BLCF Cafe Community Dinner Reports Feeding A Record Number of Homeless and Marginalized in the Heart of Toronto

Q: When is a church more than just brick and mortar?
A: When the people of the church decide to provide for those who are homeless and disadvantaged in the heart of Toronto with a warm meal in an environment that is safe and friendly: BLCF Cafe Community Dinner.

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BLCF Cafe Community Dinner serving dinner to over 150 homeless and marginalized people weekly, (that’s over 7,500 annually), right in the heart of Toronto, relying solely on volunteer help and donations for funding. BLCF Cafe reported serving a record 250 guests Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner *(2013) and served meals on both Christmas Dinner (2013) and New Years Day (2014) without government funding or corporate sponsorship.  BLCF Café depends solely on a core of dedicate volunteers to get the job done and private donations and fund raising to finance the community dinners. 

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BLCF Cafe Community Dinner

BLCF Cafe Community Dinner Reports Feeding A Record Number of Homeless and Marginalized in the heart of Toronto

If you or your group are interested in volunteering to help feed the homeless and marginalized in the heart of Toronto, please contact Sophie at BLCF Cafe: Phone 416-535-9578 or email blcfcafe@yahoo.ca. You can make a difference in the life of Toronto’s disenfranchised as a BLCF Cafe volunteer!

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Transformed by the Touch of a Homeless Man – A True Story by Kent Holland

 

BLCF: feed-the-homeless
Transformed by the Touch of a Homeless Man – A True Story by Kent Holland

I had just sat down in the Philadelphia 30th Street Station and tucked myself comfortably behind a newspaper to await my train to Washington, D.C., when, to my dismay, I saw a homeless man walking up to me.  His approach was slow and deliberate. He stood before me, waiting for me to make eye contact.  When I finally looked up to acknowledge him, I was discomforted by this man, probably in his mid-forties, with dirt and grease on his hands and unkempt clothing.

What struck me most about him, though, were his indescribable eyes, eyes that seemed to know me, that seemed to penetrate right through me; that appeared be full of love, compassion and sorrow. Being a rational, unemotional lawyer, I tried quickly to put those thoughts out of my mind.  I thought I must be imagining things.

We looked at each other in silence for a moment and then he asked, “Sir, may I speak with you?”

My first thought was, “Oh no, here we go again, another bum begging for a handout.” I had never appreciated the plight of the needy.  They made me uncomfortable and perhaps a bit afraid.  I felt they should stop bothering people, and go out and get a job like everyone else.  I had apparently never learned (or perhaps I had forgotten) the Scripture that tells us:  “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”  1 John 3:17-18.

I wasn’t inclined to give this man any attention, and I certainly didn’t want to give him any money.  But he hadn’t asked for money.  He asked only: “May I speak with you?”  What kind of a question was that?  As I pondered him and his question, his incredible eyes gripped me.  Finally, I couldn’t remain seated any longer.  I stood up to face him.

“Will you feed me?” he asked.

I wasn’t prepared for that question.  As he continued to speak, his language seemed peculiarly articulate, and his words became increasingly strange and disquieting.  He spoke like a well-educated and intelligent man, not at all like what I would have expected based on my image of him.

All around me, finely dressed men and women hurried off to dinners, shows, and business meetings.  Others, like myself, looked forward to getting home to their families.  Many milled about in the cathedral-like structure, with its spacious halls and its magnificent columns rising to meet beautifully carved and painted ceilings high above.  Others slept. Some chatted with colleagues or friends.  Others sat idly, lost in thought, daydreams or fantasies.

I wondered why he had so intentionally picked me out of this mass of people.  So, I asked him, “With all these people sitting around daydreaming, why did you choose me? Why did you pick me from behind a newspaper?”

“Because,” he answered, “you look like a gentlemen with whom I should speak.”  Those were his actual words.

This homeless man actually used better grammar than I normally do.  He sounded like an English teacher and I wondered,  “What’s going on here?”

Even stranger than his speech was the fact that instead of asking for money, he said his purpose in approaching me was that he thought he “should speak” with me. Now, this got my interest.  What could he possibly have to say to me?  In my cynical heart, I was disdainful and critical of this man.  He looked like he was perfectly capable of working for a living, but had chosen to live the life of a bum instead. I just came right out and challenged him, saying,

“You’re obviously a well-educated man.  You speak better than I do.  Why aren’t you working instead of being on the street?”

“I’m glad you asked that,” he replied. “I hoped that you would permit me to share something with you.  I’m a pharmacist by training.  For twenty years I was employed as the pharmacist at a hospital right here in town.  Life was good.  I had a wife and two children.  I had a nice house.  I thought I had it all.  Yes, life was good; until the day I received a phone call at the pharmacy telling me that my house had burned down and my wife and children had perished in the flames.”

Perhaps his story would have made me suspicious since it had obvious potential as a good come-on for a beggar to use.  But truth was in his teary eyes.  Even the genuine sadness in the matter-of-fact way he told his story made it impossible for me to doubt its truth. He went on to explain his situation.

“After losing my family, I could no longer think clearly. I couldn’t concentrate well enough to make a prescription. But even if I could, I no longer had any desire for my job since I had lost my whole reason for living.   Everything I lived for was gone.  I’ve been on the streets ever since, talking to men like you who need to know.  I share with them, and eat with them, but I never ask for money.  It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten, and I’m very hungry, will you feed me?”

Looking back on the scene now, I’m embarrassed to say that by this point in the conversation I was still clueless about what was happening here.  My insensitive and foolish response was to offer a couple dollars so he could buy something.  He looked at me with kind eyes and gently declined my offer of money.

Once again, he asked:  “Will you please feed me?”

Did he mean this literally and, if so, what did he expect me to do?  I asked if I could buy him a burger and fries at the McDonald’s located in the station.  But this was not what he had in mind. Instead, he asked me to join him for lunch at the small atrium-like cafe located in what might be described as a chapel hall just off the main cathedral of the station.

