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Found 18 results

  1. Grace

    Grace. What is God’s Grace? We hear about it in the bible all the time. A quick internet search will show thousands of references to God’s Grace from the bible, but what is it? What is God’s Grace? Here is a dictionary definition of grace: GRACE 1.elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action: We watched her skate with effortless graceacross the ice. Synonyms: attractiveness, charm, gracefulness, comeliness, ease, lissomness, fluidity. Antonyms: stiffness, ugliness, awkwardness, clumsiness; klutziness. 2.a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment: He lacked the manly graces. 3.favor or goodwill. Synonyms: kindness, kindliness, love, benignity; condescension. 4.a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior: It was only through the dean's grace that I wasn'texpelled from school. Synonyms: forgiveness, charity, mercifulness. Antonyms: animosity, enmity, disfavour. 5.mercy; clemency; pardon: He was saved by an act of grace from the governor. Synonyms: lenity, leniency, reprieve. Antonyms: harshness If we combine all of these individual definitions we get a beautiful unearned/warranted gift/charity/favour. The Grace of God is a gift. Ephesians 2:7-10 (NIV) 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. If we look at this passage from Ephesians it shows us the greatest of all Graces from God. This greatest of gifts is Jesus. If we were to judge by our actions we do not deserve to be saved. Humans break the laws of God every day. When I say ‘we’ I’m speaking of humanity. We steal, kill, commit adultery, worship monies instead of God, and the list goes on. We do not deserve to be saved. Despite this though, God has given us grace and chosen to save us. This is God’s greatest grace upon humanity, but what about individuals? Every individual has also received grace from God. The most noted is Mary, mother of Christ. We can see this in the prayer “Hail Mary” which is taken from scripture in Luke 1. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus, Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death. Acts Chapter 2 explains how every believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, and how they will do the works of God, the same and greater than Jesus. Most of us do not have graces that allow us to raise the dead, but that does not mean that we don’t have God’s Grace. Most people’s gifts from God are more mundane. It may be the capacity to Love greatly, or to be able to listen to others, to be caring, to teach well, the ability to express meanings, and the list goes on. All of our abilities are gifts from God. This is why Pride is a sin. Pride is giving yourself credit for something that God gave you the ability to do. Pride is taking credit for the grace God has given you. Remember Grace is a gift from God that we do not deserve, or that we have not earned. When you were in school, received an A+ on the test, and you said “Good job, ME!” you were being prideful and should have been thanking God for the grace he gave you to be able to get the A+. This is explained well in Romans 12:3 (NIV) 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. “The faith God has distributed to each of you” this is one example which shows that we have all been given graces by God. Accept the Gifts of God. Use them to help others. Each of our gifts individually doesn’t amount to much. Together though in community we are strong. All of our gifts complement one another and are meant to be used in conjunction with one another. Thank God for the Graces he had given you, employ your gifts and do the works of God, the same and greater than Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us evermore. The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this night and evermore. Amen.
