you ever wondered who goes where? If so, journey with us through this series called “Heaven and Hell.”
Part 1 lays out the entire series and focuses on the question ‘How do we know?’
We are to live wisely—not based on what we want to be true, but on what actually is.
Listen in. Part 1 is called “How do we know?” This may be one of the most important topics you ever explore.
December 24, 2018
But is it true?
Christmas Eve is a special time. After the presents have been bought and plans have been made, we gather to sing carols by candlelight and ponder the significance of the birth of Christ.
On December 24th at the 7pm service at Westminster in Barrie, Pastor Ruttan helps us do just that by sharing a 16-minute message called “But is it true?”
Let’s be honest. We live in a world of skepticism. Can we trust what the Bible says? Is Jesus really who it says he is? Did that old story really happen? Is this “good news” good for us, or just for someone else?
How we answer matters. Why? Because what you think is true shapes your life and defines your legacy.
So, as you think about the arrival of Jesus, and the announcement that he is good news for all people, do you think that statement is true… or not? It’s a question we all have to answer at some point or another. And it can impact our life and legacy in a way that nothing else can.
C.S. Lewis has said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” So listen in. The message is called, “But is it true?”
December 9, 2018
If You Claim to Have a Life-Changing Faith
Sometimes we need a bigger perspective—a higher perspective. Here’s why.
The word “repentance” can seem like a big bad words in today’s world where many people live by the mantra, ‘Just do whatever makes you happy!’
But repentance, when understood correctly, actually brings more joy, more abundance, and more goodness into our lives (not less).
So on December 9 at Westminster we explored how. It can actually make your Advent and Christmas more…
In this 28-minute message you’ll be given some encouragement, a challenge, and an invitation, all on the heels of John the Baptist’s teaching to “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
[ The 1-page handout that was referenced can be downloaded here: 2018 12 meaningful insert half ]
The message is called “If you claim to have a life-changing faith.” Listen in here!
December 2, 2018
Repentance for Dummies
Unfortunately, one of the things that characterizes Advent and Christmas for a lot of people is what I call the Holly Jolly Hurricane — a hurricane of busyness, expense and disappointment!
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Instead, we can prepare for the birth of Christ and God re-entering into our lives in a new and powerful way in a way that is MEANINGFUL.
One of the ways we can do this is by taking seriously the unpopular-and-much-neglected-but-still-essential process of repentance.
On December 2nd, 2018 at Westminster we explored the powerful words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-12 and four things we can do to prepare for the arrival of Christ in a meaningful way.
Wouldn’t it be great if on December 25th you were able back at your Advent and Christmas and think to yourself, ‘Wow, that was meaningful’?
You can. The message is called “Repentance for Dummies.” Listen in to the 26-minute podcast.
November 25, 2018
Being Steady for Someone When Times Get Tough
Being a person of your word matters. In fact, we could argue that, regardless of ethnicity, language, financial situation or background, people value honesty.
And yet, it seems like we live in an age of verbal mistrust. So many people break promises that it doesn’t even surprise us anymore.
That’s why we’re having a teaching series called “My Word – How to be a person of your word in a world of verbal mistrust.”
In Part 1 we explored keeping your promises. In Part 2 on November 25th, we explored the impact that being trustworthy makes. We look at a section of Psalm 119 and ask how we can be steady for someone when times get tough — and it’s all connected to being a person of your word.
So, do you want to be a person of your word in a world of verbal mistrust? Do you want people to think you’re someone who can be trusted to keep confidences, promises, and steady when times get tough? If so, listen in. The message is called “Being steady for someone when times get tough.”
November 18, 2017
People Who Keep Their Promises
Before the world of contracts and fine print, do you remember hearing about agreements that were made on the shake of a hand? Remember when someone could be trusted “at their word”? Nowadays, that seems rare. We live in an age of verbal mistrust. So many people break promises that it doesn’t even surprise us anymore.
So we’re starting a new teaching series called “My Word – How to be a person of your word in a world of verbal mistrust.” There are 4 premises to this series: 1. That your word matters. 2. That we live in a world of verbal mistrust. 3. That the Bible has something relevant and powerful to teach us. 4. That being a person of your word positively impacts and helps the people around you.
In fact, trustworthy people can be trusted to keep confidences, promises, and steady when times get tough.
Part 1 at Westminster on November 18, 2018 was called “People who keep their promises.” Do you want to be a person of your word? Do you want people to think you’re someone who can be trusted to keep confidences, promises, and steady when times get tough? If so, listen in.
November 11, 2018
How The Prince of Peace Brings Peace Through His People
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that brought ceasefire to World War One at 11 a.m. on November 11th, 1918 (11-11-11). It was, they said, the “war to end all wars.” But, as we know, it was not the war to end all wars. In fact, some have argued that the 100 years that have passed since that time have been the 100 bloodiest years in human history.
In light of all this, on November 11th at Westminster our key question was this: How do we truly remember and honour those who have died in the horrors of war? One way is to lay wreaths, say prayers, wear poppies and thank veterans. Those are good things.
But another is to be proactive about being people of peace.
We looked at the prophecy of Isaiah 9: 2-7, and explored four ways that we can be people of peace today based on the four titles given to Jesus. Everyone seems to like the idea of peace. But what are you doing personally to help get us there?
November 4, 2018
Why is the “good news” good for you?
If someone were to ask you what the “good news” or “gospel” of Christianity was, what would you say?
The good news (also sometimes translated as “gospel”) is central to the faith, but it is also frequently misrepresented. Is it that God loves you? Well, it’s true that God loves you, but it’s not the total good news. Is it that Jesus died to forgive your sins? Again, that’s a true statement, but it’s not the total good news.
On November 4 at Westminster, we looked more closely at what the good news actually is, and several biblical texts to uncover three reasons why the good news is in fact good news for you personally (and for all of us collectively). Some things you might expect to hear — others, maybe not so much.
N. T. Wright says it like this: “Get the gospel right, and everything else will come right.” Listen in!
October 28, 2018
When we hear the word “idolatry,” many of us think of ancient peoples bowing down to man-made statues. Because of that, none of us think it’s a problem for us. But we may need to think again. Why? Because our understanding of idolatry is way too narrow.
On October 28th at Westminster, we explored Deuteronomy 4:14-24 and the idea that idolatry is giving first place priority to something or someone who isn’t God. In light of that, your home can be an idol, your income can be an idol, your ‘success’ can be an idol, your family can be an idol, your “likes” can be an idol, your body can be an idol…
We discussed how modern idolatry can hold you back and three ways to discern your own idols. The message is called “Christian Idolaters?” Listen in!
October 14, 2018
Ready for the Return of Christ?
“Jesus is coming back soon — look busy!” That was a bumper sticker I once saw. It made me laugh! And although busyness isn’t the issue (faithfulness is), it reminded me of something vital: That we need to strive to live in a certain way as we await the incredible day when Jesus comes back to judge the world, end all evil and pain, and make all things new.
On October 14 at Westminster we talked about this through the lens of Matthew 25:14-30. It teaches us not just to wait for Jesus, but to work for Jesus. God gives each of us specific things of value in our lives which we are to use and steward wisely, things which in turn add value to other people’s lives. Listen in to learn what, why and how. The message is called: “Ready for the Return of Christ?”
October 7, 2018
Mental Health and the Role Gratitude Plays
Mental health is something we don’t talk about as much as we should. There’s a lot of stigma. Some people think that physical well-being is simply more important. (You can see a broken leg, but you can’t see a mental bruise.)
