Staying on the Path to Salvation: Through Humility and Forgiveness

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Staying on the Path to Salvation through Humility and Forgiveness’ 

© January 21, 2018 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin January 21, 2018

Based on lessons shared with BLCF on February 28, 2010 and  July 20, 2014

BLCF Bulletin February 28, 2010

BLCF: Bulletin July 20, 2014

 

Announcements and Call to Worship:     

Opening Hymn#248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain; Choruses                                  

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

Responsive Reading 667: Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23); Prayer

 

 

Let Us Pray…

I would like to begin today’s lesson with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice. 

If you picked up a newspaper yesterday morning you may have read the following headline and news story:

Las Vegas Police Say Motive For Shooting Rampage Still Elusive

By Wesley Lowery and Mark Berman
Posted: 01/20/2018 9:18 AM

Authorities have not yet found a motive for the October 2017 Las Vegas massacre, but have concluded there is no evidence of any political or ideological radicalization that would explain why Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival from a 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay resort.

While the investigation remains active, the Clark County sheriff’s office on Friday released a preliminary 81-page investigatory report about the Oct. 1 shooting rampage, which left 58 people dead and more than 850 injured. Paddock, who had checked into two rooms at the Mandalay and spent days bringing in bags of assault rifles and ammunition, shot down into the crowd for more than 10 minutes in what investigators have described as a well-planned attack.

Authorities have concluded Paddock acted alone, and the sheriff said police do not anticipate bringing charges against Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who received large cash transfers from Paddock just before the shooting and was questioned in the days after.

“We have done a lot of work trying to piece together what happened,” Sheriff Joe Lombardo said during a news conference Friday. “This report won’t answer every question, or even the biggest question, as to why he did what he did.”

Paddock, 64, who had no prior criminal history, stockpiled weapons in the year before the shooting, ultimately purchasing 55 rifles and other guns in addition to scopes, cases, bump stocks and ammunition, according to the report. But it remains unclear why he targeted the concert, the central mystery that has gone unsolved since he opened fire on the Route 51 Harvest music festival in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

“No suicide note or manifesto was found,” investigators wrote. “There was no evidence of radicalization or ideology to support any theory that Paddock supported or followed any hate groups or any domestic or foreign terrorist organizations. Despite numerous interviews with Paddock’s family, acquaintances and gambling contacts, investigators could not link Paddock to any specific ideology.”

The report later concludes: “Nothing was found to indicate motive on the part of Paddock or that he acted with anyone else.”

Unlike many of the other mass killers who have attacked churches, nightclubs, workplaces, schools and other public spaces across the U.S., Paddock apparently left no explanation for his attack.                          

https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/las-vegas-police-say-motive-for-shooting-rampage-still-elusive-470271453.html

Much of today’s news media contains a litany of stories describing the sadness of when innocent lives are lost or to quote a well-known book:

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and that he would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader.

My younger sister, Rhona Mickelson, died from blood poisoning related to an abscess bedsore. The loss was very difficult for my dad. No one wants to outlive his or her child. Rhona’s last words to dad were: “I am not ready to die.” I believe that the whole family was surprised by her untimely death at age 42, as she successfully represented the disabled and elderly segments of Toronto’s talent through her Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved).

When a child dies, the surviving parents and family are not only struck by their own mortality, but are distinctly aware of the loss of someone close to them with whom there will be no more conversations, no more laughter nor jokes. For a parent they sense a loss of someone who was to carry on with the family name. Lost are the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that the parent had for the child.  Such a loss can be very difficult to accept, the causes are often hard to reconcile, and for those outside the family, such loss may be hard to understand.

Such was the case in Nickels Belt, Pennsylvania, when Charles Roberts, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, burst into an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania on Monday, October 2, 2006 and killed five schoolgirls execution-style and then shot and then killed himself. Initially, the public viewed the tragedy as another case of a disturbed individual acting out his psychosis by killing innocent victims. It was just another school shooting by a man who was described by neighbors as a soccer dad, a seemingly good husband, and hard worker who just snapped. A rambling letter written by Roberts prior to his death blamed his emotional state upon a personal loss, some years previous.