At this point, I didn’t know what to say.  What could I say to this increasingly mysterious man who had picked me out a crowd and then confidently directed me to the specific café where he expected me to join him for lunch?

I had a train to catch but, as I considered the homeless man, my heart was strangely moved.  What began as a passing thought that perhaps I might as well sit down with this man for a few minutes became a compelling desire to do just that.  The train could wait.  There would be another one later. Talking with this man had become the single most important thing I could do at that moment, even though I didn’t understand why.

We went over to the cafe and ordered a good meal.  We sat together and talked for quite a while. Our conversation touched on issues that I wouldn’t normally discuss with an acquaintance of many years.  He asked me questions about myself and what I was doing with my life.  Perhaps my guilty conscience made me imagine things, but it seemed that he knew things about me that I didn’t want him to know.  I felt like he could see the immorality that was ruling my life, and that I was well on the way to destroying my marriage and family.  Without actually saying so, he seemed to know that I was living for my own self-gratification, driven by the desire for prestige, power, and enough money to gain financial independence.  My life style could be described by the motto: “I want it all, and I want it now!”  One of my friends even printed that saying on a large button and fastened it to the lampshade in my law office.

Finishing our meal, I rose to leave.  He turned to me then and asked: “Will you make me a promise?”  I must have given him a surprised and bewildered look.  He held my eyes with his as he said, “Think about this. The next time you see someone who is poor, needy or homeless, remember me!  I once had everything you have now.  I had a wife, two children, a good job and a home.  I lost them all in an instant.  The difference between you and me is so small.  You could lose everything as quickly as I lost it.  Remember me.  And remember that all you have is by the grace of God.”

When he spoke of the grace of God I thought of how often I had heard preachers, parents and teachers speak similar words.  They had always seemed so trite.  Coming from this man, however, I was awestruck by the simplicity and truth of this statement.  In that moment, I experienced an odd sensation. I felt that his words had hit hard right where I needed to be hit.  Even as I stood there, I found myself thinking that this man got to me like no preacher or teacher ever managed to do.  I had often quoted the scripture saying “It is by grace you are saved, through faith … it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9).  But I had forgotten the very next verse which states that we are created by God to do good works (vs.10).   Then there is the Scripture in the New Testament book that says:  “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well, keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:15-16). I can tell you that as I stood before the homeless man my eyes were opened to the fact that my own faith was bogus.  It wasn’t real.  It was mere words.  It wasn’t backed up with action.  My faith was dead.

The homeless man wasn’t even done with me yet. Looking steadily into my eyes, he asked: “The next time you see a homeless person or a someone in need, will you feed them, will you care for them, will you clothe them, will you meet their need?  Don’t give them money. That isn’t what they need.   They need you.  Will you give them of yourself?  Will you love them?”  This final question stunned me.

An uncomfortably long moment passed while I thought about it.  Quietly, almost reverentially, I replied, “I will.” His eyes gleamed as he smiled and wished me well.  As I boarded the next train for Washington, the impact of what had happened to me in Philadelphia and how it was going to fundamentally change my life had not yet dawned on me.  This homeless man had ministered to me in a powerful and moving way.  A day has rarely gone by since then that I have not remembered him with his incredible, loving eyes, peering into me.  I often wonder about him and whether he could have led me to such a change without this being a divine appointment.  As a new love and compassion seemed to well up inside of me from depths previously unknown, I realized that when I said “yes” to the homeless man, I had said yes to God.

As the days and weeks passed after that, I found myself practically walking on air with a deep sense of peace and joy.  I began talking to people and taking an interest in people that I previously would have crossed the street to avoid.  While traveling in other cities since then, I have found myself asking homeless men to join me for dinner, buying bus and train tickets for men who claim they need to get home, and spending time listening to them and talking with them. That might seem like odd behavior for even a man much more spiritual than I.  It was certainly extraordinary behavior for me.

Having no rational, reasonable explanation for my transformation, I concluded that I had experienced a spiritual encounter of a most dramatic kind.  In my search for the source of this new experience, I bought a copy of an easy to read version of the Bible, The New International Version (“NIV”).  One of the first passages to catch my attention was in the first book of the New Testament, at Matthew, chapter 25, which describes a scene when people will be brought before the “heavenly throne.”  Two large groups of people are standing before the King.  One group He blesses and the other He rejects.

To those He blesses He says: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  To the surprise of the good people who say that they don’t know when they did any of these things for the King, He will respond: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  And for a final irony, he turns to all those people standing at his other side and tells them they are cursed and must depart his company because they didn’t care for Him when He was in need.

The startled outcry of these people is that they attended religious services and were good and decent folks, and surely there must be some sort of mistake because they never saw the King hungry or thirsty, or a stranger or needing clothes, or otherwise needing help. But the King responds, “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

As I think about all the homeless and needy people I have ignored and passed by, while secure in my belief that I was acceptable to God because I put my faith in Him and attempted to live a good life, my heart aches with the knowledge that by ignoring these people who needed me, I have ignored and rejected God.

Much of organized religion today makes a great show of pomp and ceremony but seems to be lost in empty words, lacking any godly purpose or mission. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God tells the people “Stop bringing meaningless offerings.  Your incense is detestable to me. . . When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers I will not listen.” (Is. 1:13). This is rather dramatic.  In fact, it’s how I felt in my own life. Just as he wasn’t listening to their prayers, He wasn’t responding to my prayers either.  Why? God rejected their empty worship, and told them the kind of religion he wants to see.  He says: “Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow (Is. 1: 17).  So what is the Religion that God accepts?

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….” James 1:27.