But did you realize that by the age of forty, about 50% of people in Canada will have or have had a mental illness? Because there’s so much misunderstanding, there can also be denial… and guilt… and even blame…
So on Thanksgiving Sunday, we talked about the role that gratitude plays in mental health — from a scientific perspective, and even more importantly, from a biblical one.
So if you want to improve your mental health, and if you want to set yourself up for better health in the future, this message is for you. As Max Lucado says, “God doesn’t just want your whole heart; he wants your heart whole.”
September 30, 2018
Convenience or Obedience?
I’m a naturally skeptical person. Maybe you are too. And yet, Christianity is based on a miracle—Jesus rising from the dead. Even if you concede that miracles may have happened in the past, maybe you’re not sure they happen in the present—and certainly not in your own life.
For four weeks we’ve been learning about miracles. In Part 4 on September 30th we explored the life-changing difference it makes on a day-to-day basis. As a part of that we looked at Ephesians 3:14-21, and were again blessed by the insights of Will Han—pastor, church planter, and the Executive V.P. of Lausanne Movement Canada.
The message speaks about the impact of living in a culture of convenience, how to dial into God’s power on a daily basis, and envisioning your own future alongside an almighty and loving God. It’s called “Convenience or Obedience?” Listen in and be both challenged and inspired. [Sermon to be posted by 2pm on September 30.]
September 23, 2018
Hanging by a thread (When miracles DON’T happen)
Have you ever prayed for a miracle and it didn’t happen? Have you ever wondered why God didn’t act? Have you ever been told that you just didn’t believe enough? In these moments we can feel very alone or angry or disillusioned—as if God’s apparent silence meant (or means) that he doesn’t care… or maybe isn’t even real.
If you’ve ever had those thoughts, Part 3 in the Miracles series is for you. In this message from September 23, we dispel one of the biggest myths about why miracles don’t happen, and then dive into some of the theoretical reasons about why some miracles might not happen, and also some of the practical down-to-earth considerations to keep in mind in the midst of struggle.
The message is called “Hanging by a thread (When miracles DON’T happen).” Listen in! Be challenged and inspired.
September 16, 2018
Is God Actually God?
When you open the Bible, you won’t be reading for long before you run into miracles. A man lives inside the belly of a huge fish, water is turned into wine, the blind receive their sight. In today’s world, there’s a lot of skepticism. I get that. Some people think that miracles may have happened a long time ago, but doubt they happen today.
That’s the background to our new teaching series about miracles. Think about your own life for a moment. Think about the kind of existence you lead on a day-to-day basis, and how, if miracles are real, it can change your outlook, and your relationship with God.
On September 16th we had Part 2. In it we explored what the scientific community has to say about the miraculous (it might surprise you), and also how miracles occur in the biblical stories. The podcast is called “Is God Actually God?” and will be posted at 2pm on September 16th. Listen in! Be challenged and inspired.
September 9, 2018
God’s Miracles Follow God’s Mission
When you read the Bible miracles are all over the place. Moses hears from God at a bush that isn’t burned up, water is turned into wine, and corpses come back to life.
And if we’re honest, there’s a lot of skepticism. A lot of people discount the miraculous. And a lot of people think that miracles may have happened a long time ago, but doubt they happen today.
That’s why I started a new teaching series on September 9th about miracles on September 9th.
For Part 1 I interviewed Will Han, a serial church planter, pastor, and the Executive VP of Lausanne Movement Canada. He’s also a good friend of mine!
He speaks about his own skepticism, but also the mind-blowing healings he’s been a part of while on mission. Part 1 is all about considering possibility…
The podcast is called “God’s miracles follow God’s mission.” Listen in! Be challenged and inspired.
September 2, 2018
Alt-Right? Alt-Left?–and Jesus
We live in polarizing and controversial times. Race riots make the news, Google and Facebook are accused of suppressing speech and certain voices they disagree with, there’s the controversial sex-ed curriculum debate, ‘identity politics’ is seemingly on the rise, environmental laws seem to get railroaded for economic gain, there are random shootings in schools and malls and public places, and subsequent debates about gun control. Should I go on?
Part of the problem with these hot-button issues is that there is so much rhetoric and spin. Plus, the internet has given people louder voices and bigger platforms to convince you that their ideas are the right ones. And it sometimes seems that everyone wants to be right so badly that they malign or slander everyone who doesn’t agree with them.
So our main question at Westminster on September 2nd was this: In light of extremism, information overload, rhetoric and spin, how do we know the truth and act in a Christ-centred way?
Listen in the podcast to find out what we ended up. The message is called “Alt Right? Alt Left?—And Jesus.”
July 29, 2018
Is the point of life to be a good person?
Is the point of life to be a good person? That’s certainly what a lot of people think. And it’s not like there isn’t SOME truth in that statement—there is. But it certainly isn’t the WHOLE truth. If we think it is, we’re actually leading ourselves toward a less joyful and less meaningful life.
This is what we discussed in Part 3 of our current teaching series: “Oops! – Half-truths we believe, how they hurt us, and how biblical truth can get us back on track.” On July 29th at Westminster we explored John 17, some of the malaise of modern society, and what the point of life actually is.
July 22, 2018
Are followers of Jesus supposed to have it all together?
Are followers of Jesus supposed to “have it all together”? That was today’s question as a part of our latest teaching series: “Oops! – Half-truths we believe, how they hurt us, and how biblical truth can get us back on track.”
Some people think they do in fact have it all together. Some know they don’t… but feel bad about it. Some know they don’t and worry that they come across as hypocrites to their friends and family. Some pretend to be perfect because they don’t want other people to think they’re weak or a fake.
So yes, it’s kind of a mess.
On July 22 we dove into these issues by taking a close look at Matthew 5 and Romans 3. The truth is surprisingly liberating, down-to-earth, and good for you and me.
July 15, 2018
God Loves You As You Are, But…
Have you ever tried to go somewhere with only half a map? Have you ever tried to assemble a BBQ with basic picture prompts but instructions that were in a different language? Have you ever tried to study for a test with a text book that is 6 editions out of date? If so, you’ll know that having some of the information isn’t the same as having all of the information.
That’s why on July 15 we started a new 3-part series called “Oops! – Half-truths we believe, how they hurt us, and how biblical truth can get us back on track.”
In Part we talked about this statement: “God loves and accepts you just as you are.” It’s true… but it’s not the whole picture. Coming to a wider understanding of God’s love helps you live more faithfully, more abundantly, and more fully in-sync with God’s meaningful design for your life.
Listen in and grow more deeply into Jesus words to take up your cross daily and follow him. The message is called “God loves you as you are, but…”
June 24, 2018
Righting Wrongs – Just because something is in the past that doesn’t mean it has passed.
Sometimes there’s something hold you back. Holding you back from moving forward in your life with a greater sense of mental freedom, of peace of mind, and of personal integrity. Quite often that “something holding you back” is some unresolved thing from your past. But just because something is in the past that doesn’t mean it has passed. It can exert a continuing influence in your life and on brain—and not in a good way.
That’s why forgiveness is so important.
This is what we explored on June 24th—but from an angle you maybe haven’t thought of before. Listen in. And move ahead in life with a greater sense of mental freedom, peace of mind, and personal integrity.
June 17, 2018
No Eraser – Re-thinking your difficult circumstances for a stronger, wiser, and more faithful you
Who do we become when life gets hard?
No matter how you answer, it think we can all agree that difficult circumstances shape us. Sometimes in a good way, and sometimes in a not-so-good way.
The key is to approach our difficult circumstances with God’s help, with a biblical perspective, and in a way that will grow you forward through the process.