The scope and scale of the tragic loss of life at the Amish schoolhouse paled in comparison to the reaction given by the families of the five victims towards the killer Roberts and the Roberts family. Though the act of violence against the children in the Amish schoolhouse by this outsider had shaken the community to its core and in spite of Amish community’s feelings of shock, disbelief and then grief, the reaction of the Amish community to the deaths was not what others had expected. Members of the Amish community sought to support all of the families who had suffered a tremendous loss; both Amish as well as Roberts’ family. Within a day of the shootings, members of the Amish community, friends and family of the slain girls called upon the parents, widow and children of Charles Roberts to embrace the shooters family, to show forgiveness towards the killer and to support the Roberts in their time of personal loss and grief.  This reaction of forgiveness stunned both the public and the media.

Dr. Donald Kraybill co-authored: Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, and wrote the following:

One of the fathers who lost a daughter in the schoolhouse and had another one seriously injured said, “Our forgiveness was not in our words, it was in what we did.” What did they do? How did the Amish enact forgiveness?

Two days after the shooting the Amish formed the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee to disperse, with fiscal integrity, the financial gifts of goodwill that were suddenly coming from people around the world to help the suffering families. Composed of seven Amish leaders and two outside businessmen, the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee decided to give a proportion of the funds they received to the widow and children of Charles Roberts. In time, the committee received about $4.2 million from generous donors around the world.  

One of the most striking expressions of forgiveness occurred at Charles Roberts’s burial on the Saturday after the shooting. Roberts was buried in the Georgetown cemetery, about a mile from the school, beside his firstborn daughter whose premature death nine years earlier he blamed on God and gave as the reason for his murderous acts. Over half of the people in attendance were Amish. They spontaneously decided to attend. Some had just buried their own daughters the day before. After the burial they hugged the widow and the parents of Charles Roberts. It was a remarkable act of grace. The funeral director supervising the burial said, “I realized that I was witnessing a miracle!” The Amish families bestowed other gracious acts of kindness on the family of Charles Roberts. Some sent meals and flowers to his widow. At Christmastime children from a nearby Amish school went to the Roberts home to sing carols.  

Another remarkable facet of the Amish response was the absence of anger and rage. One Amish woman said, “When I saw the bodies of one of the little girls at the viewing it just made me mad, mad at the evil, not at the shooter.” In my interviews, I probed for anger toward Charles Roberts but I detected only deep sorrow, not anger. When I asked about Roberts’s eternal destiny, one Amish minister said, “I can only hope for him what I hope for myself, that God will be a merciful and loving judge.” Deep pain and sorrow seared the hearts of the Amish parents. Even months after the tragedy, the memory of the event brought tears to the eyes of many Amish people. “I couldn’t preach in church for several weeks because when I tried, I just cried and cried,” said one grandfather, a minister who lost a granddaughter in the schoolhouse. The Amish are not stoic people; they experience the emotions of pain and suffering like the rest of us.

For all the Amish, as well as for fellow Christians at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship– BLCF Church, the strength to forgive is found through humility and by God’s grace.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, well known for his Christian walk, once said: “Forgiving is one of the most difficult things for a human being to do, but I think it means looking at some slight you feel, putting yourself in the position of the other person, and wiping away any sort of resentment and antagonism you feel toward them. Then let that other person know that everything is perfectly friendly and normal between you…One of the most basic principles for making and keeping peace within and between nations. . . is that in political, military, moral, and spiritual confrontations, there should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat”

C. Ryle on the subject of humility and love said: “Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines. They are the graces about which there is no mystery, and they are within reach of all classes… [The poorest] Christian can every day find occasion for practicing love and humility. “

To understand the reaction, we must understand the Amish. There are about 200,000 Amish who live in 27 states and 350 geographical settlements. They came from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and have lived lives largely separate from mainstream American society ever since.  They have a Biblically based understanding of their way of life, and they seek to apply their unique ways in terms of their selective use of technology, the way in which they interact with the outside world. Because the Amish are pacifists, they see the school rampage as a test of faith. Part of their faith practices includes not only reciting daily The Lord’s Prayer, but actually incorporating the message of the prayer in their everyday life. As one member of the Amish community stated, “There’s strength and forgiveness and not having the kind of bitterness that we think possibly caused this terrible tragedy.”