The Bible states that we are to live by the Spirit of God and bear the fruit of the Spirit, including “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”  (Galatians 5:22-23). If we take this seriously and ask ourselves whether we are genuinely experiencing and bearing these “fruit,” I believe we will see that each of us needs to accept the homeless man’s challenge, to make the decision from the depths of our being, to say yes to those in need, and to give consistently of ourselves (a listening ear, a helpful hand, and a compassionate heart).  This includes sharing ourselves and God’s compassionate love with not only those who have physical needs but also with those who have spiritual and emotional needs — not only those who are strangers to us, but those who are our colleagues at work, family members, club members, and neighbors.  This radical personal transformation of bearing fruit, giving of ourselves  (not just our money and our words), is the natural result of answering the call of the homeless man, answering the call of God.

When I said yes, my life dramatically changed.  An empty chasing of success has been replaced with a life of  significance.  I still earn my living as a construction lawyer, but where I find true peace, contentment and joy is through the experience of God’s love – especially when I share that love with others in meaningful ways.  How about you?  Have you heard the call?  How are you answering?  Are you saying yes?

J. Kent Holland, Jr. 6505 Chesterfield Ave. McLean, VA 22101 703-623-1932  Kent@KentHolland.com
BLCF Church: volunteers the heart of the community

             Matthew 25:35-40 (ESV)

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

Whom Do We Seek to Edify: Ourselves or His Church?

BLCF: Towers - Aspire to Heaven or Inspired from Heaven

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Whom Do We Seek to Edify: Ourselves or His Church?’

© June 18, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 19, 2016

Based on a Message shared at BLCF Church on June 2, 2013

Confusion Of Tongues

Confusion of Tongues from the Tower of Babel

 

Announcements & Call to Worship:  Responsive Reading #650 (Trials and Temptations – James 1 and 1Peter1); Prayer                                                                                                            

Hymn #398: I Come to the Garden Alone; Choruses                                                    

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                                        

Today’s Scriptures: Psalm 2:1-6; Genesis 11:1-9; 1 Corinthians 14:6-18

Tower of Babel

Confusion of Tongues

 

Let us pray…

At first blush it would seem that the topic of this Sunday’s message has something to do just with languages or tongues.  While the account of the Tower of Babel does explain how it is that we have such a diversity of languages and people over the face of the earth, there is much more to the story, which may sound familiar to a lesson we recently shared, that being how Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, Chapter 3.

You may recall that Satan appealed to Eve and Adam, who was with her, that by eating the forbidden fruit, they would be elevated to the same level as God in their understanding of good and evil. Fearing that they would next eat from the Tree of Life, God exiled Adam and Eve from the garden both as a punishment for their transgressions and to prevent them from committing another sin. Genesis 3:22-24 (ESV):

 

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin

 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Now, back to the tower. For centuries, the human race has aspired to be at a higher plane, as evident by the building of structures such as the Eiffel Tower, Empire State building, CN Tower, Burj of Dubai, and so on. Like the Tower of Babel, most of these towers afford an overview of relatively low nearby terrain.  I recall when the CN Tower was just completed in Toronto there was a three month wait for dinner reservations at the tower restaurant. We had some friends of my sister visiting from Sydney, Australia. My dad thought it would be nice to take them to restaurant and enjoy the view of the city and Lake Ontario, as far as Rochester, New York. On the evening of the reservation, a foggy cloud bank rolled in, and all you see from the tower were portions of Toronto Island.

The Tower of Babel was intended, by its builders, to be constructed both, to bring them closer to Heaven, and as a monument to those builders, so that they would not be forgotten from history or their descendants disappeared or were dispersed. Genesis 11:1-9 (ESV)

       The Tower of Babel

                                      BLCF: Tower-Babel                               

11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

It is ironic that a tower built as a testimony to its builders, so that they would not be forgotten or dispersed, ended up being the reason God made them become no longer unified in language and they were dispersed throughout the world.  History indicates that the tower eroded so that the lower portions fell away. There were some writings that indicate that Alexander the Great had located the remnants of this tower and intended to rebuild it. This plan was abandoned after the untimely death of King Alexander. Which brings us to the next Scripture verse, Psalm 2:1-6 (ESV):  

The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed

BLCF: You-Are-Anointed-for-Service

2 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

To aspire for something, is a desire to reach a higher plane, where, by definition:

as·pire  /əˈspī(ə)r/

Verb

  • Direct one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something: “we never thought that we might aspire to those heights”.
  • Rise high; tower.

People seek to achieve or they aspire, not to be confused with inspire, as in the works of the Holy Spirit. The definition of inspire is as follows:

in·spire /inˈspī(ə)r/

Verb

  • Fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative: “his enthusiasm inspired them”.
  • Create (a feeling, esp. a positive one) in a person: “inspire confidence”.

Those who aspire seek to be filled with pride in self, while those who inspire, seek to have others filled with the Holy Spirit. An example of aspiration may be found in the sonnet, High Flight written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. Portions of this poem appear on the headstones of many interred in Arlington National Cemetery, in the U.S., particularly aviators and astronauts. John Gillespie Magee, Jr. was an American Pilot Officer serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was born in Shanghai, China in 1922, the son of missionary parents, Reverend and Mrs. John Gillespie Magee; his father was an American and his mother was originally a British citizen.

Magee came to the U.S. in 1939 and earned a scholarship to Yale, but in September 1940 he enlisted in the RCAF and was graduated as a pilot. He was sent to England for combat duty in July 1941.

In August or September 1941, Pilot Officer Magee composed High Flight and sent a copy to his parents. Several months later, on December 11, 1941 his Spitfire collided with another plane over England and Magee, only 19 years of age, crashed to his death. His remains are buried in the churchyard cemetery at Scopwick, Lincolnshire.

(Biography courtesy of the United States Air Force http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/highflig.htm)

High Flight – By John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

High Flight

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr.

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds

– and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of

– wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.

Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along

and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

“Up, up the long delirious burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,

where never lark, or even eagle, flew;

and, while with silent, lifting mind

I’ve trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space,

put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

While the sonnet is beautifully worded, it is an example of the flesh’s desire or aspiration to reach God in a manner this is not in harmony with the Spirit of God. An irony here is that the author, a son of missionaries, composed prose that presumes the protagonist, a pilot, could fly high enough in something he built to touch the face of God.