  2. Creation?

    In the beginning there was… what? That is a question that humanity has been looking for an answer for since humanity began. How did we come into being? Every culture has its own answer. For the Norse the world formed from the Ice of the north. Greek mythology states that the universe was formed from Chaos. Christianity and Judaism state that God created the universe in 6 days and rested on the 7th. Also through biblical chronology it is assumed that the universe is between 4000 and 10000 years old. Islam states that Allah created the universe in 6 aeons. And Scientists claim that the universe started from a ‘big bang’ and life was a random event. Then humanity and complex life evolved from single celled organisms. Scientists also estimate that the age of the universe is between 12 and 15 billion years old. So which of these are correct? Well there is proof that the Norse and Greek creation stories are not true, But what about the Abrahamic religions and Science? Could it be that they are all right to some extent? The creations story of Christianity and Judaism (Genesis 1-2:3) shows that a benevolent God created the universe in an orderly fashion. Islam also has a benevolent God creating the universe, and states that He did it in a number of aeons. The big bang theory states that the universe exploded from a hot dense state. However, the big bang theory cannot say what was before this, or what caused this hot dense state. Genesis 1:1-5 (NIV) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Could this be the big bang? I think so. God said the words and it was. That would be an explosion of matter. That could easily be the big bang. In the first ‘day’ God created all the interstellar bodies, and the earth. But what is a day to an eternal being? I think that this is the aeons in the Islamic creation story, and the billions of years needed for the scientific theory. Scientists claim that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. And if we look at the Christian creation story, the first 4 ‘days’ are spent on the creation of the earth and universe. Using the aeon instead of literal days science and creation would then coincide. The fifth ‘day’ of creation God creates the creatures of the sea and air. And on the sixth ‘day’ God creates all the creatures of the land culminating with humanity. Scientists claim that humanity evolved from ‘lesser’ creatures; that we share the same origins as the great apes and other primates. Genetically we are beyond similar with the great apes. We share 98.5% of the same genes with Chimpanzee’s. Despite this however science cannot conclusively prove that humans are evolved from the same origins. They continually look for the “missing link” I don’t believe that they will find one because we did not evolve from a lesser species. We were created in God’s image. Now just because we have not evolved from lesser beings does not mean that we have not evolved. And the same is true for all the other creatures on earth. There is archaeological and anthropological evidence that humans have evolved. In the Stone Age humans were (on average) only slightly shorter than we are now. When humans started to farm and learned of agriculture, we became shorter. And now humans have continued to evolve, and are taller (on average) then ever before. There is also evidence that other creatures evolve. Can creation and evolution work together? I think it can.
  3. Bible Roulette

    The other day I was sitting in my living room. There was nothing worth watching on TV. I didn’t much feel like listening to music, or watching a movie. I had just finished a book, and didn’t know which one to start reading. All in all I was just plain bored and did know what to do with myself. I just started to feel like playing a game I was taught when I was going to Sunday School; Bible Roulette. This game was just something that I did when I was at church. It never really meant anything to me. The way that the game is played is to take your bible, place it on its spine, and let it fall open to where ever it falls open. Then read the first verse that your eye falls on. The first time that this game became something other than a game for me was when my brother and I was in the cadets, serving at CFB Borden. He and I were in different companies. For me the day had started out like any other, until that afternoon. A sergeant from my brother’s company was sent to my commanding officer. My brother had been missing for a few hours. His company had been at the rifle range and that was the last place that he had been seen. My commander called me into his office and told me my brother was missing. After a few more hours I was quite distraught. I was taken into the chaplain’s office. The chaplain was a few minutes in coming, so I was left there alone. There was a bible on his desk. So I picked it up and played some Bible Roulette. The verse that I read was: Galatians 1:3 (NIV) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, That verse had a calming effect on me, and shortly thereafter my brother turned up. He had been with the supply sergeant of his company and off the base. However no one had been told about it. He had been safe all along and God had told me not to worry through that verse. This is just one of the ways that God speaks to us. This week I was playing a little Bible Roulette with my son for inspiration for this sermon. We fell upon John 11. Specifically John 11:38-44. This is the part where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Though I would encourage all of you to read all of John 11 as it is all part of this story. John 11:38-44 New International Version (NIV) Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Let us think on that. This man Lazarus had been dead for four days. He has already started to rot and smell. Even in this day and age of medical miracles we could only have buried him 6 feet down. But Jesus said a prayer and Lazarus was restored back to life. This truly shows the power of God. Now as you know Jesus died and was raised from the dead himself. However there is one HUGE difference between Jesus’ and Lazarus’ raisings. Jesus was resurrected. Lazarus was restored. Lazarus being restored means that he will continue to live his life and when he grows old, or gets sick, or has an accident, will again die. Jesus was resurrected in his body. He will NEVER die again. One of Jesus’ greatest works