In order to achieve forgiveness, the Amish live a life of humility. Their manner of dress is simple and unassuming. They shun modern technology, preferring to travel by horse drawn carriage than by automobile. They live off the power grid; don’t have gas lines, any phones, any radios or televisions, any computers or internet. They have no commercial insurance policies; say for life or property insurance, no credit cards, no loans. If an Amish suffers a loss, his support network is the community of fellow believers, who draw close to the person to provide care and support. The Amish learn the Way of humility from the Scriptures, 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV):

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility

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,[a] 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,[b] 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.         

Footnotes: a. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b. Philippians 2:7 Greek bondservant

But you may ask: “Does God really command or require us to be humble”? We find the answer to this question in Micah 6:8 (ESV):

He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love

kindness,[a]     

and to walk humbly with your God?             

Footnotes: a. Micah 6:8 Or steadfast love

Just as our weakness and imperfections are made strong and perfect through the power of the Holy Spirit; a humble believer will become the greatest proponent of the faith in the Lord:

Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV)

And he 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.

Steve Marshall in an article on overcoming depression entitled: How forgiveness has healing power over depression states the following:

Healing through forgiveness and growing through humility. Accepting your depression and finding that it is no more than a curtain on the stage of life, your life. What is the real spiritual connection between depression and forgiveness? Is there a causal connection? Can depression be alleviated from a “heartfelt connectingly” deep forgiveness of myself and of others made by myself? Forgiveness always helps because to forgive is to embrace the loving option. Love heals depression by allowing it’s healing “of the opening up of yourself to yourself and of the opening up of yourself to others” to take place. For essentially depression is a sign of your closing down to yourself and to life. The way to allow growth through and past your depression is to start forgiving yourself for having allowed this degree of closing down of yourself to yourself and to life to have taken place. Depression is a really deep, painful and lonely place to be, but it’s very deepness is what allows you to grow. It is true in life that you grow most from the deepest pain and the deepest feelings and that your most penetratingly painful experiences will often teach you the most. And so depression as I have just said allows you to feel feelings more deeply and this then will open the other side of depression in you and which is forgiveness. When you are feeling any feeling other than happiness or experiencing any state other than love, it is time to think about forgiveness. Forgive yourself first by just accepting yourself, for acceptance is the always the first step of forgiveness. The second step is to acknowledge that depression is a part of life and of your life and to look for the hidden jewels hiding within the darkness of depression. Forgiveness is the candle or the light in this darkness that will allow you to see the jewel and which is your soul sparkling and shining with a glimmering hope. That hope is that real hope that you will at last contact your real self as soul and that this contact will now begin to turn you around, and then after that the next step is humility. It takes true humility to forgive, and true forgiveness makes you humble. It goes on from there, and you will find that when you can touch yourself as soul, and feel a little of your true value, and accept that you have indeed a unique purpose and unique gifts and that you are a part of God’s overall plan for all of life, you will maybe realize then that your part in it all is just simply to be you.

And you may ask what Christ said we may expect if we do not forgive those who have wronged us? Let us read from Matthew 25, verses 31-46 for the answer let us look to Matthew 25:31-45 (ESV):

The Final Judgment

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.’

In other words, we will be judged according to how we have treated others. We cannot expect forgiveness and salvation if we do not forgive others. And we cannot forgive others if we have not humbled ourselves in the eyes of the Lord. Or to put it a little more clearly:

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And if we must remember Christ words, while nailed to the cross, through His anguish and pain the words He spoke were of suffering but forgiveness:

Luke 23:34 (ESV)

34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments.                                                                          

Footnotes: a. Luke 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus… what they do

So we can see that one of the requisites for our Salvation is humility and in order to be forgiven, we must first forgive. These are not guidelines but a path which we may walk. Like the Amish, a way of life. The scriptures become alive for you and me only after we chose not just to speak the scripture, but to live the scripture. To demonstrate by our actions humility before the Lord and forgiveness to others who have wronged us.

