"His Climbing Companions"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 19 Issue 35 November 15, 2009

I love the way Jesus taught. It was easy to understand always relevant, and of course applicable. It was “do-able”. His goal was to transform people, not merely inform them.

Sermons that ask people to change without sharing the practical steps of how to change only produce guilt and frustration.

Matthew 5 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions.

Jesus began by sharing eight secrets of genuine happiness;

1. You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.

2. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear.

3. You're blessed when you're content with just who you are.

4. You're blessed when you have a good appetite for God.

5. You're blessed when you care, for you will be cared for.

6. You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right.

7. You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.

8. You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. This drives you deeper into God's kingdom.

Then Jesus spoke to his climbing companions about living an exemplary lifestyle, controlling anger, restoring relationships, and the issues of adultery and divorce.

Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?
Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God.

This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right.

Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

Or say you're out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don't lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him.

Adultery and Divorce
You know the next commandment pretty well, too: 'Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body.
Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.

Let's not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here's what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer.

You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly.

Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.

Remember the Scripture that says, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights'? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are 'legal.' Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you're responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you're automatically an adulterer yourself. You can't use legal cover to mask a moral failure.

Next he spoke of keeping promises

And don't say anything you don't mean. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, 'I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

Then Jesus moved on to other practical life issues. Like how to give with the right attitude, how to pray, and how to store up treasure in heaven.
Completing God's Law
Don't suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures— either God's Law or the Prophets. I'm not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together.
God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won't know the first thing about entering the kingdom.
You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.
Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life.
No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.

This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.

If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.

If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal?

Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

He wraps up his message by telling us to not judge others, encouraging persistence when asking God to meet our needs, and warning us about false teachers.

What I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

This is the kind of preaching that we need in churches today.

We need Jesus style teaching it makes a difference in peoples day-to-day lives.

Jesus said, I have come that you might have life. He didn’t say, I’ve come that you might have religion. Christianity is a life.

When Jesus finished his teaching he usually wanted them to go and do likewise.

Christ-like preaching explains life to people. It produces a changed lifestyle.

Life-related preaching doesn’t just inform, it transforms.

It changes people because the Word is applied where people actually live.

Its not enough to simply proclaim,

Christ is the Answer.

We must show the unchurched

how Christ is the Answer.

"This We Should Remember"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 19 Issue 34 November 8, 2009

WW I - 1914 Canada’s population was just over 3 million, mostly women and children. Of the men and women who VOLUNTEERED 60,000 were killed, 120,000 were wounded.

April 22, 1915, the Germans used poison gas for the first time, as 145 tons of chlorine gas drifted over the trenches, the Canadian troops held and stopped the German advance. The casualties were enormous. In two days 1/3 of Canadians died.

April 1917, the Canadians won a major victory at Vimy Ridge. There were more than 10,000 casualties in six days but a year latter, on November 11, the Armistice was signed and the Canadians took part in the triumphant entry into Belgium.

WW2: It was 1939 and again Canadians flocked to enlist. For almost six years, Canadians fought valiantly on battlefronts around the world. More than one million men and women enlisted in the army, the navy and the air force. When the war was over, more than 45,000 had given their lives.

The Gospel of Saint John says, Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

We as Canadians had best remember the price our friends paid for our freedom. And we as Christians had best remember the price our Friend Jesus paid for us.

When war came, Canadians volunteered readily to serve their country as champions of liberty. They came from farms, from small towns and large cities across the country, riding high on the initial wave of indignation, excitement, and patriotism. For the men and women who rallied to support their nation's cause, the threats of war seemed far away and unreal.

In the fall of 1914 as the 1st contingent of Canadians left the shelter of the St. Lawrence for the open Atlantic, some of the realities came into focus....How could they know that four long years of death and destruction were ahead?

There is much to remember.

Foremost are the people, the men and women who served wherever they were needed. They faced difficult situations bravely and brought honor to themselves, to their loved ones and to their country.

They were ordinary Canadians who made extraordinary sacrifices.

It is good to remember today, But I believe it only proper that in our daily living we remember their great sacrifice!

Deuteronomy 8:1-5 Keep and live out the entire commandment I'm commanding you today so you'll live and prosper and enter and own the land that God promised to your ancestors.

Remember every road that God led you on for those forty years in the wilderness, pushing you to your limits, testing you so that he would know what you were made of, whether you would keep his commandments or not.