is raising people from the dead and John 14:12 speaks on how we will do greater works than Jesus. We will do greater works than Jesus. How is that possible? What is greater than raising someone from the dead? John 14:12 New International Version (NIV) Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. What this calls for is faith. It was Jesus’ faith in God that allowed Him to do the works. It was the apostles’ faith in Jesus’ divinity that gave them the power to do the works that they did. A friend of mine Father Graham Keep, a Roman Catholic priest, was chaplain in the Canadian Army holding the rank of Major. He was going on an exercise with one of the units he was affiliated with. It was the middle of winter and the roads were icy. They were in an extended van/bus and the driver was new to that vehicle driving to the airport. They started down a hill at the bottom of which was a bridge spanning a railroad track. About half way down the hill they started to spin. Fr. Graham started to praise God. Everyone else in the vehicle was silent. Just before reaching the bridge and going over and down onto the tracks they spun into the ditch and the engine cut out. The driver tried and tried to start the bus but it would not work. So they all pilled out. There were many expletives used by the soldiers, as they lit their cigarettes. No one there had any major knowledge of engines, and it was going to be a few hours before a ‘rescue’ crew could get to them. Fr. Graham walked up to the front of the bus, put his hand on the hood, and said, “In Jesus’ name; Start.” The driver turned the key and it started right up. All the expletives stopped, and the soldiers stood there open mouthed. Smiling Fr. Graham said, “I’m doing baptisms before we get on the plane for anyone who wants one.” Now getting an engine to start is by no means greater than raising someone from the dead, but it proves that faith is a powerful thing. Mark 11:22-25 New International Version (NIV) 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Have faith, believe, and it will be done. Let me end today in a prayer I arise today Through a mighty strength: God's power to guide me, God's might to uphold me, God's eyes to watch over me; God's ear to hear me, God's word to give me speech, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to shelter me, God's host to secure me. Amen
  4. The Yoke of Jesus

    Welcome everyone! I would like to thank all of you for joining me this sermon. Before I start, I would invite all of you to add a prayer request to our Prayer Request Page. We all have something that needs prayer. We all have things that we need help with. Many people find that the Catholic Church is old fashioned, and don’t like going to their services because of that; especially if they normally go to a Pentecostal, or Baptist Church. One of the things about the Catholic Church that is considered old fashioned is the Vestments that the priests wear at mass. Each part of the priestly garb (vestments) has a specific symbolism. The one piece of priestly garb that I want to speak of today is the Stole. What the stole symbolizes is the yoke of Jesus. We are all supposed to take on the yoke of Jesus, because his load is light, and in turn He will help us with our yoke; our burden, which is heavy. Job 31:7-8 (NIV) 7 if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, 8 then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted. If we all turn to God, and let Jesus help to carry our yoke, our burden, then the above passage would not have to happen to us. Many of us profess to believe in God. Yet hide that belief. We don’t do as we are called. We are all called to minister to those who have not heard the word… or those who do not believe. We are called to evangelize. This does not mean that we all need to be out on the street corner with a bible in hand shouting out the word of the Lord. In fact most don’t have to change much in how we live. In everyday conversation there is often an opening to talk about God, and how God leads our lives. If we were all to do this it would make a difference. We would be getting God’s word out into the world without being the preachy on the street corner type. And if we trust in God then when we are asked questions about our beliefs, the Holy Spirit will guide our words and heart. We will answer these questions true. Faith is a powerful thing. Faith is what would allow you to take on the yoke of Jesus, and in turn unburden yourself. Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” What does it mean to have faith in Jesus? Was Jesus real? Did Jesus die and ascend into Heaven? Or how about is Jesus God? To have faith in Jesus and His teachings is to believe that He is real, He did die and ascend into Heaven, and that He is God. If these statements are not true statements then we are all just a bunch of people worshiping a mad man who rotted away 2000 years ago. Lucky for us though these statements are true; and because of that we can still get help from Jesus with our burden. Jesus, who is God, is still here to take on our burdens. Every one of us has something that presses on our soul. Something that we are ashamed of, or something that troubles us about ourselves. That is something that taking Jesus’ yoke can help us with. Every one of us has a bad relationship with someone else. By following the word of God, we can ease that relationship. Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV) 34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus is telling us in these verses in the simplest of terms the easiest way to take on his yoke. The easiest way to lighten our burden. First and foremost, Love God. If we love God, we believe in Him; we have Faith in Him. And secondly ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ If we did this then we would be able to mend the burnt, or broken bridges in the bad relationships we all have. We all have the need to take on the Yoke of Jesus. We all have the desire to take on the Yoke of Jesus. I challenge you to do so. This week, try and love others as you love yourself. Read the teachings of Jesus. And what I would recommend for this is to read the Gospel of Mark. It is the shortest of the Gospels and it is an easy read. And pray while you read. Remember prayer is about being in communion with God. May God Bless you and Keep you. Granting us all peace and happiness. Thank you for reading this Sermon.