Danish philosopher, theologian, and psychologist Soren Kierkegaard once said: Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity … is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men’s lives.

Humility and forgiveness are the sacrifices we must make to be worthy in God’s eyes so as to receive Christ’s gift of salvation. His sacrifice for our forgiveness was great. What we must sacrifice is relatively small, we must be humble, be forgiven and receive the gift of salvation.

With respect to forgiveness and the Christian walk, author CS Lewis observed: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

Let us conclude this morning’s lesson with the same quote from Mahatma Gandhi that used at the beginning:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus 

Benediction (Romans 15:5-6): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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God Saved This Sinner

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘God Saved This Sinner’

© July 2, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin July 2, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           Opening Hymn #288: Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound; Choruses         Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings  Communion: Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (Mark 14)          Responsive Reading #640: Redemption in Christ (Romans 5)                         Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday worship and Praise Service, here at BLCF. And as today happens to be the first Sunday of July, it is the day that we traditionally partake in Communion, where we celebrate the gift of salvation given us by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘God Saved This Sinner’. But what does it mean when someone say that: “God has saved me”?

Let us look at some examples of circumstances where people believe that God had  interceded in a life or death challenge, and where the survivors describe their being saved as an example of Divine providence. As it happens, these testimonials came from my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

San Marcos River flash flood in Palmetto State Park, Texas

Many years ago, while a child living in Texas, I recall our family visited my three year old sister, Rhona, at Gonzales Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center. Rhona had suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and had to be taught as to how to use a wheel chair, walk with crutches, and others skills to overcome her disabilities. Warm Springs, built in 1937 during the polio epidemics and closed in 2001, was one of the few facilities equipped to address the needs of  civilian paraplegics and quadriplegics in Texas at that time.

The distance from San Antonio to Gonzales was 74 miles, over an hour’s drive,  and dad worked six days a week to help pay medical expenses, causing the family to be limited to visiting Rhona on Sundays.  We often would pick up Rhona from Warm Springs and go for a picnic at the Palmetto State Park which was situated adjacent to the Rehab Center.

The park had volcanic warm springs, having many ponds with a high in Sulphur content, there were a number of picnic areas located along the banks of the San Marcos River which ran through the park.

Texas Hill Country

The park itself was set in the Texas Hill Country, a region which, following thunderstorms and heavy rains, would  be subject to flash floods. On occasions of severe floods, most of the park was below grade and would end up some 15-20 feet underwater.

It was on one such Sunday, following heavy rainfalls, the family embarked for a picnic in the park. The entrance  to the picnic areas required driving over a fairly steep hill, which had a crown that prevented dad from seeing that the San Marcos on the other had flooded well above its banks. As we drove over the crest of the hill, dad stopped the car just above the raging river waters, where I recall seeing picnic tables being swept away, along with tree trunks and other debris. If dad had stopped a few seconds later or if  he did not successfully engage the ’55 Chevy Nomad station wagon into reverse gear, both the car and our family would have been lost to the flooding waters. Fortunately, dad backed to car away from the danger.

Years later, I remember dad saying to  me that, “God had saved us.” He then recalled two other life or death incidents where members of the family indicated that God have saved them from an untimely death.

Lighthouse Skagen, Denmark

The first involved his grandfather Knudsen, who was the lighthouse keeper near Skagen, Denmark. Located at the northernmost tip of both Denmark and continental Europe, the Skagen Grey Lighthouse jutted well into the North Sea.

Denmark Map

Dad said that his grandfather remembered  exactly how many steps he needed to climb, carrying barrels of lamp oil,  up to top of the lighthouse. On one occasion, great-grandfather Knudsen recalled using semaphore, that is signaling by flag, to a ship that carried Britain’s Queen Victoria. In those days ships and lighthouses had no radios for communication.