He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don't live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God's mouth.

Your clothes didn't wear out and your feet didn't blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child.

Deuteronomy 8:6-9 it's paramount you keep the commandments of God, your God, walk down the roads he shows you and reverently respect him. God is about to bring you into a good land, a land with brooks and rivers, springs and lakes, streams out of the hills and through the valleys. It's a land of wheat and barley, of vines and figs and pomegranates, olives, oil, and honey. It's land where you'll never go hungry—always food on the table and a roof over your head. It's a land where you'll get iron out of rocks and mine copper from the hills.

Deuteronomy 8:10-16 After a meal, satisfied, bless God, your God, for the good land he has given you.

Make sure you don't forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don't become so full of yourself and your things that you forget your God.

· The God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery;

· The God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness, those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions;

· The God who gave you water gushing from hard rock;

· The God who gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, "I did all this. And all by myself. I'm rich. It's all mine!"— well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8:19-20 If you forget, forget God, your God, and start taking up with other gods, serving and worshiping them, I'm on record right now as giving you firm warning: that will be the end of you; I mean it—destruction. You'll go to your doom—the same as the nations God is destroying before you; doom because you wouldn't obey the Voice of God, your God.

May God be glorified in our living!

Remember your salvation: Exodus 13:3 Moses said, Always remember this day. This is the day when you came out of Egypt from a house of slavery. God brought you out of here with a powerful hand.

Remember where you’ve come from: Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:33-34 When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don't take advantage of him, Love him like one of your own. Remember, you were once foreigners in Egypt.

Remember your deliverance: Deuteronomy 7:16-18 You're going to think to yourselves, "Oh! We're outnumbered ten to one by these nations! We'll never even make a dent in them!" But I'm telling you, Don't be afraid.

Remember, yes, remember in detail what God, your God, did to Pharaoh and all Egypt.

Remember the great contests to which you were eyewitnesses: the miracle-signs, the wonders, God's mighty hand as he stretched out his arm and took you out of there.

God, your God, is going to do the same thing for you today!

Did you know that there are 591 pictures taken every second? That's 51.1 million every day. We take 3 billion photographs just during the Christmas holiday season. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, that’d be a big book. We do all this to help our memory. We need things to strengthen or jar our memory.

The Bible makes an interesting statement in Proverbs 10:7 (NIV) "The memory of the Righteous will be a blessing!"

"Getting Used To It"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 19 Issue 33 November 1, 2009

Yesterday was Halloween - proving once again that darkness is all about us… It seems the deep depravity of man, social evils, worldliness and immodesty are all accepted in today’s light views of sin.

The whole world lies in darkness and sadly we Christians are getting used to the dark. I John 5:19

Vance Havner one of my favorite preachers points out that we as Christians are to expose the darkness not so much by denouncing it as by the sharp contrast of our godly living.

The early Christians did not dim their lights to match the times”

Today I want to encourages every Christian to beware of getting used to the dark and to consciously work at turning on the light.

Luke 11:33-34 No man when he lights a candle puts it in a secret place. neither under a bushel; but on a candle stick, that they which come in may see the light.

In His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus gives this responsibility to us to be the Light of the World. Paul challenges us with this same responsibility in Ephesians 5:8-14 and in Philippians 2:14-16. Peter also teaches this in I Peter 2:9-12.

Jesus says that when others see our good lives and our good works, they will be forced to glorify our Father in heaven.

Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them Ephesians 5:11

Man has never had more artificial illumination and less true light.

We are seeing not ordinary moral corruption, but evil multiplied, a darkness never heard of a generation ago.

There is a slow, subtle, sinister brainwashing process going on and by it we are gradually being desensitized to evil. The night is far spent and we are getting used to the darkness.

Little by little, sin is made to appear less sinful until the light within us becomes darkness, and how great is that darkness!

We are engulfed in a tidal wave of pornographic filth. Television has brought the darkness right in our living room.

We get used to it. We accept, as a matter of course, its art, its literature, its music, its language. We learn to live with it without an inner protest. As the prophet said, we don’t even blush anymore.

Lot was a righteous man, pitched his tent toward Sodom, then he moved into Sodom, lived in it, probably became its mayor. His soul was vexed from day to day with the Sodomites’ unlawful deeds, but he lost his influence with his family, had to flee for his life, and died in disgrace.