You always want to use your current circumstances to build a future you who is stronger, wiser, and more faithful and effective for life’s battles.
Through the lens of Romans 5:1-5 this is what we explored on June 17th at Westminster. The message is called “No Eraser – Re-thinking your difficult circumstances for a stronger, wiser, and for faithful and effective future you.” I think it will be helpful and hopeful for you. Listen in!
June 10, 2018
Sponge – Seeking, seeing and absorbing God in your daily thoughts
“Matthew, I just don’t always feel connected to God in my daily life.” I often hear some version of this statement. And do you want to know the truth? If that’s an experience you can relate to, you’re not alone.
But just because you don’t feel connected, doesn’t mean you can’t be.
On June 10 at Westminster we explored our thought life. Given the fact that we humans are wildly impressionable, how we cultivate and organize our thoughts on a daily basis have a massive influence on our relationship with God. So we explored three major influencers in our thought life — three influencers that can help you feel more connected to God, or which can make you feel less connected… depending on how you approach them.
This very practical message is called “Sponge — Seeking, seeing and absorbing God in your daily thoughts.” Listen in! And grow.
June 3, 2018
God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle — Really?
“Hey, I know you’re going through a tough time right now, but don’t worry. God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
‘God won’t give you more than you can handle’ is one of those things people say. Many think it’s in the Bible. But it’s not. It’s actually a misleading statement which undermines what the Bible teaches about God’s character and frustrates your attempts to improve your difficult situation.
On June 3 at Westminster we debunked this popular expression, looked at Psalm 121, and asked (and answered) the question, ‘How is God active in the midst of my troubles.’
The 25-minute message is called ‘God doesn’t give you more than you can handle – Really?’ Listen in!
May 27, 2018
Less Is More
Welcome to the world of Bigger-Better-More! “You want it! You deserve it! Go for it!“… (even if you can’t afford it).
It’s easy to get sucked in, isn’t it? But unfortunately, drinking the Kool-Aid of instant gratification draws us into a lifestyle of living beyond our means…
Which complicates our lives.
On May 27th at Westminster we explored this train of thought with a message called “Less Is More.” By exploring some of the modern changes in our society that make it easier to live beyond our means and complicate our lives, as well as some biblical passages, we explored how contentment and trusting in God to actually provide for you leads to a simpler life. Listen in!
May 20, 2018
Do you ever get tired? Do you ever get irritated? Put them together and you’re “tirritated”! Yup, I just made up a word. But it makes sense, doesn’t it?
Life can get complicated and overwhelming. And if we’re going to simplify our lives so that we can focus on key godly priorities, we need to think clearly. And that’s hard to do if we banish rest from our schedules and busy ourselves as if life itself depended up our every move.
I personally think that’s one of the reasons God COMMANDED us to rest. Unfortunately we treat his powerful wisdom like a fleeting suggestion instead of a command that will bring us closer to God, more joy, clearer thinking and deeper peace.
This is what we talked about on May 20th at Westminster as a part of series called “Simply – How to simplify your life for God’s glory and your sanity.” The message is called “Tirritated” and you can listen in here. Enjoy!
May 13, 2018
Fix Your Gaze
Is it just me or is life getting more complicated? And that can be true no matter how old or young you are. Recently I was talking to a high school student who said they were having trouble keeping their life organized and sane. Then I spoke with a retired person who said they wished they were working again so that they could get a rest!
Unfortunately, our lives are often hijacked by people, priorities and purposes that are of secondary importance. And the simple-but-problematic truth is that many of us struggle with layers of complexity that have somehow crept into our existence and fatigued our souls.
This is what we discussed on Sunday, May 13 at Westminster with a message called “Fix Your Gaze.” It was part of a series called “Simplify: How to simplify your life for God’s glory and your sanity.” So wouldn’t it be great if we could be helped by biblical principles which simplify our lives? That’s the plan! Listen in.
May 6, 2018
A Saviour (Not Sameness)
Is it just me or is community collapsing?
Why do fewer people know their neighbours? Why are fewer people participating in community organizations? Why are some people surrounded by thousands of people but still lonely? What is it getting harder to form deep relationships? Sure, there are signs of people valuing community in our neighbourhoods and towns, but they seem increasingly rare.
These are some of the questions and themes we explored on May 6 at Westminster in Part 2 of a mini-series called “Common Bond – The collapse of community in a consumer world and the call of community in Christ’s.” If you’re concerned about this trend, and if you want to know what to do about it, then these two Sundays are for you.
For the message we explored Romans 15:1-7 and the kind of community we are called to be as a church. It’s not mushy or shallow, but meaningful and biblical. It’s a response to the endangerment of community we see around us. The message is called “A Saviour (Not Sameness).” Listen in!
April 29, 2018
Like Muscles To Your Flesh
Why do fewer people know their neighbours? Why are fewer people participating in community organizations? Why are some people surrounded by thousands of people but still lonely? What is it getting harder to form deep relationships?
These are some of the questions we explored on April 29th at Westminster in Part 1 of a mini-series called “Common Bond – The collapse of community in a consumer world and the call of community in Christ’s.” If you’re concerned about this trend, and if you want to know what to do about it, then this series is for you.
We explored some of the reasons why community bonds are endangered in our society, and also what it means to intentionally be a part of a life-giving community of faith as followers of Jesus. It is easy to miss… but also incredibly vital. The message is called “Like Muscles To Your Flesh.” Listen in!
April 8, 2018
Is There Evidence for the Resurrection? (The Rush of Reason)
“How do I know whether or not the resurrection actually happened?” I remember overhearing someone ask that question once. The reply they received to a legitimate and well-meaning question was something like this: “Well, you just have to believe.” I don’t think that’s a good enough answer.
After all, if we’re supposed to love God with our whole heart, soul, MIND, and strength, our reason should be a contributing factor to our faith, especially when it comes to something as crucial as the resurrection! Reason to your faith is like the walls to your house — it gives it strength, structure, and guards against collapse. This is what we explored at Westminster on April 8th. A few of the answers may surprise you, and I’m pretty sure they’ll strengthen the foundation of your faith. The message is called “Is there evidence for the resurrection? (The rush of reason)” Listen in!
April 1, 2018 (Easter Sunday)
Remember the movie Back to the Future? I think it was so popular because people loved the idea of time travel and guessing what the future would be like.
Well, we don’t know much about flying cars (yet), but we do actually know what the future is going to be like. We know it because of the resurrection. The resurrection gives us insight not only into something that happened, but something that is going to happen. And this information matters more than ever because of the prevailing hopelessness that many people feel in their lives and in our society.
The resurrection of Jesus is a word of Hope for everyone. And it’s also our marching orders! This is what we explored on Easter Sunday at Westminster. The message is called “Be Hope.” Listen in… and step up to the plate.
March 30, 2018 (Good Friday)
The Surprising Generous Exchange
There’s a huge misunderstanding out there that can creep into our thinking. It concerns how we are made right with God, with how we are “saved.” It’s an understandable misunderstanding. After all, a lot of people think it’s true. It’s basically that what makes you right with God, or what “saves” you (both in this life, and what gets you into heaven), is being a good person. But what if I were to tell you that was misguided.
On Good Friday, we explored what it would be like if you stood before God on Judgment Day simply based on your own moral track record, and the true (and surprising, generous) significance of what Jesus did on the cross. Good Friday is called “good” not because of what happened to Jesus, but because of what happened for you. The message is called “The Surprising Generous Exchange.” Listen in!