Semaphore – Flag Signal Chart

Great-grandfather Knudsen’s other vocation was a fisherman. If the weather was threatening, he would have man the lighthouse in deference to fishing. It was on one such occasion, that many of the fishermen of Skagen were lost to a severe storm, while great-grandfather Knudsen operated the lighthouse. My dad said that great-grandfather Knudsen remarked that, “God had saved me.”

Pikes Peak, Colorado ( in the Background)

Dad indicated that his father, my grandfather, Niels Mickelson, was saved, while taking the family out on a Sunday outing,  where he drove a car to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Pikes Peak, Colorado

The mountain’s elevation is some 14,115-feet or 4,302.31 meters, above sea level, which is well above grandfather’s mile-high home town of Denver. A mile is 5,280 feet or 1609.3 meters. In those days, the route up to the summit of Pikes Peak was unpaved and had no guardrails or barriers. It was a challenge both to the skill of the driver and  the soundness vehicle to make the trip to the summit and back safely.

Road up on Pikes Peak, Colorado

It was on one occasion, while driving up the mountain, that a careless driver sped down the mountain had the bumper of his car catch the bumper of grandfather’s car, causing both cars to spin on the narrow roadway. Grandfather’s car ended up spinning over the edge of the mountain, only to be stopped by a small pine tree. My grandfather told my dad that that was the day that, “God had saved both me and my family.”

It is not uncommon for Christians to pray for travelling mercies and protection by God for those whose journeys may bring them into harm’s way.

Today also happens to be the day following Canada Day 150, which is the country’s  Sesquicentennial or 150 Anniversary.

Canada Sesquicentennial Celebration in Ottawa

Yesterday, I watched watched a broadcast  from Ottawa of the Canadian Sesquicentennial Celebration Ceremonies, which began with the singing of the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen. This singing of The Queen led me to think about the topic for today’s lesson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’.

Both the title and the lyrics seem to plea to God to save the Queen.  While Prince Charles was present at the ceremonies, I was curious about the criteria required for the use of the anthem In Canada. This led me to the following Wikibits:

God save the Queen in Canada

Royal Anthem of Canada

The sovereign and her or his spouse are saluted with the entire anthem, while other members of the Royal Family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales) receive just the first six bars. The first six bars also form all or part of the Vice Regal Salute in some Commonwealth realms outside the UK (e.g., in Canada, governors general and lieutenant governors at official events are saluted with the first six bars of “God Save the Queen” followed by the first four and last four bars of “O Canada“), as well as the salute given to governors of British overseas territories.

 “God Save the Queen” (alternatively “God Save the King”, depending on the gender of the reigning monarch) is the national or royal anthem in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies.[1][2]The author of the tune is unknown and it may originate in plainchant, but a 1619 attribution to John Bull is sometimes made.

The phrase “God Save the King” is much older than the song, appearing, for instance, several times in the King James Bible.[17] A text based on the 1st Book of Kings Chapter 1: verses 38–40, “…And all the people rejoic’d, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever, Amen”, has been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973.[18] Scholes says that as early as 1545 “God Save the King” was a watchword of the Royal Navy, with the response being “Long to reign over us”.[19][20] He also notes that the prayer read in churches on anniversaries of the Gunpowder Plot includes words which might have formed part of the basis for the second verse “Scatter our enemies…assuage their malice and confound their devices”.

Further information: Canadian royal symbols § Verbal and musical symbols, and Anthems and nationalistic songs of Canada

By convention,[64] “God Save the Queen” is the Royal Anthem of Canada.[65][66][67][68][69] It is sometimes played or sung together with the national anthem, “O Canada“, at private and public events organised by groups such as the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion, police services, and loyal groups.[70][71][72][73][74] The governor general and provincial lieutenant governors are accorded the “Viceregal Salute”, comprising the first three lines of “God Save the Queen”, followed by the first and last lines of “O Canada”.[75]

