020: The Personal Cost Of Biblical Misalignment

Devotional on Romans 6:15-18

My friend thrust a blindfold over my head, helped me bend over and press my forehead against a bat, and then told me to spin around 10 times.  I think I made it to 7 before falling over.  When I got back onto my feet I heard my team yell, “Run, run, run!”  I ran, alright. Unfortunately, my alignment wasn’t aided by my lack of sight and dizziness. I ran right out of the playing area, down a small decline, and straight onto my face. There are some summer camp games that I absolutely dislike, and this was one of them. Misalignment in that game meant pain, pure and simple. Misalignment for a Believer can be painful, too, when our life’s direction is not in alignment with Jesus’ direction…

Rom 020: Effective Faith [Video/Audio]

"Christianity 101" ... Romans 4:1-25, Part 3

He was probably a mild-mannered man following in his daddy’s business (as an idol maker), absolutely no one of consequence.  Yet, with just one character trait he managed to become one of the greatest heroes in human history.  Abraham believed God, revealing the effectiveness of faith…

019: Insights Into The Connection Between Choices And Grace

Devotional on Romans 6:8-14

There was about 60 of us sitting on couches, or the floor, or on top of each other, eating chips and cheeses, while we discussed questions like, “How far is too far?”  Or, “Ok, but, is it really a sin if I just did this?” Or, “But, I can do this, though, can’t I?”  The teens in my Ottawa youth group were candid about wanting to both connect with Jesus and also stay disconnected.  Dancing the line of Jesus’ grace and our choices created some fun talks. Now that I’m a lead pastor I’m finding that discussions of grace and choice still lead to some interesting discussions…

Rom 019: Why Faith Is Essential [Video/Audio]

"Christianity 101" ... Romans 4:1-25, Part 2

It’s about 1am or so, I’m dizzy from the event I just brought the youth group back from, the last teen was just picked up and now I’m standing all alone in the church foyer looking at a big puddle on the carpet from a new leak in the church’s roof.  Tomorrow’s Sunday, I definitely need to take care of this now.  But, it’s ok, because I know who to call for help.  One of our board members is always eager to step up whenever there’s a crisis.  He responds to my phone call and we clean the mess in under an hour.  His example of hard work and his willingness to always help has inspired me from my years as an intern until today as a lead pastor.  Examples of faith and faithfulness are worth hanging onto.  Just like Abraham’s example…

018: Why Alignment With Jesus’ Values Is Essential

Devotional on Romans 6:1-7

It was around 4am, I am dressed in the darkest clothes I own, and I’m following behind my friend to our target.  We have replaced the spray cap from the can of shaving cream with a cap from a can of bug spray in order to stay quiet and keep the mist light so that it gently settles onto the face of our fellow camp counsellor without him waking up.  We leave the cabin as quietly as we enter, hardly able to contain ourselves from laughing at the snow angel look-a-like we leave behind us.  Man, that’s an awesome memory I like to play over and over again.  It’s awesome because I’m still friends with that guy (not the snow angel, my fellow miscreant).  He’s about a foot taller than me, we don’t look alike at all, but we sure value the same kind of fun!  Our shared values have kept us friends through our teens into our forties.

Rom 018: Why Abraham Is A Good Example For You (part 1) [Video/Audio]

"Christianity 101" ... Romans 4:1-25, Part 1

I couldn’t believe how quickly he did it!  Within two weeks, my friend totally renovated his basement from just bare, concrete walls to fully functional family room.  He’s got a talent that I was completely lacking!  But, I’m not completely lacking it anymore because my friend has become my example – he’s volunteering to show me how to frame, run the electrical, drywall, and everything else I need to do.  I’m learning by example, and it’s a lot of fun.  Similarly, there’s a man named Abraham in the Old Testament that had a talent that I completely lacked.  His talent was so great that God chose to reward him.  But, there’s no reason for anyone to be completely lacking in his talent.  Everyone can follow Abraham’s example and receive the same reward.

017: What The Law Teaches You About Grace

Devotional on Romans 5:18-21

I know I’m sometimes naive, but I think I’ve known for a long time that Canadians have it pretty good. Nothing, though, really reveals that more clearly than seeing how badly life has become in other places of the world. Here’s something that I’ve found to be true: contrast brings clarity. That’s not only a practical truth, it’s also a spiritual truth. You, a person who is blessed with God’s grace, come to understand how great God’s grace is when you contrast it with the Old Testament Law.

Rom 017: Befriending God (part 3) [Video/Audio]

"Christianity 101" ... Romans 3:21-31, Part 3

A friend wanted to do something extravagantly nice for us, so she gave my wife and I tickets to see a musical.  Additionally (she felt this second part was less valuable), there was an offer of free babysitting cast into the gift.  (As parents of four, we can tell you that babysitting, alone, is an extravagant gift!)  The only condition was the requirement to get ourselves to the theatre where the musical was playing.  Now that’s an easy condition to meet!  Similarly, God wanted to do something extravagantly nice for you, so He offered you friendship.  He also gave you one condition: you need to show up at the location where the friendship is happening (namely, you need to believe in Jesus).  As this particular passage of Romans is concluded, you’re going to see that God’s free gift of friendship is both inclusive (freely given to everyone) and exclusive (there’s only one way to accept the friendship).

Rom 016: How To Befriend God (part 2) [Video/Audio]

"Christianity 101" ... Romans 3:21-31, Part 2

Well, in hindsight, yes I see it was a bad idea (but who lives in hindsight?!)  … I took my young son with me to a hospital in order to see someone who was recovering from surgery.  Because I’m a pastor some people seem to feel that I have a stronger stomach than others, so every gross detail of the procedure was explained to me, including lots of comments about veins and blood.  I’m getting used to these verbally-graphic and horrific (…don’t cringe, straight face, don’t faint, nod and smile) 80’s-gory-movie moments, but my son is absolutely not!  He fainted (thankfully, I caught him before he hit the floor), and then he asked me never to take him on another hospital visit again.  I’ve learned my lesson.  However, I can’t stop exposing him, or you, to gross and gory details while talking about Jesus.  Jesus’ blood is part of the reason we are able to befriend God.

016: Why Grace Is More Powerful Than Failure

Devotional on Romans 5:12-17

As I walked into his room, seeing me for the first time that day, my son became excited. He jumped at me and we fell crashing onto his bed as we wrestled each other. Unfortunately I was still wearing my glasses and they snapped in two as they bore the weight of his body against my face. His moment of joy turned into a moment of wide-eyed panic. But, all was well when he heard these magic words, “It’s ok, Pal, I’ll take care of it.” Grace covers over a multitude of failures for me, my kids, and also for you.