March 25, 2018
Follow The Leader
If you’re not paying attention to who you’re following, you end up on the wrong path. Christians try to “follow the leader.” They try—in their own broken way—to follow Jesus. But it’s easy for our understanding of Jesus to get distorted. Maybe we only read the Gospel stories we live (and shove aside the ones we don’t). Or maybe we’ve been influenced by the views of friends or family members, but which aren’t rooted in what he actually said and did. So regaining a clear picture of who he actually was, and the kind of King he was (and is), is incredibly important to us. If our understanding of Jesus is distorted, then we end up on the wrong path. But if our understanding is clear, we have a better chance of getting it right, and of being people who faithfully reflect the one we’re trying to follow.
On Palm Sunday (March 25) at Westminster this is what we talked about. We looked closely at John 12, defined true “humility” (with thanks to C.S. Lewis), and offered 5 ideas about how to cultivate real-world humility in our daily lives. When we’re more clear about who Jesus is, we’re more clear about who we can be. The message is called “Follow the Leader.” Enjoy!
March 11, 2018
How do I respond more effectively when someone questions my faith?
“You don’t actually believe in God, do you?” “Why would you read the Bible?” “Why in the world do you go to church?”
Have you ever been asked any of those questions?
Last year I did a survey of topics. Turns out that more of you wanted to know about how to respond more effectively when someone questions your faith, than you did to other huge questions like “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” or even “Why do bad things sometimes happen to good people?” That tells me that many of us often feel overwhelmed and/or unprepared to respond effectively to questions about their faith.
But it doesn’t need to be that way.
On March 11 at Westminster, we offered some help by looking at 1 Peter 3:13-16. We explored five biblical tips to help you respond to questions about what you believe—faithfully and respectfully. You’ll feel more confident (and more prepared) when questions come up. Listen in!
February 25, 2018
What The Floppy Fish Needs
It’s as if “individualism” is air we breathe. Our TV’s, social feeds and radios seem to pump out 24-hour messages about how life is all about YOU. The me-myself-and-I syndrome is hard to escape.
On February 25 at Westminster, we talked about how our culture of pervasive individualism can contaminate our thinking—even our thinking about our faith.
We first explored how individualism can take shape in the thoughts of many people today. Next, we looked at how to think about our faith from a more thoroughly biblical outlook. A good question to ask in the process is this: Is your faith about glorifying and serving God, or is your faith about getting God to glorify and serve you?
It’s Part 4 in our current teaching series called “Christian Atheism: Saying you believing in a life-changing God but living like it doesn’t make a difference.”
It’s hard for your life to be totally centred on a life-changing God when your life is totally centred on you. The message is called “What The Floppy Fish Needs.” Listen in!
February 18, 2018
When You Pray Like It Doesn’t Matter
Let’s be honest. A lot of us struggle with prayer. Life is busy. Our minds get distracted…
But what if there was a different and better way to approach prayer? After all, if God is an Almighty God who both hears and answers prayer, isn’t prayer not only an incredible opportunity, but an unfathomably rich resource for our spiritual lives?
On February 18 at Westminster we got into Part 3 in our current teaching series called “Christian Atheism: Saying you believe in a life-changing God but living like it doesn’t make a difference.” It’s easy to say we believe certain things; but when our beliefs aren’t reflected in our lives, aren’t we basically living like functional atheists? (No offense to the atheists out there; but the point is that belief in a life-changing God should make a distinct impact on how we live.)
We looked at five biblical passages that shed light on prayer, and offered some practical steps forward. If your prayer life is lacking, that doesn’t mean that you’re not a Christian; but it does mean you have some room to grow as a Christian.
I like how William Temple put it: “When I pray, coincidences happen. When I don’t, they don’t.”
Listen in! The message is called “When You Pray Like It Doesn’t Matter.”
February 11, 2018
When You Don’t Love Other People
“Hurt people hurt people.” That’s what someone said who was setting up a help centre for at-risk youth. He meant that when you experience deep hurt in your life, you often continue those patterns of hurt since it’s what you know.
In light of that, the opposite is also true: Loved people love people.
On February 11 at Westminster we got into Part 2 in our current teaching series called “Christian Atheism: Saying you believe in a life-changing God but living like it doesn’t make a difference.” It’s easy to say we believe certain things; but when our beliefs aren’t reflected in our lives, aren’t we basically living like functional atheists? (No offense to the atheists out there; but the point is that belief in a life-changing God should make a distinct impact on how we live.)
So we provided a biblical definition of love, how to live that way (because it’s not possible to do on your own), some practical next steps, and a story about throwing a birthday party for a prostitute that provides us with some inspiration.
Do you want a more clarity about this key ingredient to a more robust faith? Then this is for you.
The message is called “When you don’t love other people.” Listen in!
February 4, 2018
Belief gives birth to behaviour
Part 1 – “Christian Atheism: Saying you believe in a life-changing God but living like it doesn’t make a difference.”
“Christian Atheism.” I know, it’s a strange phrase. Isn’t Christianity the opposite of atheism?
Well, you’re right. It should be.
On February 4 at Westminster we started a series called “Christian Atheism: Saying you believe in a life-changing God but living like it doesn’t make a difference.”
What do we say about prayer, verses how we actually pray? What do we say about knowing God or loving our neighbours or sacrifice or priorities or the Bible or church or heaven and hell or money, verses how we actually live our lives?
In Part 1 we dove into this: When you say you believe in a life-changing God… but don’t know Jesus.
We did this because how you answer the question “Who is Jesus?” is the most important question you will ever answer. And it totally impacts your faith and how you live your life.
This series isn’t meant to make you feel more guilty, but to provide you with more clarity. It will also embolden and firm up your faith.
You don’t have to change the world. But, with God’s help, you do need to change yours.
Part 1 is called “Belief gives birth to behaviour.” Listen in!
January 28, 2018
Trudeau, Trump, Wynne – What does the Bible teach about a Christian’s attitude toward government?
Politics and government are in the news a lot these days. People are polarized. Civility and common sense can seem scarce. It’s easy to get cynical. Especially when the Christian faith seems increasingly at odds with public policy.
So on January 28th at Westminster we gave a few examples of this, looked at a key passage in the Bible about “governing authorities” and asked: What does the Bible teach about a Christian’s attitude toward government?
Is it always respectful? Always suspicious? Or is it something else?
I realize this is a controversial topic. Perhaps there’s no way around that. But looking to the Bible can give us practical and faithful help in troubling times.
January 21, 2018
Fighting Greed in a Culture of More
John Rockefeller was asked, “How much money does it take to satisfy a man?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.”
His answer was insightful—not only about how many people think about money, but about how they think about life in general. “If only I had better clothes, or a nicer house, or was more popular, or better grades, then everything would be perfect.”
But more doesn’t always mean better. And it certainly doesn’t equate to faithfulness.
On January 21 at Westminster we had Part 3 in a series called “Keeping up with the Joneses: Why it ruins your joy, wrecks your priorities (and what to do about it).”
We probed the human tendency toward greed (even in normal, everyday ways), how it poisons your perspective, distorts reality, and undermines your awareness of God’s goodness and provision in your life.
We also talked about 1 practical thing you can do to bring your priorities back to God.
The message is called “Fighting Greed in a Culture of More”
January 14, 2018
Dealing with the judgments of others vs the judgment of God
Madonna was very honest in an interview with Vogue Magazine.
She said she feels mediocre and uninteresting unless she keeps doing new things to prove she’s special. “Because even though I have become somebody,” she said, “I still have to prove that I am somebody. My struggle has never ended and I guess it never will.”
Her interview was incredibly honest. And I think it reveals an inner turmoil that a lot of us face.