To reach God and Heaven requires neither a tower, nor an aircraft, nor any other worldly means. To reach the Spiritual plane mandates us not to take actions that are the result of aspiration, but to follow inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit to achieve that state of Spiritual Grace which allows us to lead others to find His Grace, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (ESV):

 Mystery and Victory:           

BLCF: Witnesses-Taken-Up-Into-Heaven

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:             

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O death, where is your victory?     

O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God,

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ  

So we see in this passage, the mystery is to the flesh, which is of the world, and the victory goes to the Holy Spirit. And to achieve this state of Grace, we must replace our human impulses by our faith in Jesus Christ, Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV):

                                      Jesus the Great High Priest                                  

BLCF: Jesus_Grest_High_Priest

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

You may recall that after being anointed by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was taken to a desolate place, where he fasted and was tested by Satan. Jesus was brought to a high place and offered by Satan all authority over all that he saw from that great height. But Satan failed to tempt Jesus, as our Lord did not aspire to grow his own personal power and authority or to be placed upon an equal plane with God the Father. Instead, Jesus, in a perfect example of faith, replaced conceit and ambition with humility and obedience, Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV):

Christ’s Example of Humility 

                   BLCF: Jesus washes desciples feet                            

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

And the confusion we still observe from Babel today, tends to interfere with not only building of towers of aspiration, but the building of the church body if we aspire to build the church in a worldly manner. Such confusion hampers both the health and growth of the church body, 1 Corinthians 14:6-18 (ESV):

BLCF: building-up-the-church-2

 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.

 

The body of members that compose any church are subject to a Spiritual standard where the mind and the spirit are in harmony. This facilitates an understanding among the members and eliminates confusion and misunderstandings which hamper growth of the church body through the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Hymn #355: Higher Ground (I’m Pressing on the Upward Way)

Benediction (Colossians 3:17):                                                                                          

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

BLCF: Colossians_3_17

God’s Love: It Makes the Intangible, Tangible

BLCF: God's Universe

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘God’s Love: It Makes the Intangible, Tangible’

 © June 12, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 12, 2016

BLCF: in-tangible

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #594:                                                God’s Commandments (-from Exodus 20 and Matthew 22);                                                       Prayer

Opening Hymn #199: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship; Choruses                                                                                                                                     

Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings;                                    Prayer Requests  

Scriptures: Jeremiah 2:1-22, Hebrews 12:18-29, Matthew 22:34-40

Let us pray…

There is a challenge to the Christian church today, especially as completing Christ’s Gospel, unto the ends of the earth. Demonstrating to people who dwell in a tangible world, the realties of a God who may seem to have an intangible existence.

But before we begin today’s lesson, ‘God’s Love: It Makes the Intangible, Tangible’, let us check our Wikibit sources for a definition of terms used within today’s lesson:

Tangible – 1580-90; < Late Latin tangibilis, equivalent to Latin tang (ere) to touch + -ibilis -ible

adjective

  1. capable of being touched; discernible by the touch; material or substantial.
  2. real or actual, rather than imaginary or visionary: the tangible benefits of sunshine.
  3. definite; not vague or elusive: no tangible grounds for suspicion.
  4. (of an asset) having actual physical existence, as real estate or chattels, and therefore capable of being assigned a value in monetary terms.

noun

  1. something tangible, especially a tangible asset.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/tangible

intangible

adjective

1. not tangible; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch, as incorporeal or immaterial things; impalpable.

2. not definite or clear to the mind: intangible arguments.

3. (of an asset) existing only in connection with something else, as the goodwill of a business.

noun
  1. something intangible, especially an intangible asset: Intangibles are hard to value.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/intangible

For bookkeepers and accountants, who  must balance ledgers and deal with assets that that are either tangible or intangible. Sometimes the intangible assets are called goodwill assets. The interesting aspect of a tangible asset is that it depreciates each year, so that after several years, the tangible asset no longer has any book value. By contrast, intangible assets hold their value and very often grow in value over time. Consider the trademark for McDonald’s  Restaurants, the double arches. The value of this intangible asset is far more valuable today than when the trademark was first adopted:

Q: What is the difference between goodwill and tangible assets?

By Investopedia | January 8, 2015 — 2:11 AM EST

A: Companies can own two type of assets: tangible and intangible. Tangible assets are assets that take physical form. These are made up of fixed assets, such as buildings, vehicles and machinery. They are also composed of current assets, which include cash and inventory. Goodwill is a form of intangible asset, along with the likes of contracts and patents. Although an intangible asset does not have a physical form, it still provides value to the company. Tangible assets are far easier to liquidate than intangible assets; machinery and buildings have a secondary market.

Goodwill is created as the result of the purchase of one company by another at a premium. It represents the difference between the price paid by the purchaser and the target company’s book value. It reflects the premium paid for a company’s reputation, technology, brands and other less tangible attributes.

Given that goodwill arises as a residual portion of the purchase price, it cannot be measured directly. It can be independently appraised on assumptions based on the excess value of the business being purchased.

For tangible assets, if there is an anticipated useful life of more than one year, then there is a requirement for the assets’ worth to be depreciated over their useful lives. Prior to 2001, accounting rules required goodwill to be amortized over a period of up to 40 years. However, in 2001, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued an accounting pronouncement that ended automatic amortization of goodwill. As a result, goodwill is now measured annually to determine whether there has been an impairment loss. If there is no impairment, goodwill can remain on a company’s balance sheet indefinitely.

http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/010815/what-difference-between-goodwill-and-tangible-assets.asp

Thinking of the phrase “Peace on Earth to men of goodwill” makes me consider how the growth of believers or the faith of Christians, that is the growth of this  goodwill or intangible aspect of Christ’s Gospel message adopted by members of Christ’s Church continues to accumulate and grow over time, unaffected by the rules of depreciation that occur if these assets were tangible in nature.