  5. Hardness of Heart

    At times we all are stubborn and set in our ways. That is just part of being human. Whether it is to believe that some extraordinary event happened; like the grumpy lady down the street said “good morning” to your friend. Or not giving up on a sports team that hasn’t won anything in forever; such as the Maple Leafs who don’t have a colour photo of the Stanley Cup. In these circumstances you have hardened yourself against the possibility of change, or rebuff. A good example of this is in Mark 3:1-6 (NIV) 1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” 4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. In these verses the Pharisees’ harts were hardened against Jesus. They were so jealous of Jesus that all they saw was the fact that Jesus was ‘working’ on the Sabbath. They knew he was going to heal someone. They knew it because they were waiting for him to do it. They knew he was going to heal; but could not see that Jesus healed a man’s infirmity. They were so blinded by rage and jealousy that rather than be witness to God’s power and grace, they went out and conspired to kill Jesus. They were so stubborn and set in their ways they could not see the good that was being done. There is symbology in the man who was healed in this story as well. This man’s hand was shrivelled into a fist. Think on that. The fist is a widely accepted sign of ‘fight’ or anger. You shake your fist at someone, who’s cut you off while driving down the highway. Then Jesus says, “Stretch out your hand.” The man’s hand is no longer a fist ‘ready for fight’ but an open palm. A hand stretched out palm up is a sign of acceptance, and receival. The man was ready to receive Jesus and the word. I for one pray that my heart is never hardened against the Word of God, and that my ‘palm’ will remain open to receive the Graces of God.
  6. The Beauty of God's Works

    While driving my wife to the dentist, we were listening to the song, “Shout to the Lord.” One line of the lyrics really popped in my mind. “I sing for joy at the work of Your hands” This one line got me thinking about creation. There really is a joy in the works of God’s hands: the simple joy of watching the sun rise or set, or looking at the way the trees grow. The simplicity yet complexity of nature is a pure joy. The fact that things are as God wants them to be. Humans try to enforce our will on the works of God. Our will may hold for a time, but God’s will is infinitely more. We build roads, sidewalks, and parking lots removing the grasses, and plants that were there. Yet the pavement cracks and the grasses and weeds grow there anyway. We plant bushes and trim them to look like figures. Yet without vigilance they start to heal what we have done to them and return to how God intended. We clear cut, and build; plant and mould thing how we want them and say. ‘Look what we have done!’ We take pride and joy in our works. Yet we dismiss the Works and Joys of God. We are prideful for something that we should be thanking God for. Were it not for God’s graces to us, we would not have the knowledge to make and shape the pavement. Without God’s graces we would not have the trees and bushes to shape. Pride is taking credit for the ability that God gave to you. If it were not for God’s gift to you, you would not have achieved whatever you are proud about… There is no doubt that humanity can make wonderful and beautiful things (not that a road, or parking lot are all that beautiful), but when we forget that were it not for God, none of those things that we have made were possible... We start to run into sin and that removes us from God. Rather than change the world God created to fit our needs we need to understand that the world is the way it is because that is how God made it. We need to step back from our human perspective, and look at the joyful things God has created. There are many rural folks who don’t understand why people want to live in cities. They are the people who see the joys of nature all around them; the joys of the work of God’s hands. There was a time not so long ago when I would have gone for a walk through the bush out behind my parent’s house, and I wouldn’t have seen anything beautiful. All I would have seen were some trees and a few bugs flying around. But the truth of the matter is; is that in that bush there is much, much more; and all of it beautiful in its way. I go walking through that same bush now, and I