“God Save the Queen” has been sung in Canada since the late 1700s and by the mid 20th century was, along with “O Canada”, one of the country’s two de factonational anthems, the first and last verses of the standard British version being used.[76] By-laws and practices governing the use of either song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto, “God Save the Queen” was employed, while in Montreal it was “O Canada”. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country’s national anthem and, three years later, he advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems. Within two months, on 12 April 1967, the committee presented its conclusion that “God Save the Queen”, whose music and lyrics were found to be in the public domain,[77] should be designated as the Royal Anthem of Canada and “O Canada” as the national anthem, one verse from each, in both official languages, to be adopted by parliament. The group was then charged with establishing official lyrics for each song; for “God Save the Queen”, the English words were those inherited from the United Kingdom and the French words were taken from those that had been adopted in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II.[66] When the bill pronouncing “O Canada” as the national anthem was put through parliament, the joint committee’s earlier recommendations regarding “God Save the Queen” were not included.[77]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Save_the_Queen

It seems that my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all believed that they were delivered from certain death by God’s grace. However, the Royal Anthem has roots in a sentiment that is somewhat different, being rooted in the expression “Long live the King”, which is believed to have been taken from the Scripture passage from 1 Kings 1:38-40 (ESV):

King Solomon

38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.

By contrast to the salvation described in the Royal Anthem, the accounts of four generations of the Mickelson family members being saved on three occasions, seem to be examples of God’s intervention to deliver them from death. My parents and sister, Rhona, are today with the Lord. For many in the family, the faith in God remains.

Neither the plea to God to preserve the life of a monarch, nor the apparent intervention to preserve my ancestors seem to describe the salvation described in Micah 7:7 (ESV):

 

But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.

 Neither the King, nor Queen, nor any of my ancestors appear to be waiting on God for deliverance. The type of deliverance or salvation the Scriptures describe being waited for by the author are of the spirit, not of the body, as we see in Romans 10:5-13 (ESV):

The Message of Salvation to All

 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It seems that people consider salvation as God saving their bodies from death, when we know the Bible says that our bodies will wither and die. We are born again in the Spirit and that Jesus will intercede in God’s judgement for  our sins, thanks to the grace given us by the sacrifice our Lord, Christ Jesus.

The fact that Jesus has been resurrected forever, means that Jesus is the eternal High Priest for all of humanity who have faith in the Lord for all time, Hebrews 7:22-25 (ESV):

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[a] those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 7:25 That is, completely; or at all times

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #413: God Is My Strong Salvation

Benediction – (2 John 3):            

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved).

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

Faith like a Kite

BLCF: a Bird and a Kite

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Faith like a Kite’

© March 15, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin March 15, 2015

BLCF: fly_a_kite

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #611 (Comfort from God – from Isaiah 40); Prayer

Opening Hymn #191: Spirit of God in the Clear Running Water; Choruses

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

 Scripture Verses: Leviticus 11:13-19, Mark 7:1-23, Ezekiel 10:8-22

BLCF: Red Hi-Flier Kite

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, where I would like to share with you a lesson entitled: ‘Faith like a Kite.’

March is a month frequented by clear, blustery days. Just the other day, as the wind picked up paper and other debris, I was reminded of a day in my youth , well over fifty years ago in San Antonio, Texas.

My family lived in a house in a new subdivision, that bordered on some old ranch or  farmland that seemed to have been neglected for many years, where the Prickly Pear cacti, Spanish Dagger, Live Oak and Honey Mesquite had returned, growing over most of the landscape.

Our house was located on a corner lot, located on the border of the subdivision, called “Valley Hi”. To the east of the house was Lackland Air Force Base, which located located west of the city of San Antonio. To the west of our house, was a field, beyond which was a six lane highway which looped around the city. West of the Loop 410, was the overgrown forest which was eventually to be developed into Phase 2 of the Valley Hi Housing development. With no apologies to composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II or to author James A. Michener, it seemed to me that the local Valley Hi Mall would constantly play, as background music for shoppers, the Soundtrack from stage play/movie South Pacific, including “Bali Hi.”