 

BLCF: make-the-intangible-tangible

We know that there is the promise, that where two or more are gathered in the Lord’s name, then He is there in Spirit. I believe this call indicates that two or more people are gathered together in His name, then He will be there in the Spirit, indicates how the Spirit rewards those believers who gather and call on the Lord, as we find in BLCF at each Sunday Morning Prayer and Worship Service, as well at Wednesday Prayer and Bible Study, as well at other functions of BLCF Church. By definition, the Church is comprised of the believers who assemble together in this space.

Often non-believers, and some believers – remember Thomas, the disciple, seek tangible proof of the Gospel of Jesus, including Christ’s resurrection and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

It could be argued that radio and television broadcasts, though enriching to the viewers, may find that the Spirit is not present to the viewers, as viewers are not gathered with each other physically in the virtual reality of a televised setting. What a televised or radio church service lacks is the interaction or dialog between the viewers and those gathered at the broadcast. The same issue occurs when one views a church service recorded on DVD, digital file, or streamed on the internet. While viewing a broadcast or recorded church gathering may be inspiring, the viewers are technically not assembled or gathered at the place where the broadcast originates.

Then there is the problem of the time delay of the broadcast. Even a so called “live” telecast may be delayed some seconds or minutes to the viewers. Some broadcasts are recorded and broadcasts some hours, days, months or years later. It is possible that the minister and parts of the congregation may have passed away and have been called home to the Lord, which means that while the viewer may think that he or she is participating in a “live’ service with other living participants; the others only exist in image.

Let is not get off on a tangent, which an expression that had its roots in mathematics, to describe a situation where we loose touch with the substance of our discussion. Let us look at our first Scripture passage, from  Jeremiah 2:1-22,  where the people of Israel forsake God, to worship tangible idols and non-existent gods such as Baal:

 

  Jeremiah 2:1-22 (ESV) Israel Forsakes the Lord

BLCF: Jeremiah2_13

 

2 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 

 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord,

“I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.”

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:

“What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’

And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.                                                                                                                   

The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’  Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds[a] transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.

“Therefore I still contend with you, declares the Lord, and with your children’s children I will contend.10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing. 11 Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.

12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord,13 for my people have committed two evils:                                                                                                                 

they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

14 “Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey? 15 The lions have roared against him; they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.16 Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved[b] the crown of your head. 17 Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God,  when he led you in the way?

18 And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drink the waters of the Euphrates?[c] 19 Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts.

20 “For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore.

21 Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine? 22 Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord God.

Footnotes: a. Jeremiah 2:8 Or rulers b. Jeremiah 2:16 Hebrew grazed c. Jeremiah 2:18 Hebrew the River

 

BLCF: BelievingTheGospel_ChiselBlog

 

The Gospel of Christ is filled with in intangibles such as: love, faith, hope, sin, guilt, worship, prayer, forgiveness, sanctification and God’s Covenants. Then there are some of the tangible aspects of Jesus. which include: the crucifixion, the Scriptures, providing for the needs of the poor, partaking the elements of communion.

Now there is a third category, which I would like to  describe as physical or tangible expressions of our intangible God: the miracles, including the Word made flesh, the resurrection of Christ, the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit to every believer, as well our promised resurrection and eternal life with the Lord.

Hebrews 12:18-29 (ESV) A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

BLCF: Hebrews 12_29

 

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 12:23 Or church

 

The Kingdom of God is not of this world and therefore not subject to destruction that occurs to structures and other tangibles, today.

 

Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV) The Great Commandment

BLCF: 2_Commandments

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Of all the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses for the People of Israel, the two that Jesus spoke describe intangible aspects of our relationship with God and our neighbor, which is love. Love is not subject to worldly influences. The other Eight Commandments deal with property, and physical tangible aspects of our relationships, which makes them of lesser importance than how we deal with our God and neighbor. If we apply love to any or all of the Ten Commandments, we would expect a positive outcome in our relationship with God, except for the issue of sin.

Sin inhibits our ability to successfully adhere or follow the Ten Commandments. In this regard, all of us fail and fall short of God’s glory. However, God loved us so much, that He gave us His only Son, Jesus as a propitiation for sin. While Jesus’ sacrifice does not eliminate sin, it takes away the judgement of death for sin. In place of death of the death penalty, God makes provision for the final sacrifice by way of Jesus’ death on the cross. And the resurrected Christ, who ascended to heaven leads to the gifting of the companion of the Holy Spirit. We see that each stage of salvation and reconciliation has a tangible and intangible aspect. Christ was born, ministers, died, was resurrected from death and ascended to heaven, which are all tangibles. And all of these aspects of Christ’s Gospel are impossible without the intangible Godly attributes of love, compassion, faith, hope, and the Spirit’s influence.

 

John 1:14 (ESV) Word Made Flesh

BLCF: Word_made_flesh

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #374: Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord

Benediction – (Romans 12:2): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

A Childlike Faith – Expressed By Our Trust, Obedience and Hope

BLCF: Child-Like Faith

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘A Childlike Faith – Expressed By Our Trust, Obedience and Hope’

 © June 5, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 5, 2016

BLCF: Childlike-Faith

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #610:

Christ in Prophecy (-from Isaiah 11 and 42, Jeremiah 23, Malachi 4); Prayer

Opening Hymn #41: Children of the Heavenly Father;

Choruses 

Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings;                                       

Prayer Requests                                                                                                          

Scriptures: Isaiah 11:1-6, Matthew 18:1-6, Matthew 19:13-14

 

BLCF: called to have childlike faith

Let us pray…

Good  morning and welcome to our BLCF Church’s morning Praise and Worship Service., where we have for our lesson this Sunday morning, entitled: A Childlike Faith – Expressed By Our Trust, Obedience and Hope.