Many people have a secret fear of somehow losing at life; at being judged negatively by other people, as if we don’t measure up. And because of that, we try to keep up and compete with others to feel good and worthwhile and special.
It’s an exhausting way to live. But there’s good news. It doesn’t have to be that way.
In Part 2 of our ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ series, we explored 1 Corinthians 4 and how Paul views himself in light of the judgments and criticism of others. What we find is biblical wisdom that helps us resist the modern inner urge to keep up with the Joneses.
The message is called, “Dealing with the judgments of others vs the judgment of God.” Listen in! And be encouraged.
January 7, 2018
Worrying less about unimportant temporary things
Series: Keeping up with the Joneses: Why it ruins your joy, wrecks your priorities (and what to do about it) – Part 1 of 3
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is an expression that has to do with how you think you’re measuring up (and “keeping up”) with the people around you. It has to do with comparison.
Let’s be honest. Most of us do it.
We look at the people around us and often measure our worth and “success” based on how we compare with other people’s homes, cars, gadgets, grades, relationships, social media status, and even spiritual maturity!
We know it’s not a good idea, but we keep… on… doing it—even though it kills our joy and wrecks our priorities.
On January 7th at Westminster we started a 3-part series to explore this unhealthy phenomena and what to do about it. It’s called “Keeping up with the Joneses: Why it ruins your joy, wrecks your priorities (and what to do about it).” The apostle Paul gives enduring advice that still holds true today.
If you take this teaching seriously I think it will result in a less anxious, more confident, and more joyful you.
Part 1 is called “Worrying less about unimportant temporary things.” Listen in!
December 24, 2017
Since God Hasn’t Given Up on the World
Have you noticed? The world is troubled. There are political tensions, there is a lot of anxiety, depression is increasing. And in the midst of it all many people suffer from a ‘crisis of purpose’ and whether or not there is any greater meaning to their lives.
With all of that in mind, in comes Christmas Eve. How does the nativity story give us help and hope for the coming 12 months especially in the middle of these troubled times?
This was what we explored at Westminster in Barrie on December 24th with the help of a Holocaust survivor, input from normal people like you who talk about how they serve others, and the story of a God who never gives up on his world. The answer will give you help and hope for the coming 12 months of your life.
The message is called “Since God hasn’t given up on the world.” Listen in! And Merry Christmas!
December 3, 2017
W.W.J.D. – What Would Joseph Do? (His Courage and Yours)
Something seems broken about Christmas—not in its meaning, but in HOW we celebrate it. Every December we can get easily swept away in an expensive, stressful and hectic bluster of candy-cane flavoured insanity.
So at Westminster we’re looking more closely at the nativity story to find out how we can make it all more meaningful—and today explored the idea of courage. It might be surprising to you, but it’s a huge part of the story.
So we looked at what courage is, how it takes shape in the story, how you can have courage yourself as a person of faith, and how it can make your Christmas more meaningful as we try to more closely honour the One who is the reason for the party.
The message is called “W.W.J.D. – What would Joseph do? His Courage and Yours.” Listen in, and let your heart prepare him room.
November 26, 2017
Saving Christmas (From Ourselves)
Something seems broken about Christmas—not in its meaning, but in HOW we celebrate it. Do you find Christmas too busy, too expensive, too sad, too shallow or too stressful? If so, you may be getting sucked into the Holly Jolly Hurricane that starts to blow every December, carrying all of us away from our sensible moorings in bluster of yuletide insanity.
In light of this, on November 26th at Westminster we started a 2-part mini-series: A Servant Christmas: How the birth of a Servant Saviour can make your Christmas more meaningful. In it, we explored Matthew 1 and how to root ourselves in a more meaningful Christmas in very real, practical and biblical ways. The message is called “Saving Christmas (From Ourselves).” Listen in.
November 12, 2017
Mathematics of Spiritual Warfare
In National Lampoon’s Vacation, Chevy Chase plays a father who falls asleep at the wheel of his car while he and his family (also sleeping) careen through neighbourhoods putting everyone in danger.
On November 12th at Westminster we talked about the much-neglected topic of spiritual warfare. But if we don’t talk about or take spiritual warfare seriously, it’s like we’re also asleep at the wheel, possibly putting ourselves and those around us in danger.
In North America, it’s a topic that has fallen out of favour—probably because we’ve been so influenced by a kind of thinking that devalues or ignores anything that doesn’t fit with a horizontal or naturalistic view of reality.
But there’s more than what meets the eye in our world and lives. That idea might make some people uncomfortable, but if Jesus takes Satan seriously, so should we.
We talked about common misconceptions, what spiritual warfare actually is, why you’re already in battle, and four practical things you can do about it.
But there is nothing to fear. As the 17th century monk Brother Lawrence said, “We must go about our labors quietly, calmly, and lovingly, entreating Him to prosper the works of our hands; by thus keeping heart and mind fixed on God, we shall bruise the head of the evil one, and beat down his weapons to the ground.”
Let’s not be asleep at the wheel. Let’s live abundantly, victoriously and confidently as the people God made us to be. And let’s do it with both eyes open.
Listen in. The message is called “Mathematics of Spiritual Warfare.”
[National Lampoon’s Vacation is a Warner Bros. movie from 1983]
November 5, 2017
How to advance world peace
In North America, over 40 million people are diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There is sabre-rattling between North Korea and America. There has been a deluge of natural disasters. Terror attacks continue in Las Vegas, Manhattan, and elsewhere. Plus, the past 100 years have been plagued with global conflict.
Some people just don’t want to think about it. But others long for a better world. So how do we get there? And how do followers of Jesus advance world peace, especially as a minority in our country?
November 5th was Remembrance Sunday at Westminster. We used it as an opportunity to try and answer this important question. And although you can’t always have a say in what happens AROUND you, you can have a say in what happens THROUGH you.
And that’s something all of us need to pay attention to—for ourselves, for our country, and for our world. The message is called “How to advance world peace.” Listen in.
October 29, 2017
How To Be Wealthy (without any money)
According to Mother Teresa, the spiritual poverty in the West is WORSE than the physical poverty in Calcutta. Wow. That’s a pretty huge statement. But why would she say that?
On October 29 at Westminster we had Part 2 in a mini-series called “Rich Man, Poor Man: What makes the rich poor, the poor rich, and how to be wealthy without any money.” We explored 1 Timothy 6 and asked how we can guard against using stuff, possessions and money to fill the spiritual and moral void that can be so prominent in our culture.
The biblical answer is definitely practical wisdom for the ages, especially in a society that constantly preaches “More! More! More!”
Listen in to the podcast. It’ll give you help as you try to live in a way that is (truly) wealthy.
The message is called, “How to be wealthy (without any money)”
October 22, 2017When Possessions Possess You
Why do many rich people feel like they’re missing something? Why do many poor people seem to have something that others don’t? And how can we live wealthy lives regardless of how much money we have? I think the answer to that question is something a lot of us want to feel more confident about! Since Jesus talked a lot about the connection between money, possessions and the heart, so will we.
On October 22, our pastor took us into the Bible to help us think it through. It was the first of two Sundays of a mini-series titled, “Rich Man, Poor Man: What makes the rich poor, the poor rich, and how to be wealthy without any money.”
The message is called “When possessions possess you.” Listen in!
October 8, 2017
The True Barometer of Your Faithfulness
I’ve never been thankful for fleas. But these days, I’m starting to wonder.
October 8 was Thanksgiving Sunday at Westminster. We explored the incredibly close relationship between thankfulness and faithfulness. In fact, as R Alan Culpepper wrote, “Gratitude may be the purest measure of one’s character and spiritual condition.”