see the lilies growing in counter point to the fungus on the trees, the birds nesting all around, and the ferns growing in the shaded area under the canopy of the trees. How a maple is next to the ash, next to the birch, and how there are pine, and fir trees intermixed among them. There is a beauty and joy that God intended in how everything compliments everything else. There is a beauty and joy in how everything works together to perpetuate itself. There is beauty and joy in every plant and every creature from the most beautiful flowers and birds, to the ‘ugliest’ bugs, and reptiles. When we step back from our humanity, from our human desire to change the world we live in; we can see things more clearly. There is a quote from the first ‘Matrix’ movie when Agent Smith was speaking to Morpheus, where he explained how humanity was a virus that I would like to share. “I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus...“ The reason I shared this quote is that at times it is very true. Rather than put God at the forefront of society and our lives, we push Him away and act very much like a virus to God’s creation. The world is abundant, and gives ALL of humanity ALL that it needs to survive. Yet there are people starving to death, there are people without shelter, or even clothing. If we stop trying to be a virus and destroy the world... If we start living in harmony with God’s creation, in harmony with nature, all our problems would be solved. I have spoken often about being neighbourly. Doing to others as you would have them do to you. This applies to more than just to other peoples. If we treat nature, and the things around us with kindness, then it will in turn do the same to us. Many botanists, horticulturalists, even farmers will tell you that a plant that is treated well, will produce more ‘fruit’ than one that is mistreated. Animals that are well kept are more likely to do as we wish. Take your pet for example. If you were to take Fido and beat him every time you he doesn’t do something right then he is just going to fear you. (Certainly discipline him) But if you treat him kindly he will do as you wish, and love you. If you mistreat a cow it is likely to become ill, and not produce as much milk, or become as beefy. The Joy and beauty of God’s creation is everywhere for us to see, if we choose to see it. And that joy and beauty is reflected in us if we treat the world as God’s creation and not as a thing for us to conquer. May the Grace and the Peace of the Lord Be with you, on your journey through this life, and may God open your eyes to be able to see the Joy in the works of His hand. Amen
  7. Who we are.

    Today, rather than pick a topic from scripture, and talk about it, I am going to try to explain one of my personal beliefs. I’ve chosen this, because this belief has been on my mind lately, and I think that it might be helpful for others to ‘hear’ it. What I do, and what I feel, is Not who I am. My actions, thoughts, and emotions do not define me; because if they did, every time I do, or feel something different, I would be a different person. If I were a working, contributing member of society, and then retired... would that change who I am? Of course not. Our value is not based on what we do. Who I am, who we all are, is beloved Children of God. No matter what I do, no matter what I feel, no matter my situation in life, I am still a beloved child of God. Nothing can change this fact. My actions may not reflect who I am, as a beloved child of God (May God forgive my iniquity). However, who we are has not changed. As a beloved Child of God, you have moral principles. We can then use those moral principles to judge our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions. Being able to judge these aspects, you can control, and master them. You do this by ensuring that your thoughts, emotions, and actions correspond with being a beloved Child of God. As beloved sons and daughters of God, we are called to act as Jesus taught us. Being human our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions don’t always reflect who we are, but that does not change who we are. If you meditate on who you are as a beloved Child of God, then you can judge you thoughts, emotions, words, and actions. Once a judgement has been made we can change/control our thoughts, emotions, and actions. I feel angry and as though I want to bash in my noisy neighbours head all the time. But that thought, and action goes against who I am as a beloved Child of God. So I can judge that that thought, is bad, and not take that action. Ultimately, I believe that, to be a good person, you, as an individual, need to make the active choice to be a good person. By making that choice, you are choosing to reflect who you truly are. Padre J Roulston