As it was in the days of Lot. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed Luke 17:28-30

Sit long enough in a dark room and you will imagine that more light is breaking in. The same danger exists with regard to worldliness. If you are not living separated unto the Lord you will soon find this world less repulsive.

Rather than being a light and expose the darkness we turn our lights down and get used to the darkness around us. Of course we do not get used to it all of a sudden.

Folks there are some things we have no right ever to get used to. One, is brutality. The other is sexual immorality. Both, have now come together and are moving towards a dominant pattern.

There was a time when sin shocked us. But as the brainwashing progresses, what once set us back now doesn’t even make us blush.

We are not supposed to learn how to live in the dark, we are to walk in the light.

Church workers fall into grievous sin and move on to new positions without repentance or change of conduct. Parents let down in discipline, saying, “What’s the use?” Pastors give up preaching against sin, arguing that the world’s evils are here to stay.

The world lives in the dark... it rejects Jesus the Light of the world: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil John 3:19

This light shines in Christ: I am the light of the world. John 8:12 It shines in the Scriptures: Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light for my path Psalm 119:105

It shines in the saints: You are the light of the world Matthew 5:14

Every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved John 3:20 This might explain why some people don’t come to church.

Have you ever overturned a rock in a field? All the hidden creeping and crawling things hit by the sunlight scurry for cover. In the same way our sinful hearts grow restless in the light of God’s truth.

Christians are to let their light shine. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so we are to reflect the light of Christ. The way Christ makes us His lights in the world is by living in us by His Holy Spirit. The light we reflect is actually Christ living out His life in us. This is taught in Galatians 2:20. Think about an eclipse.

We expose darkness not so much by denouncing it, although that has its place, but by the contrast of our godly living. Sadly we are so afraid of being offensive that we are no longer effective!

Our Lord said that two things would smother the light of our testimony, a bushel and a bed. Today we dim our light in the third way: we turn it low for fear of creating a disturbance. It would seem we would rather grieve the Holy Spirit than offend the wicked.

The early Christians did not dim their lights to match the times.

Paul exceedingly troubled the places he visited, and even in prison at midnight he turned night into day. Early Christians met in the catacombs, but they illuminated the world.

We are to shine as lights in the world. This is no time to get used to the dark; it is time to turn up the Light!

Early Christianity set the world aglow because absolute Light was pitched against absolute darkness. The early Christians believed that the Gospel was the only hope of the world, that without it all men were lost and all religions false.

Then the day came when the church and the world mixed light and darkness. Today many Christians think there is some darkness in our light and some light in the world’s darkness. We half doubt our own Gospel and half believe the religion of this age.

Question: What is half cold and half hot?

We are creeping around in the dark when we should be flooding the world with light.

We need to take the shades of compromise off of our lamps and let them shine in our hearts, our homes, our businesses, our churches, and our communities.

"Its About Time"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 19 Issue 32 October 25, 2009

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Galatians 4:4

They say time heals all wounds, it flies, it waits for no man. There is high time no time my time your time summer time supper time last time and the first time. Time is precious, time is money, time is spent, bought, saved, wasted and squandered. A time for planting and a time to harvest. Time can be appointed, appropriate, measured and zoned. There are former times, some time and some other time, daylight savings time and the all important just in time. Most people don’t take the time even if given time. Time changes things. There is prime time, this time and that time, telling time and time that tells. Bed time, bath time, quiet time, lost time and found time. We should redeem the time. There is current time, day time night time, time capsules, coffee time, local time, next time, long time, short time, free time, our time and for all of that there is time management. Of course we can’t forget every time, any time, real time, time travel, time tracking, exact time, his time, her time. There is a time to go and a time to stay, Then there’s the time traveler's wife. There is personal time, party time, big and small time, time shares and jail time, Time magazine, Time Square not to be confused with “around that time”, air time, prehistoric time, old time and part time. There is full time, response time, time keeping, making time, tea time, the passing of time and a times table. People kill time, race against time, and have down time. Time is running out, there’s no time to waste. There is double time, half time and time and a half, quick time, time after time, behind the times, a head of time, the same time, for the time being, and the kid’s favorite “Once upon a time”. Time is ripe, third times a charm, in less then no time. No one will give you the time of day, better luck next time. Pressed for time, hard time, easy time. In good time, a life time for a limited time only, time served, time warp, long time no see, whale of a time, and good time Charlie, a two time loser was on borrowed time. There is a stitch in time, family time, prayer time, and now take your time because today’s message is about time.