We dove into the story of the 10 lepers and why intentionally cultivating gratitude in your life makes you stronger and better able to handle adversity.
The message is called “The True Barometer of Your Faithfulness.”
October 1, 2017
Does God Even Exist? – Part 3: The Maker of Morality
Why do we think it’s wrong for someone else to cut in line? Why do we think it’s wrong when someone bullies a child and takes their money? Why do we think it’s right when people keep their word, share, or help those in need?
And why is there a basic sense of right and wrong that transcends cultures and countries?
On October 1st at Westminster this is what we explored at Westminster as a part of our series “Does God Even Exist?” In this third and final installment we looked at the argument from morality.
Not only did we look at what this argument says, but also at the popular counter arguments. Then, we summarized the whole series by wondering whether the existence of God makes any difference at all.
Part 3 of our series is called The Maker of Morality. Listen in. And be encouraged!
September 24th, 2017
Does God Even Exist? – Part 2: “God, That’s Beautiful”
Is our universe and world just here by chance, or is it by design? Are we the result of randomness, or is there an orchestrated intelligence to life on earth?
On September 24 this is what we explored as a part of our teaching series called “Does God even exist?”
Do you want to know the actual mathematical probability that we are here by chance? Then this is for you. Do you want to know an argument for God’s existence from how the universe and world is designed? Then this is for you. Do you want to know why James Clerk-Maxwell had a Bible quote over his famous physics laboratory, what Stephen Hawking says, or why famous atheist Anthony Flew changed his mind and started believing in God. If so, this is for you.
Part 2 of our series is called “God, That’s Beautiful.” Listen in!
September 17th, 2017
Does God Even Exist? – Part 1: Mind Before Matter
I personally think that’s the one question that changes everything. Are we here on purpose, or by chance? Is there something after death, or not? Is there right and wrong, or is it all relative? Do truth, beauty and love have meaning? And do they make a difference? I think all of these questions underlie a bigger one: Does God even exist?
For three weeks at Westminster, this is what we’re exploring. On September 17 we dove into Part 1. As a part of that, I pulled apart the modern myth that science and faith are opposites. Then I explored the first of three arguments about the existence of God.
Do you want to better understand what science is (and isn’t)? Then this is for you. Do you want to better understand the reasons to believe? Then this is for you. Are you kind of unsure but want to know more? Then this is for you.
I invite you to listen in. Be challenged. Be surprised. And be ready. Part 1 is called Mind Before Matter. Listen in!
September 10th, 2017
One heartbeat away from meeting your Maker
We live in the age of distraction. Researchers even talk about “DAF – Directed Attention Fatigue.” Our brains have to work incredibly hard to wade through the information that is hurtling toward us. The result is that we’re mentally tired, leaving us fatigued. When that happens, not only is it hard to know our priorities, but to live them out on a daily basis.
Here’s why this is important. Because every one of us is one heartbeat away from meeting our Maker. It could happen at any time. So doesn’t it make sense to make sure you’re ready?
On September 10 at Westminster, we explored Psalm 90:12 and wrestled with this question: “How can I organize my life now—today—so that I am at peace and ready to meet my Maker at any moment?”
Listen in. The message is called, “One heartbeat away from meeting your Maker.”
August 6th, 2017
Why do people go to church less?
A few years ago I went into a grocery store and everyone was looking at me funny. Turns out I had pink barrettes in my hair! (I had been playing with my daughter and forgot to take them out.) As a result, I stood out. I was different.
Well, guess what. That’s you.
If you go to a church service on Sunday morning, you’re a part of the curious minority of Canadians who stand out because you are in church on Sundays.
On August 6th, I used my Sunday message to answer a question I sometimes get asked: “Why are people going to church less?” I first looked at trends in global Christianity, then the situation in North America, to try and explain what’s happening. (If you ask me, more and more people are subscribing to a new religion. But I’m guessing it’s not one you’ve heard of before.)
All of it points us back to the more urgent question: Why go to church in the first place?
Listen in. Be challenged and encouraged for the journey in a changing society.
July 30, 2017
Aren’t all religions basically the same?
Aren’t all religions basically the same? That’s a question I was asked recently. It’s a good one. After all, a lot of world religions seem to believe in a higher power and have some version of the “golden rule.” Plus, in a modern, diverse society, shouldn’t we all just focus on what we have in common?
“Religion” is a big topic. 4 out of 5 people on planet earth believe in some sort of higher power. So on July 30th at Westminster, I did my best to speak about whether all religions are basically the same…and what makes Christianity different. (The answer may surprise you.)
More clearly understanding your faith can make it more powerful and authentic in your day-to-day life. I certainly want that. Do you? Listen in. And be both challenged and encouraged.
July 23, 2017
God moves in mysterious ways… Really?
“God moves in mysterious ways.” Have you ever heard that before? Or said it?
It’s one of those expressions that just kind of makes sense. But is it biblical? And if so, how does it change our perspective in an encouraging, helpful way, as we try to live a more God-honouring life?
What’s mysterious? What’s not? What difference does it make?
That’s what I talked about on July 23 at Westminster. I hope the result gives you motivation and encouragement for whatever you’re dealing with.
The message is called, “God moves in mysterious ways… Really?”
July 16, 2017
Getting God’s Wisdom Into You
Recently I was asked this question: “How do we know what to take from the Bible and what’s not as important?” It’s a great question. Maybe you have it too. After all, the Bible is huge. It’s sometimes complicated. Plus, how do you interpret confusing passages? This is what I explored on July 16th at Westminster.
As a part of this, I offered 5 practical tools to help you seriously wrestle with, and better understand, the Bible. I hope the result is more wisdom for life’s decisions. The process is not always easy, but it’s worth it. As Thomas Merton said, “The Bible may be difficult and confusing, but it is meant to challenge our intelligence, not insult it.”
Listen in. The more you get into God’s wisdom, the more God’s wisdom gets into you. The message is called “Getting God’s Wisdom Into You.”
Note: You can access the handout here: 2017 07 16 Getting Gods Wisdom Into You-handout
July 9, 2017
If You Don’t Give Something Up
Joy. A Meaningful life. Both good things, right?
Speaking to the graduating class of Eton College, the great medical missionary Albert Schweitzer said that “happiness consists in service, in giving yourself here and now to that which is worthy and above your own self-interests.”
On one level, we know that. But it’s very hard to live out. Why? Because we all risk contamination by a very selfish and individualized society. Instead of seeing our service toward others as an essential part of who we are, we see it as optional. But it’s not.
On July 9th at Westminster, we explored the story of the Widow’s Offering to get a fresh and practical perspective on what it feels like (and what it means) to live a life of service toward others–and how it relates to having a more joyful, meaningful life. The message is called “If you’re not giving something up.” Enjoy!
July 2, 2017
The Tenth Fruit
Every year on the Sunday before Vacation Bible Camp, our camp co-director and Music Director, Jennifer Harris, offers an annual message to the congregation.
“Thou Shalt Not… Complain?” You’re probably never heard that commandment before. But after reading Galatians 5 and Philippians 2, it sure makes sense!
Listen in as Jenn gives some practical wisdom on a topic many of us struggle with. Her message is called “The 10th Fruit.”
June 18, 2017
Hypocrite? – How to have less hypocrisy and more integrity in your faith, relationships, and mirror.