BLCF: boy_flying_kite

At this time of my life, my favorite activities included riding my bike, exploring the local overgrown woods and on windy days, flying a kite. Often my mom would send me to the local ice house, the Texas equivalent of Ontario’s milk stores, to pick up any grocery items that she required for dinner that day. For my efforts, I was allowed to keep a dime or quarter of the change from the purchase, which I could use as I pleased. A penny would buy a stick of Double Bubble gum or two of Bazooka gum. Six cents would get me a Popsicle from a Cravy Ice Cream truck.

BLCF: Cravy Ice Cream Truck

With a dime, I could purchase a comic book. While a quarter was the price of a copy of Mad Magazine or a kite kit. I chose the kite. Now you may wonder why not make my own? Well to construct a kite, you would need to have paper for the kite, wood (like that found on the side of orange crates), string, and glue to secure the seam of a loop around the kite’s perimeter, through which string would be threaded and attached to wooden cross that secured the frame of the kite.

BLCF: diamond_kite

A large grocery bag and string could easily be procured, but the orange crate would be more difficult to obtain. And a small bottle of Elmer’s glue would cost 15 cents. If I saved up a dime more, I could purchase a complete kite kit, which included a small plastic piece that held the two wooden cross pieces together. I would have to save an additional 15 cents to buy a spool of 100 yards of twine or string for the kite. The kites sold by the ice house came in only one color, dark red.

The simple diamond kit could be assembled in five minutes, but I learned early on that the kite needed a tail, made of cloth for stability. Otherwise, the kite would circle in ever-larger cycles, until it dove into the ground. Mom kept a bag of rags, made from worn shirts and blouses, for cleaning jobs around the house and provided the ideal material needed to construct a tail for the kite.

BLCF: Hi-Flier Kite 2

My dad worked six days a week at two jobs to pay the bills, including the medical expenses for my sister, Rhona, who was confined to a wheelchair, after suffering from a spinal injury when she was just three years old. Sunday was our family day, where we would have an evening bar-b-que dinner. Dad would serve as master of the grill or the  grill meister.

It was on a warm windy afternoon that  dad had invited  Malcolm, a co-worker over for dinner. Malcolm was a young man, about half dad’s age, but still he was over twice my age.  On that blustery day, in order to pass the time while waiting for the Mesquite charcoal to burn white, I had decided to fly my new kite which I had assembled the day before.

When Malcolm had arrived, my kite was airborne and I had played out about a third of the 100 yards of twine. The strong wind, from the east, had caused the kite to rise up only 10 yards above the ground. Usually the weight of the string prevented you from using more than a spool, before the kite would fall to the earth. But this was not the case on this windy Sunday afternoon. Soon, I had reached the end of the spool of twine, but I had another spool inside the house. Malcolm has sensed that this flight was unusual and agreed to take control of the string while I retrieved the other spool of twine and tied it to the first.

BLCF: red-diamond-kite-10

Dinner was served, and rather than reel in the kite, Malcolm, my dad and I, each took turns manning the kite string, while the others ate. It was after supper, as we neared the end of the second spool that Malcolm offered to go to the ice house and purchase more twine, commenting that we might have the makings of a world record in the kite world.  And so a third spool of twine was added, and the red kite seemed like a dot in the late afternoon sky. Eventually, Malcolm made two more trips to get more twine, making the total length of the five spools some 500 yards. The twine ran west from the back yard, over 200 yards of field, the six lanes of highway, and far over the woods that lay beyond, disappearing into the red setting sun. But, as the sun set, as often happens in that part of the country, the winds that chased the sun paused, as if to catch its breath, and suddenly the red kite, like the sun, fell down from sight, its four hour flight had ended.

BLCF: KiteFlying

I realized that the kite was lost. It was dark, tomorrow was a school day, and by the time I came home in the afternoon of the next day, it would be difficult to find the remnants of the twine across the highway, as passing cars and trucks would have severed the string.

For a time, with the help of a stiff wind, the kite had overcome the force of gravity, the combined weight of five hundred yards of twine, and provided us with a flight to remember.

BLCF: how-does-a-kite-fly

As a Christian, I believe that, in some respects, flying a kite is like faith in God. In part, our faith relies upon the invisible Holy Spirit to lift us, spiritually, towards God in Heaven. Both the wind and the Spirit are invisible and without form, but are capable of doing something supernatural, beyond nature.