But before we begin our lesson, let us examine what is meant by the term “childlike”, not to be confused with “childish”, as we see in our Wikibits sources:

 

Childlike vs Childish

BLCF: childlike vs childish

Childlike – resembling, suggesting, or appropriate to a child or childhood; especially :  marked by innocence, trust, and ingenuousness <childlike delight>

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/childlike

Childish –  1.  Of, relating to, or befitting a child or childhood

  1. Marked by or suggestive of immaturity and lack of poise <a childish spiteful remark> b : lacking complexity : simple <it’s a childish device, but it works> c :  deteriorated with age especially in mind :  senile

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/childish

Question: “Does the Bible instruct us to have childlike faith?”

 

BLCF: childlike_vs_childish

So, as the disciples focus on what constitutes “greatness” in heaven, Jesus provides a new perspective: the way “up” is “down.” Meekness is required (cf. Matthew 5:5). Jesus exhorts the disciples (and us) to seek to possess a childlike modesty in addition to their faith. Those who willingly take the lowest position are the greatest in heaven’s eyes. A young child is destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness and is therefore a good example for us. Children are characteristically humble and teachable. They aren’t prone to pride or hypocrisy. Humility is a virtue rewarded by God; as James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).

http://www.gotquestions.org/childlike-faith.html

As this Sunday falls between the two Sundays  where honor parents, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we must be mindful that every Sunday honors our Father in heaven. And in order to be a father or mother, we must have a child.

The Bible indicates in Isaiah 11:1-6, that in the final days, “a child will lead them”:

Isaiah 11:1-6 (ESV) The Righteous Reign of the Branch

BLCF: Root_of_Jesse

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

 In the above Scripture, the “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” and “a branch from his roots shall bear fruit”, where Jesse is the father of David, and the branch from the roots is Mary, whose offspring or fruit is her child Jesus, also the Son of God.

Traditionally in Jewish tradition, a child who is under age is not allowed to worship in the temple. In the Temple in Jerusalem, the presence of God in the Ark of the Covenant could only be approached by the High Priests, then followed in order of proximity a succession of courts: Court of Israelites (men), Court of Women, and Court of Gentiles.

 

1_temple_4_courts

With the arrival of Jesus, all who have faith and confess their sins are permitted access to God.

Matthew 19:13-14 (ESV) Let the Children Come to Me

BLCF: children

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Childlike behavior notwithstanding, we see in Matthew 18:1-6, two of the disciples allowing their proximity to the Lord go to their head, asking Jesus who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Matthew 18:1-6 (ESV) Who Is the Greatest?

BLCF: faith-like-a-child-1

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 18:6 Greek causes… to stumble; also verses 8, 9

 Jesus tells  the disciples ,that in order to achieve a great status in heaven, must humble themselves here in the world. Just like the lesson of the Goats and Sheep that we studied last week where we honor and serve the Lord when we serve the least of our brothers and sisters, Christ reinforced this idea when, like a servant, he washed the feet of the disciples as an example of humility in faith. And we must teach the Gospel of Christ  to others and receive members to the church, which is the body of believers, we have to preserve and protect their faith as we would do with the life of a child.

Let us pray… 

Communion: Matthew 26:26-29 (See Below):

Matthew 26:26-29 (ESV) Institution of the Lord’s Supper

BLCF: Communion Sunday

2Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 26:28 Some manuscripts insert new

Closing Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine

Benediction – (Romans 15:13):

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

BLCF: Rejoice_and_be_Glad

 

God’s Ministry and Discipleship at the BLCF Café

least_of_my_brothers_and_sisters

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

God’s Ministry and Discipleship at the BLCF Café’

© May 29, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 29, 2016

BLCF: The Least of These

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding                                                              

Opening Hymn #302: I Love to Tell the Story                                                                                                                                       

Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings; Prayer Requests                                                                                                                          

Scriptures: Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 19:16-22, Ecclesiastes 5:10-17

BLCF: sheep-goats

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, where we will incorporate into this morning’s Praise and Worship Service with our annual meeting to members and adherents, followed by a Pot Luck luncheon.

Considering the fact that BLCF’s primary Gospel outreach is the church’s hosting some 150 homeless and marginalized guests every Wednesday evening at the BLCF Café Community Dinner, it is not surprising that the lesson today is entitled: ‘God’s Ministry and Discipleship at the BLCF Café.’

Considering the subject of today’s lesson, it is fitting that we have  Matthew 25:31-46 as our first Scripture verse, which happens to be the same Scripture used as the Mission Statement of the BLCF Café and is posted behind the main serving table at the community dinner.

Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV) The Final Judgment

BLCF: Goats and Sheep

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The Matthew 25 passage, entitled  The Final Judgment, Jesus reveals how the Final Judgement will have our righteousness will determine whether we suffer eternal punishment or be rewarded with eternal life, based upon our attitude and service that we give the least of our brothers and sisters. The only way we honor Jesus as Lord, is when we give the poor our unconditional love and compassion.

When we feed, clothe, and help those in need, through humble service, we demonstrate our membership to the flock of Christ, following the Lord’s teaching and example, when he humbly served his disciples by washing their feet.

The focus on feeding the poor and less fortunate is again demonstrated in the second of today’s Scripture verses in Matthew 19:16-22, when the Lord explains to a wealthy young man what the difference exists between a “good deed”  or a perfect or righteous act is expected to receive eternal life as a heavenly reward. Jesus explains that there is more expected that just being obedient to the Law, the young man must surrender his earthly wealth and riches to the poor and less fortunate. This saddened the young man, as he was not willing to give away what he valued on earth and place his faith in the hope of a heavenly reward, a treasure from God.

 

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV) The Rich Young Man

BLCF: Christ-rich-young-ruler-hoffmanl

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The Parable of the Goats and Sheep,  contrasts believers’ true righteous faith by the flock of sheep’s obedient  following the Lord’s example of humble servitude to others, as compared to the herd of goats who are typically stubborn and frequently need to be driven and directed.