  8. Choices

    I’m going to start this sermon with the story of the Lost Son. (Also known as the Prodigal Son.) Luke 15:11-32 (NIV) The Parable of the Lost Son 11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” My intention was to have this sermon be on choices, and how they affect us. But I think there is more to be learned from this story than just choices. However keeping with choices, let us look at the younger son. By asking for his share of the estate he is basically saying to his father that he wished that his father was dead. The only time that you claim an estate, or inheritance, is when the (in this case) father dies, or in some circumstances when he is infirm. So in asking his father for his share in the estate, he is insulting his father, and the rest of the family. Despite the insult, to person and family, the father gave to the son what would be his, and gave his blessing. Think about it… If one of your children came up to you stated that they wished you dead, then demanded that you sell all you own and give them a portion. (A younger of two brothers would get 1/3rd) Would you do it, give them a kiss and wish them well? Not likely. I know I wouldn’t. The younger son thought that he knew best for himself, chose to insult the family and disown them. The father chose to give the son what he asked for out of love. He only wanted his son to be happy. The son then chose to waste the monies on parties, drinking, and prostitutes. He chose not to follow his father’s example, to invest the monies, and build a life for himself. And the monies ran out. Because he squandered the monies he had received, he was forced to feed the unclean animals. What I’m trying to explain is that all choices have effects, for either the good or bad. The younger son’s choices had an ill effect. When we do things we must really look at what the possible outcomes are. Who are our choices going to affect; because all of our choices affect someone. Assuming we knew no one. Food and water were delivered to the apartment anonymously at a specific time, and the rent and utilities were paid for. In essence we could stay indefinitely in the apartment and never leave. If we chose to stay in the apartment, that choice affects others. Even if that effect is only that no one else can see us, or get to know us. Every choice we make has an effect. So be kind in your words. Don’t be like the younger son who insulted his father, and family. Who chose not to follow the good example to a healthy and prosperous life. Choose to be like the eldest son, who headed his father, and followed his example. And be like the father, who despite the hurt, and insult, helped his son, took him back, and killed the fatted calf in celebration. Mark 12:29-31 (NIV) 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Luke 6:29 (NIV) 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Romans 13:8-10 (NIV) Love Fulfills the Law 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. We have all been wronged by someone. We have all had the impulse to retaliate, and I’m sure more than one of us has retaliated. However as these verses show; that is not how we are to live our lives. We are to love one another. We are to love complete strangers. And if those people wrong us, we are to let it be water under the bridge… to turn the other cheek. In Matthew 26:52 we are told that those who live by the sword die by the sword. And what this is saying is: those who chose to live a life of violence will die by violence. And in the same token, those who lead a life of love will die in love. And that doesn’t necessarily mean physical death. So when someone wrongs us, and we have that urge to retaliate (the way I likely would if my son came to me saying he wished I was dead so that he could have money) we need to choose to put that thought and urge down. Despite the wrong we are to choose to live in love, and accept the wrong. In closing I urge all of you to be mindful of the other people in your life. No matter how insignificant of contact you may have with them; your choices will affect them. And chose to live in love.