“You’re a hypocrite.” Has anyone ever said that to you? It’s a nasty and unpleasant thing! A hypocrite is a pretender—someone who says they believe certain ideals but doesn’t actually live them out in their own life. Hypocrites were the people Jesus often railed against. But guess what? It’s easy to become one! (And this slide can happen easily whether you think of yourself as a “traditionalist,” “progressive,” or somewhere in between. On June 18 at Westminster, I shared a tool to help you be more like Jesus and less like the hypocrites he warned us against. The result will be greater spiritual integrity. The 20-minute message is called “Hyprocrite?” Listen in.
June 11, 2017
Why Physical Health is a Spiritual Matter
If you run out of gas your car will stop working. It’s so obvious, right? Well, if it’s so obvious, why does it happen to so many people?
It’s because we don’t always pay attention to what we’re supposed to pay attention to!
Building on these ideas of things that are obvious, good for us, but that we often neglect, on June 11 we took a look at a third key to becoming a stronger person.
It has to do with how you treat your body. But even more importantly than that, it has to do with what God thinks of your body, and what he wants to do with it—and you.
The message is called “Why Physical Health is a Spiritual Matter.” Listen in!
June 4, 2017
In Weakness, Strength
Honesty is a virtue. I’m not sure anyone would argue with that. It’s good to be honest about how we deal with our neighbours and about answering people’s questions. But we’re not always honest about needing help. Maybe that’s because we think “being strong” is the same as being independent. (But it’s not.)
Strength isn’t about pretending to have it all together, knowing all the answers, and lying about how perfect your life is. That’s just stubborn foolishness.
In fact, it’s the strong ones who are honest about needing help. And it’s also the strong ones who are serious about getting that help. On June 4th at Westminster, I explained why.
It was part 2 in our series called “Stronger – 3 keys to what everyone wants to be but few achieve.” The message is called “In weakness, strength.” Listen in. (And get stronger.)
May 28, 2017
The Right Thing, Not The Easy Thing
“Dear God, please make me stronger.” I think that’s probably the #1 prayer for a lot of people. Stronger to do what you need to do; or to deal with health problems; or stress at work; or a family issue; or challenging friends; or to follow Jesus; or be the right kind of parent; or choose the direction to take or decision to make.
Being stronger would be awesome. So why do so few people get there?
I think it’s hard because we (a) misunderstand what strength is, and (b) don’t know what the Bible actually says about becoming stronger. So that’s what we’re talking about for three weeks at Westminster in a series called “Stronger: 3 Keys to What Everyone Wants To Be But Few Achieve.”
They say “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And neither are you. You don’t need to arrive before the sun goes down, but you do need to lay some bricks. To help with that we’ll explore 3 things that you can do. Starting now.
Part 1 on May 28 was called “The Right Thing, Not the Easy Thing.” Enjoy!
May 21, 2017
Is persecution coming to Canada? Persecution is a big word. It can make us think of people in harrowing circumstances on the other side of the world. But will the persecution of Christians in Canada become a reality in our lifetime? Is it already starting to happen? However you look at it, you probably know that things are changing. Your faith makes you increasingly different. So how do you inform yourself, and how to do you respond? That’s what we talked about on May 21 at Westminster. The message is called “Retaliate.”
May 14, 2017
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
“You are standing on the shoulders of giants.” The idea is simple—and powerful: That other people before you have spent time and energy on you, and prayed for you. These are spiritual giants who have sought the best for you.
On May 14 I offered a message that was rooted in 2 Timothy 1 and 3 about the kind of lasting impact we can have in each other’s lives. It was Part 3 in a series called “Team – Why you need other imperfect people in the game of life and faith.”
We were incredibly blessed by Julie Cunha and Guy Gagnon who joined me for a part of the message to personally tell us about the spiritual giants in their own lives.
And guess what. Not only are you standing on the shoulders of giants, but future giants are standing on yours! So who you are with the people God has placed in your life matters… huge. God grows what you sow into the next generation.
Listen in. The message is called “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.”
May 7, 2017
Someone’s Missing Piece
“Why are you significant to someone else’s life?” That question might be easy to answer if you’re helping a best friend in crisis of if you’re a parent. But when thinking about the people in your daily life and your community of faith, how would you answer? 1 Corinthians 12 has some important insight for us. So that’s what we explored in Part 2 of our current teaching series called “Team – Why you need other imperfect people in the game of life and faith.” Your presence can be medicine to someone else. Your insights can fill in someone else’s blind spots. What you have to offer can be the answer to someone else’s prayer. You are someone’s missing piece. (And they are yours.) Listen in and be encouraged. The message is called “Someone’s Missing Piece.”
April 30, 2017
Imperfect People are Perfect Opportunities
We live in a highly individualistic society. With iPads, drive thru windows, and personalized almost-anythings, we seem to love minimizing inconvenience. So it’s easy to bring that same perspective to our faith. We can make it about “me and God” and ignore the role other people play in our lives and faith. On one hand, I get that. Different people have different opinions and do things differently–and that’s not always easy to live with. But here’s the thing. Life is a team sport. It’s more like baseball than it is like running a 100-metre sprint. We need other imperfect people if we’re going to thrive. So on April 30 I started a new series called “Team – Why you need other imperfect people in the game of life and faith.” Part 1 is called “Imperfect People are Perfect Opportunities.” Listen in!
April 23, 2017
Miracles – What are they? Do they still happen?
Jesus performed miracles–turning water into wine, walking on water, bringing the dead back to life. But what do we make of it all as modern, scientific people? Should we do what U.S. President Thomas Jefferson did and take our scissors and cut out the miracle stories from our Bibles leaving us with just Jesus’ ethical teachings? On April 23 at Westminster we looked at two of Jesus’ healing stories to learn more about the kinds of things he did, and what difference it makes for us today. Listen in!
April 16, 2017
If he’s risen, he’s right
Dead or alive? Yes, it’s a Bon Jovi song. But it’s also the most important question we ask on Easter. Is Jesus dead, or is he alive? Is he a historical figure who came to an untimely end? Or is he God-in-person, raised and ruling? And what difference does it make in your life? How you answer just might change everything. That’s what we dove into on Easter Sunday at Westminster. The message is called “If he’s risen, he’s right.”
Resource: During the message I referenced a resource page to help answer some questions about the reliability of the Bible and trustworthiness of the resurrection stories. You can link to that here.
April 9, 2017
Series: “What’s the Point? – How to link up your very normal life with God’s very extraordinary plan?”
When Better Isn’t Easier
We live in a culture that promotes convenience, comfort and quick fixes. But if we’re going to be authentic followers of Jesus, the question we need to ask is this: Does God always make your life better by making it easier? That’s what we explored on April 9 at Westminster as we brought our “What’s the Point?” series to a close. The answer will probably challenge you, but hopefully inspire you! The message is called “When Better Isn’t Easier.” Listen in. And be open to what God can do through you.
April 2, 2017
Series: “What’s the Point? – How to link up your very normal life with God’s very extraordinary plan?”
You Can Be a Daily Movie Trailer
Purpose produces passion. That’s part of what we talked about last week in our current teaching series: “What’s the Point? – How to link up your very normal life with God’s very extraordinary plan.” The idea is simple but powerful: If you have a meaningful purpose in your life, you have more passion, energy and motivation. But you can’t link up your “normal” life with God’s extraordinary plan if you don’t know what that extraordinary plan is! On April 2nd at Westminster, we explored 1 John 2 and some very specific ways to do just that. The message is called “You can be a daily movie trailer.” You don’t have to change the world; but you do need to change yours.
March 26, 2017
Series: “What’s the Point? – How to link up your very normal life with God’s very extraordinary plan?”