The difference between those who desire to accumulate earthy treasures and those who choose to desire to bank on a heavenly treasure come in our third Scripture verse,  Ecclesiastes 5:10-17, which describes accumulating worldly treasures as a grievous evil, a vanity, as it indicates actions that are self-centered that can only lead to vexation, sickness and anger.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:10-17 (ESV)

BLCF: Ecclesiastes__5_10-17

10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

We see that our choice between worldly wealth or treasures I heaven, reveals the nature of our hearts desire, and how we will be judged on the day the Lord returns, in Matthew 6:19-21.

 

 Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

BLCF: materialism_vs_treasuresinheaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.                                                                        

Footnotes: a. Matthew 6:19 Or worm; also verse 20

Our righteousness and faith in following the Lord’s example, allows us to be reborn into a new life, with the promise of a reward more precious that gold, which is the salvation of our souls and the eternal life that was sought by the rich young man, 1 Peter 1:3-9.

 

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) Born Again to a Living Hope

BLCF: 1Peter3_9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Let us pray…

BLCF: annual_report

BLCF Annual Reports for 2014 and 2015

Closing Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus  

Benediction – (Romans 12:2):

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

BLCF: Romans-12-2

Pot Luck Luncheon

BLCF: potluck_lucheon

 

Oops! Nobody’s Perfect

BLCF: keep-calm-because-nobody-s-perfect

blcfchurch – Yahoo Mail

A Sanctuary to Preserve the Good and the Holy: Designed by God; Built by Man; on Christ’s Foundation

BLCF: Covenant-of-God

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘A Sanctuary to Preserve the Good and the Holy: Designed by God; Built by Man; on Christ’s Foundation’        

 © May 22, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 22, 2016

Based  on a Message shared at BLCF on March 23 2014

BLCF: God's_Promise_to_Noah_in_the_Rainbow

 Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #592 (God, The Creator – Genesis 1 and 2, Psalm 33); Prayer

Opening Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less; Choruses

Scripture Verses: Genesis 6:1-3, 2 Peter 2:4-10, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Genesis 6:1-3 (ESV) Increasing Corruption on Earth

BLCF: Genesis_6_5

6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with

2 Peter 2:4-10 (ESV)

BLCF: fallen-angels

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell[a] and committed them to chains[b] of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;[c] and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,[d] and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge[e] in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

BLCF: body is a temple for the Spirit

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus b. 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts pits c. 2 Peter 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly d. 2 Peter 2:9 Or temptations e. 2 Peter 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh

BLCF: Sign_of_Noah

Let us pray…

For the Call to Worship this morning, we read a Responsive Reading, which is an abstract of Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2, as well as Psalm 33. This reading gives us an account of God’s creation, where we read that God saw His creation as being “good”.

We fast forward to the Scripture verses, which describe a world where God’s creation becomes progressively corrupt. As the timeline is after Adam and Eve’s fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden, we may conclude that the root of the corruption of the human race is sin.

Because of the corruption and sin, God comments that His Spirit will not abide or contend with man forever and limits the span of human life to 120 years. In fact, God is grieved so much by the sin that He contemplates the destruction of all life, (of all flesh), upon the face of the earth. However, there remained one good man named Noah, who God judged walked a righteous path. Therefore, Noah was blameless of sin and did not deserve the judgement of death that was due to rest of sinful humanity.

Our first Scripture verse comes from Genesis, Chapter 6, where the Lord instructed Noah to build an ark to preserve the remnants of good from what He had created. That good remnant consisted of Noah, Noah’s family, and the animals that God had created.

We all know the story of the Great Flood, where God rendered His judgment upon the world by a massive flood, as we see that He instructed Noah to construct an ark in Genesis 6, verses 9-22:

Genesis 6:9-22 (ESV) Noah and the Flood

BLCF: ark_dimension

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,[a] for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.[b] Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits,[c] its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof[d] for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.                                                          

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:13 Hebrew The end of all flesh has come before me b. Genesis 6:14 An unknown kind of tree; transliterated from Hebrew c. Genesis 6:15 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters d. Genesis 6:16 Or skylight

BLCF: Noah_the_truth

A flood can be an extremely frightening and deadly experience. Now I am not talking about the Hollywood portrayal with Russell Crowe as Noah,  the Master and Commander of the ark. If you have witnessed a flash flood, as periodically occurs in the southwestern United States, you have some idea of the deadly ferocity unleashed by a sudden deluge.

BLCF: Gonzales-Warm-Springs-Texas

                         Gonzales Warm Springs Texas

I recall when I was a young boy in Texas, my younger sister, Rhona, had at the age of 3 years, had suffered a traumatic spinal injury leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. At the time, San Antonio had no rehabilitation center for young children and so Rhona was sent to Gonzales Warm Springs, a rehabilitation center was built for polio victims, who were taught ways to cope with their disabilities that included: how to use  a wheelchair, how to walk with crutches and physical recovery by way of physiotherapy.

Because Warm Springs was over two hour round trip drive from San Antonio and my dad was working two jobs, six days a week, to help pay the medical bills, our family were only able to visit with Rhona one day a week, Sunday.

Mom and Dad tried to make our Sunday visits an enjoyable a reunion for Rhona, my other sister Penny and me possible, by planning family picnic outings to the nearby local Pimento State Park. Pimento Park, adjacent to the Warm Springs Rehabilitation Centre, had flora and fauna that was unique to the Texas region. The volcanic hot springs and sulphur pools raised the ambient temperatures from a semi-tropical to a tropical range, allowing the park to host a variety tropical plant and animal species typically found in Central America.

Much of the park was located  well below grade, along the banks of the San Marcos River, a tributary of the Guadalupe River. Both waters merged some two miles south of the park. According to plaques and signs, most of the park’s buildings, outdoor bar-b-queue fireplaces and even park benches, which blended well with the natural park setting, were constructed from local fieldstone, by crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC in the 1930’s. The CCC was a federal work project started by President Franklin Roosevelt to generate much needed jobs during the Great Depression. The work of the CCC included creating buildings, bridges, dams, roads, and other structures to improve the infrastructure across the United States.