  9. Doubt

    Doubt. Doubting God, or doubting our faith in God is always considered a bad thing. But is it? John 20:24-29 (NIV) Jesus Appears to Thomas 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The Apostle Tomas is known as Doubting Tomas. This is best known because when Jesus appeared to the other Apostles he was not there and Tomas didn’t take their words for his own. Tomas didn’t doubt that the other Apostles believed they had seen, what they claimed, and he supported them, but he wanted to be able to see Jesus for himself. He wanted to be able to stick his fingers into Jesus’ wounds as proof. There was that bit of doubt in his actions that made us label Tomas as a doubter. Though there is nothing in the Bible that says “Tomas the Doubter” John 14:1-5 (NIV) 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” There are other times where Tomas did not just accept and follow blindly. Jesus said “You will know the way.” All the other Apostles nodded agreement even though they weren’t sure that they did know what Jesus was talking about. Tomas said it outright “No we don’t know the way. How do we follow you?” Again there is the doubt that labelled him. The thing about doubt is to not let it rule your faith. The only way to learn is to ask questions; if you don’t understand, ask more. That is the core of what doubt is: not understanding. Tomas wasn’t afraid to ask a question when he didn’t understand. He wasn’t a skeptic; he was a perfectionist in a way. He knew that he would one day have to teach what he was learning, and he wanted to know that he knew what he was going to be teaching. Tomas wanted to be able to see Jesus raised from the dead himself. He wanted to have the same experience as the others. He didn’t want to be left out, and he wanted his doubts removed. Doubt can be a good thing, so long as it doesn’t rule your faith. You don’t want to be a skeptic that wants conversion. You need to be an attentive, inquisitive pupil. If doubt does rule your faith it estranges you from God. And anything that removes you from God is definitely not a good thing. Anything that removes you from God is a debt incurred against God. Tomas didn’t let doubt rule his faith. He allowed it to enhance his faith, love, and knowledge. And like Tomas, that is what we need to do. Tomas has become known as the doubter, yet all the Apostles/disciples doubted. Tomas just put the doubts into words. It is not mentioned in the bible that Tomas was a doubter, because the doubt Tomas had didn’t rule him.
  10. Here is something worth reading if you have some problems with Islam. Navigate to 'findings and insights' Scroll down to 'catalogue of findings' Jump down to "A Catalogue of Findings", looking specifically at 'emancipative values'. The WVS is a huge study encompassing 60 countries in 6 waves from 1981-2014. To summarise: Emancipative values predict greater well-being, shifts towards democracy and equality. The presence of Islam weakens emancipative values. BUT, high education removes the effect between Islam and emancipative values. So while today at this point in time, Islam on average is causing the world a degree of strife and may weaken emancipative values, education is the answer. Promoting global education is one possible way of removing the negative effects of Islam. Discriminating against, and condemning Islam is easy to do. Fear leads to hate, hate leads to anger, and anger leads to condemnation. We all have the human propensity to take the easiest road out of a complex situation. Compassion and empathy wouldn't be so highly valued unless they were hard. Their difficulty requires us to look long and hard at ourselves, our preconceived beliefs about others, and to open up our imagination to other, more positive alternatives. Anti-gun lobbyists claim that guns are an American problem. But the right to own a firearm is a constitutional right. Mental health is the underlying cause of gun violence. Guns themselves are not directly to blame although the absence of guns would certainly end gun violence (perhaps increasing other forms of violence). Anti-islamists claim that Islam is a global problem. But it is a universal human right to practice a religion free from persecution. Poor education is the underlying cause of radical Islam. Islam itself is not directly to blame, although the absence of Islam would certainly end radical Islam (perhaps increasing other forms of radicalism). Hate is easy, compassion is hard. WWJD?
  11. This past year of my life i guess you can say my mind has opened a lot, my views has changed a lot. most of my family are Christians. i was taught as a little girl that there was a god, i went to church with my family for years. when when i was 13 i become depressed and suicidal. but out through all of that i still kept my faith. every morning when i got up i would thank him for waking me up. i would pray at school, if i had to do a speech i would pray for him to help me get through it. when i went to sleep at night i would talk to him a good while. i was a Christian and i did not care who knew... but now this past year i don't have the same faith anymore i stopped talking to god. and i started wondering if there is a god.. i have been learning about Buddhism. witch gets my mom upset.. but i'm not converting to it. i feel like right now i'm agnostic.. i just don't know how i can tell my family with out hurting them. and sorry i'm bad at spelling and grammar.