Some graffiti on a wall in a cafe in Austin, Texas, says, "Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once."

A philosopher wrote, "Time is the best teacher. Unfortunately, it kills all its pupils."

Classic theology says that God is timeless.

The concept was that God looks down on time from above much like we look down on the line drawn on paper.

My question then is simply, “does God know what time it is?"

I mean come on, if God sees the past, present and future as points on the time line, how can God know where we are now? If He sees tomorrow as if it were today, He sees a thousand years from now as if it were yesterday.

If God sees what’ll happen tomorrow, next year and the next 1,000 years on a time line all at the same time, then God really doesn’t know what time it is for us now. For Him it is all happening at the same time.

That graffiti scribbled on the wall seems to describe God's problem: "Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once." If God is timeless, then everything really is happening all at once! How can that make sense? It doesn’t work for me, it discounts the meaning of time for us.

A couple of Biblical references give some idea of what time is really like for God. Psalm 90:4 For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.

II Peter 3:8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day.

I believe the Bible asserts that God is everlasting, but not timeless. Everlasting means God had no beginning and will have no end, but the Biblical witness does not say that God is timeless or that God is somehow outside of our time.

It seems people have always been fascinated with the idea of time travel. It makes for interesting movies. In the ‘80s the movie Back to the Future, Marty McFly and the Doc whizzed back and forth from the past to the future in a Delorean equipped with a "flux capacitor." There were 2 sequels, but by the third movie, the past, present and future had changed so many times it was hard to keep up with it.

It may be best to leave time travel to the movies. It is much more meaningful to see God simply moving through time with us. It takes nothing from God, and adds everything to the importance of now.

I think God experiences time just like we do. The difference is that God knows everything that has happened and everything that is happening. And God knows what he intends to bring about in the future. He knows that because it is in his power to make it happen. But that does not mean that it has already happened, even in the mind of God. It does not mean that all of the future exists out there on a line already seen by God.

This view of time returns us to simple idea that now is all there is. And we must make the most of the now.

The Bible speaks of an opportune time, a time of testing, the right time, the appointed time, the acceptable time, the fullness of time, harvest time, all time, due time, a time to repent, a time for judging the dead, the last times, enough time and making the most of the time.

With NOW as all there is, we finish up where we started - It's about time. Isn't it about time for you to make a positive decision about your relationship with God?

You can't go back and make a decision in the past because the past is gone. And the future doesn't exist. All you have is right now. Isn't it about time to get your life right with God?

Ecclesiastes 3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

In 1965 the Byrds sang these very words in their hit single “Turn Turn Turn” composed to music by Pete Seager in 1959. They ended their rendition of this with these words “I swear its not too late”….

But folks it may be too late for as Steve Miller sang in his 1977 song “Fly like an eagle”, “Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin, into the future”.

Time, where did you go? Why did you leave me here alone?
Wait, don’t go so fast, I’m missing the moments as they pass
I should’ve known better, I shouldn’t have wasted those days
And afternoons and mornings. I threw them all away
Now this is my time, I’m going to make this moment mine.

The problem is that we mostly ignore this moment and choose instead to focus our attention on future events. In so doing, we miss almost everything life has to offer.

We have time for everything—but only now, and always now.

In Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird, she reflects: "I remind myself of this when I cannot get any work done: to live as if I'm dying, because the truth is we are all terminal on this bus. To live as if we are dying gives us a chance to experience some real presence. Time is so full for people who are dying in a conscious way, full in a way life is for children. They spend big, round hours. So, instead of staring miserably at the computer screen trying to will my way into having a breakthrough, I say to myself, "Okay, hmmm, let's see. Dying tomorrow. What should I do today?"

"Teach us to number our days," the psalmist says.

When we do that, when we count our days, most of us conclude that they're getting away from us, slipping by too quickly. Most of us can remember when a summer vacation from school stretched out ahead like an eternity, almost an endless future of hot, sunny days, June, July and all of August, and now how quickly time flies now, how years seem now to speed by as if they were months.

Perhaps our most frequently expressed lament is that we don't have enough time. Make the most of this very moment! Amen