BLCF: flash-flood-watch

However, Palmetto Park’s rustic charm and natural beauty gave way to a scene of life-threatening danger, when one Sunday, following heavy thunderstorms further north in the Texas Hill Country had generated massive flash floods on the San Marcos River. That Sunday, as our car came over a rise or hill just before the entrance to the park, instead of driving down a steep incline of some thirty feet or ten meters, dad suddenly stopped the car, with the front bumper of the vehicle located just a meter or a few feet from a raging torrent of water.

The San Marcos, normally a gentle stream in the park had swollen to become a fast-flowing, massive rushing river that carried large picnic tables, tree trunks and other debris across our field of view and quickly downstream.

BLCF: flash-flood

                                          San Marcos River

Dad’s car was a Blue 1955 Chevy Nomad Station Wagon, equipped with a column mounted standard transmission. Even though I was six, I was well aware, from watching dad drive the Chevy, that in a matter of seconds, he needed to take his right foot off the brake pedal and move it to the gas pedal. Then with his left foot on the clutch, dad needed to shift the car into reverse gear, all simultaneously, in order to keep us from heading into the raging river, now over 60 feet deep, in front of us. A slow shift or possible engine stall would likely mean certain death. Fortunately, dad did reverse the Nomad. Otherwise, I would not be sharing this story with you.

The quickly rising flood waters of the San Marcos River does give us some idea of the horror of the flood in Noah’s times. However, in Noah’s time, it was not just a flash flood and there was no higher ground where one could escape a watery demise. The only sanctuary or place of safety for Noah and his family was that afforded by the ark. Without the ark, all life would have been lost. As I mentioned in a previous Sunday message, the flood that God had leashed upon the earth, had reset God’s creation back to day number three, where the land was eventually parted from the waters, and the animals were created.

After the floods had receded, God promised Noah and humanity to never bring such a massive flood on a global scale, making the rainbow as a sign of His covenant or promise.

 The next Scripture I would like to share is 2 Pete 2, verses 4-10, which speaks of God’s casting those who have sinned against Him, including Satan and his followers, who will be cast into hell, enchained in the darkness until the time of their judgment. The passage tells of those who sinned in Noah’s time and suffered death from the flood, as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But we must take hope in those who did not follow an ungodly path and were saved from destruction, including Noah and Lot, as well as the majority of the heavenly hosts or angels who did not rebel against God.

If you look on the back of today’s bulletin, let us now read the account where God instructed Moses to build another kind of an ark, The Ark of the Covenant:

Exodus 25:1-16 (ESV) Contributions for the Sanctuary

BLCF: ark-of-the-coenant

25 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins,[a] acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

The Ark of the Covenant

BLCF: Ark_of_the_Covenant

10 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits[b] and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.

Footnotes: a. Exodus 25:5 Uncertain; possibly dolphin skins, or dugong skins; compare 26:14 b. Exodus 25:10 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

While Noah’s Ark provided for Noah, Noah’s family and the animals a sanctuary from a deadly worldwide flood, the Ark built by Moses served a different purpose. God had desired to have Moses construct a suitable sanctuary so that He might dwell in the midst of the people of Israel. And God instructed to place within the ark, the tablets upon which God wrote His Ten Laws or Commandments. The Ark of the Covenant would be a sanctuary for both God’s Laws and His Holy Spirit.

But what is the definition of a sanctuary? Do we not call this very place of worship at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, a sanctuary, as well? Let us see what we mean by this term from an online dictionary:

BLCF: sanctuary

Sanctuary sanc·tu·ar·y /ˈsæŋktʃuˌɛri/ Show Spelled [sangk-choo-er-ee] Show IPA noun, plural sanc·tu·ar·ies.

  1. a sacred or holy place.
  2. Judaism.
  3. the Biblical tabernacleor the Temple in Jerusalem.
  4. the holy of holies of these places of worship.
  5. an especially holy place in a temple or church.
  6. the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.
  7. a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.

Remember, just before the flood in Noah’s time, God had distanced Himself from humanity, as we read in Genesis 6, verse 3, which is printed on the bottom inside left page of your bulletin:

Genesis 6:1-3 (ESV)

BLCF: Life Restored Through Jesus

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with

After the flood, we read that God sought to draw closer to His creation see in Exodus 25, verse 8:

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

Eventually, after the Great Flood, sin returned, driving humanity from their Creator. And even God’s presence in the Ark of the Covenant could not assure a sinless humanity. So God revealed His plan for reconciliation from sin, by dwelling in the hearts of the faithful, as we see in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, verses 19-20:

 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

BLCF: 2-corinthians-4_7

 Jars of Clay – Arks of the New Covenant

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus b. 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts pits c. 2 Peter 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly d. 2 Peter 2:9 Or temptations e. 2 Peter 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh

To conclude this morning’s message, I would like to read again from 1 Corinthians, but this time from Chapter 3, verses 10-17, which the Apostle Paul describes a new blueprint for a new temple, a new sanctuary, demonstrates God’s New Covenant through Jesus Christ. This new sanctuary, like Noah’s ark, provides life and freedom from God’s judgment of death. And like Moses’ Ark of the Covenant, all believers may keep both God’s Laws and the presence of His Holy Spirit:

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 (ESV)

Unhindered in Christ

      Leave the baggage behind!

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you[a] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 3:16 The Greek for you is plural in verses 16 and 17

We read in this passage of Scripture, that the Apostle Paul explains that God has planned a way to reconcile humanity in spite of our sins. That through Christ, by our faith in his sacrifice, we may construct a Holy Temple within ourselves, suitable as a sanctuary for God’s Holy Spirit and His Law. And by way of our trust and obedience, through Jesus, we have become sanctified, living sanctuaries, within which the Holy Spirit may reside, with God’s Covenant of eternal life. Through Christ, God may no longer be absent from us as described in Genesis 6. We see now that God has returned to us, by way of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

Benediction – (Hebrews 13:20-21): Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: Hebrews-8-7-Old-and-New-Covenants