What’s the point? Have you ever asked yourself that question? I have. It’s a question we ask when we’re feeling overwhelmed or alone or frustrated. But it’s also a question we ask as life goes on and we simply haven’t taken the time to figure out how our daily purpose fits into God’s eternal plans. Too often we go through life like Tykes just learning how to play hockey: with sporadic scurrying speediness! So on March 26 at Westminster we started a new series: “What’s the Point? – How to link up your very normal life with God’s very extraordinary plans.” In Part 1 we explored why this question is so important, and also what God’s bigger plans actually are. If we aren’t confident about God’s big plans, we probably won’t be confident about our day to day lives. Part 1 is called “Co-Renovators.” Listen in!
March 12, 2017
Series: “Clench – How To Love People You Just Don’t Like”
Part 3 of 3: Your Care For Someone Else Can’t Be Big IF
Sometimes the most significant thing you can to do care for someone else is staring you right in the face… literally. What are the last two words in this sentence? “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you want to be a person of love; if you want to have capacity for compassion; if you want to have margin for mercy; if you want to have get-up-and-go to share goodness–even with people you just don’t like–then you need to be proactive about spiritually caring for yourself. Why? Because your care for someone else can’t be big if your spiritual care for yourself is small. This is what we explored in Part 3 of the Clench series as we brought it all together. The message is called “Your Care For Someone Else Can’t Be Big IF.” Listen in!
March 5, 2017
Series: “Clench – How To Love People You Just Don’t Like”
Part 2 of 3: Do You Make Decisions… or Reactions?
Do you make decisions… or reactions? Truth is, we’re emotional beings–both men and women. So those strong feelings we have–often made worse by difficult people–can put us at our worst when we’re trying to be at our best. But the love Jesus calls us to live is not something that is so easily bullied. In fact, when you study Romans 12, what you find is that love is a decision whereas hostility is a reaction. This is the compelling idea we explored on March 5th with Part 2 in the series called “Clench – How to love people you just don’t like.” Listen in!
February 26, 2017
Series: “Clench” – “How To Love People You Just Don’t Like
Part 1 of 3: How To Deal With “Those” People
Some people just drive you crazy. They’re people at school or work or church or in your family or at the arena. But since Jesus tells us to “love one anther,” how can we be at our best when some people put us at our worst? On February 26th at Westminster we started a new 3-part series called “Clench – How to love people you just don’t like.” It’s called “Clench” because sometimes some people make you just want to clench your teeth. You know the ones! For Part 1 we explored some foundational wisdom from Romans 12 that we need to take seriously if anything we try to do as a people of love is going to hold. You may not like someone, but you can still love them.
February 19, 2017
Angels among us
Are there angels among us? I think so. And after you hear these two powerful stories, you might think so too. A month ago I offered a message about angels. Since that time, several people came forward with stories about their own experiences where God was incredibly active in their lives at a time of great need. So on February 19th at Westminster, we shared two of them. And I’d really like to thank the Dennis family and the Walther-Ford family for their willingness to share. Their stories help us. Why? Because when you talk about your faith you bring about faith.” The message is called “Angels among us.”
February 5, 2017
The Darker the Dark…
“It’s hopeless.” Unfortunately, we live in a time where many people struggle with overwhelming feelings of hopelessness. Whether it’s rising suicide rates, anxiety-provoking news about politics, or personal struggles, many people are struggling. But “it’s hopeless” doesn’t have to be the only response. On February 5th, we explored the idea of what it means to be a people of hope in a world where many struggle with hopelessness. We looked back at the past 12 months to see evidence of God’s hope and light, and asked how this can be a part of God’s response to the hopelessness that many people experience. The message is called “The darker the dark.” Listen in!
January 29, 2017
Angels (Their Battle and Yours)
What’s the deal with angels? Does each person have a guardian angel? Do they look like the chubby winged creatures we see on Hallmark cards? Why does God use them? What does the Bible actually say? On Sunday, January 29th my message was focused on angels and was in response to an email I received asking some of these questions. I also shared two experiences that have made me wonder about angelic visitors in my own life! For some, this is new territory. But no matter what you’ve heard up to this point, my hope is that a better understanding about angels will help you approach the difficulties of life in a healthier way. The message is called “Angels (Their Battle and Yours).” Listen in.
January 22, 2017
Lead With Love
“Unless we are the church for others, we are not the church at all.” So said Dietrich Bonhoeffer. What he meant was that unless we are proactive in how we love, care for and bless the people around us, we’ve failed in our calling to be God’s people. Love is huge! So on January 22nd at Westminster I offered Part 3 in a series called “Peachy – How to have confident convictions and lead with love when others thin your faith makes you foolish or fanatical.” In this final installment I focused in on Paul’s advice to “value others above yourselves.” Since this is easy to say and hard to do (!) I offered 6 practical suggestions for how to make that happen, especially when your faith can make you seem different in a changing world. This final message in the series is called “Lead with Love.” Listen in. I hope your find it helpful, practical and inspiring.
January 15, 2017
Why do you believe what you do? No, seriously, why? I’m not talking about someone else’s reason, or what you think the “right” reason is. What is the real reason? Your reason? Are you able to express it? And are you able to do so confidently? On January 15th at Westminster, I offered Part 2 in a series called “Peachy – How to have confident convictions and lead with love when others think your faith makes you foolish or fanatical.” Part 1 explained some of the modern changes in our society with respect to attitudes towards religion and people of faith, and how this can make you feel different. In Part 2, I take us through a key biblical passage and two exercises to make you more confident in your convictions. I should add that the brochure I talked about can be accessed in blog form here.
January 8, 2017
Be different from the world for the world
Society is changing. And if you’re a person of faith, you’ve probably noticed that with each passing day you’re increasingly different than the people around you because of that faith. So what should we make of this new reality? Why is it happening? And most importantly, how do we follow Jesus with confident, loving integrity? Well, you can be “peachy.” On January 8th at Westminster, I started a new series called “Peachy – How to have confident convictions and lead with love when others think your faith makes you foolish or fanatical.” In Part 1 I offered us a new definition of what it means to be “peachy” and also something we have in common with many of the Christians in the first century which can help us today. The message is called “Be different from the world for the world.” Listen in!
February 12, 2017 – The Names of God
On February 12th at Westminster, Cathy Clark delivered the message, reflecting on the many names of God, what they teach us, and how it impacts our daily walk of faith today.
April 14, 2017 – Commemoration
On April 14th, elder Cathy Clark offered the Good Friday message at Westminster, helping us reflect on the significance of the cross.
March 4, 2018 – The Lost and Found Basket
On March 4, elder Cathy Clark shared a message about what it means to be free in Christ. And not just freedom in terms of national or political freedom, but freedom from the burdens in life that can become overwhelming.
March 18, 2018 – One + One = You
On March 18th at Westminster, one of our members, Jeff Walther, offered a message about God’s love, sharing it with others, and the eternal difference one person — you! — can make. Listen in, not only to be encouraged, but to be motivated to encourage others in a significant way.
February 10 (Patrick Voo):
February 17 (Patrick Voo):
February 24 (Allyson Voo):
March 3 (Patrick Voo):
March 10 (Allyson Voo):
March 17 (Patrick Voo):
March 24 (Patrick Voo):
March 31 (Allyson Voo):
April 7 (Patrick Voo):
April 14 (Patrick Voo):
April 21 (Matthew Ruttan):
April 28 (Matthew Ruttan):
May 5 (Matthew Ruttan):
May 12 (Matthew Ruttan):
May 19 (Matthew Ruttan):
May 26 (Patrick Voo)
June 2 (Matthew Ruttan)
June 9 (Matthew Ruttan)
June 23 (Matthew Ruttan)