  12. Regarding atheism: the rejection of theology. To clarify, I don't mean the atheists who follow it like a religion and try convert people. I mean the people who just don't make religion or spirituality and important part of their life. A user on here refers to them (respectfully) as 'materialists' - essentially, their life philosophy is restricted to what they experience, not on beliefs which (as of yet) have not been accepted by the scientific community. I hope I got that right. Otherwise said user can correct me . I bring this up because I've been given the impression that religious folks feel uneasy about atheism because of an opinion that 'materialism' isn't a sufficient basis on which a harmonious society can function on. eg. the process of natural selection, if applied to a society, is an excuse to reject compassion and support for the underprivileged or disadvantaged. Personally I'd disagree and say that society works as a function of culture, and worked more or less harmoniously before religion. but I'd also agree and say that whilst I try to be compassionate, I think I am less horrified or outraged by the worlds horrors due to a materialist view. "We have no higher purpose than to survive and reproduce, and everything that man has achieved is a byproduct of those base desires, given superior evolutionary characteristics. I guess what I'm debating is, religion can be portrayed as a reflection of culture (a system of learning over generations through transmission of information). So long as we have parents and society teaching their kids not to kill or steal, there is no need for religious doctrine telling us also. To refine that question further: Is subscription to positive religious doctrine necessary to keep a harmonious society, or is it just one of many useful ways of transmitting cultural information? If we consider religious stories where Gods have communicated with humans to share their wisdom for living (ie. 10 commandments) I feel that most of the commandments were things that human societies were practicing anyway to some degree, and that the deviations people committed from these rules or commandments is no greater today than it was pre-religion. The commandments are really just good rules for the survival and success for any group living in close companionship and would be (and are) selected for naturally in any sentient social species. Perhaps religion evolved culturally as an easier and surer way of transmitting and ensuring the practice of successful group behaviours.
  13. "Do what you do. This Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, Twelfth Night, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, St. Paddy's Day, and every day henceforth. Just do what you do. Live out your life and your traditions on your own terms. If it offends others, so be it. That's their problem." Agree or disagree? And why has saying "Merry Christmas" become so offensive? In the old days, people didn't worry about offending anyone or getting offended by anyone! They greeted Christians with "Merry Christmas" and went to Mass (or service if they were Protestant). To a Jew, they said "Happy Hanukkah." A Christian could greet his Jewish neighbor with "Merry Christmas" and not offend his neighbor. The same neighbor could greet him "Happy Hanukkah" and he won't be offended either. What the heck happened to society?
  14. Do we have the true Religion on Eart?
  15. We're Muslims, and my mum wears a headscarf. So, I'm worried she'll get picked on during our vacation to New York. She's the most sensitive person I know, if someone even glares at her she'll cry about it for hours. Is discrimination still a common issue in the states? Is there anyway I can protect her from people's false accusations? Please note I'm not accusing ALL Americans of being discriminating, it's just the stuff we see on TV and on the internet, it's pretty scary. I don't want my mother getting bullied for what she believes in.
  16. How do I discern my will vs. God's will?? I know that God already has my life planned out for me. Every breath I breathe is counted, every step I take is measured, he knows every thought I think before I think it. How do I know that if I pray to God to show favor on me, and faithfully ask it to be his will, that my actions are not in response to what he wants me to do, vs. what I want to do. I know that God is not a magician and will make every thing magically better. How do I hear God's voice and know in my heart that it's God's will? What if God's will is telling me to do something/ or not to, and I'm not hearing it??? I know everything happens according to his timing. How do I know that God is listening?? If I rely on my faith, why do I feel hurt and alone?? Is this a lesson?? How do I know God hasn't left me?
  17. Hey, My mother is a very "active" christian, she goes to all of these church events and stuff and seems to be able to quote every scripture ever. Recently she has been using the commandment "Honor your mother and father" against me for every little thing I do. Such as wanting to stay up a bit later because I have something to get done and if I pose an argument to her "no" she just brings up the commandment. Is there any scripture I can come back at her with that is on my side and not just to "Honor your mother and father" such as one that says respect is to be given both ways. Its just this is really annoying now. ~Ranea