The kite, by design, provides lift in the presence of the wind, overcoming gravity, and rising above the earth. The string provides, by way of tension, the resistance required to facilitate the upward lift for the kite. The tail provides stability to the kite, while keeping it in a vertical orientation.

The Holy Spirit, acts like the wind with the kite, enables our faith to be lifted closer to God. The Bible, which is the Word of God, acts like the tail of the kite; keeping our faith stable and oriented towards Him. The string is like our belief in the Gospel of Christ and the truth in the Scriptures. All of these aspects of faith are necessary and work together to enable us to transcend the limitations of the world and climb towards that which is Spiritual.

After I wrote this message, I looked online for some graphics to illustrate today’s bulletin, when I post it on our BLOG. In my search, I found that several others had authored similar posts which compared flying a kite to some aspect of Christian faith, though with mixed reactions from readers. Many of the negative responses included comments that comparing faith to flying a kite was to trivialize one’s faith in God and the Gospel of Christ. After all , there is no mention of kites in the Bible, or is there?

Well, yes and no. One of our Scripture verses, used in today’s lesson, does mention a kite; in Leviticus 11:13-19 (ESV):

Clean and Unclean Animals

BLCF: unclean_food

13 “And these you shall detest among the birds;[a] they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle,[b] the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind, 16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Footnotes: a. Leviticus 11:13 Or things that fly; compare Genesis 1:20 b. Leviticus 11:13 The identity of many of these birds is uncertain

But what kind of kite is described in Leviticus 14? We have three common definitions for a kite:

BLCF: scissortailedkite

Kite kīt noun: kite; plural noun: kites                                                                                

1. a toy consisting of a light frame with thin material stretched over it, flown in the wind at the end of a long string.                                                                              

2. Sailing informal – a spinnaker or other high, light sail.                                          

3. A medium to large long-winged bird of prey that typically has a forked tail and frequently soars on updrafts of air.

https://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=&oq=kite+definition&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4RVEB_enCA601CA602&q=kite+definition&gs_l=hp…0l5.0.0.2.79948………..0.EdKQjgwemhg

Kite, as used in this Scripture, is bird that is unclean and not fit to eat. I do not think it likely to have a flying toy or part of a watercraft on the menu! That is why many readers object to us saying faith is like an unclean bird. Is the kite really unclean, as stated in the old Mosaic Laws? We find our answer in Mark 7:1-12(ESV):

Traditions and Commandments

BLCF: dietary_rules

7 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly,[a] holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.[b] And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.[c]) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,     

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,     

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)[d]12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

Well if the Lord said that, spiritually speaking, we are not defiled by what we eat, which makes kites no longer unclean, what is it that does make a person unclean? Let us continue reading Mark 7, Mark 7:14-21(ESV):

What Defiles a Person

BLCF: defiles

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”[e] 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”[f] (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 7:3 Greek unless they wash the hands with a fist, probably indicating a kind of ceremonial washing b. Mark 7:4 Greek unless they baptize; some manuscripts unless they purify themselves c. Mark 7:4 Some manuscripts omit and dining couches e. Mark 7:11 Or an offering f. Mark 7:15 Some manuscripts add verse 16: If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear g. Mark 7:19 Greek goes out into the latrine

But even though kite, the toy, is designed to imitate the bird having the same name, some continue to argue that we demean our belief in God by comparing our faith to an object that is just a toy and behaviour that is not serious. After all, we all understand the meaning of the phrase: “Go fly a kite!”

Go fly a kite! Verb See Go chase yourself! See also: fly

Go fly a kite!   (mainly American informal) – something that you say in order to tell someone who is annoying you to go away Go fly a kite! It’s just not funny anymore.

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Go+fly+a+kite!

BLCF: kite warning

But flying a kite is not a trivial pursuit. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin used a kite, an iron key, a thin metal wire, and a Leyden jar to confirm that lightning was static electricity.

BLCF: Franklin Kite

Hargrave kites were used in the early 1900’s to carry weather instruments aloft.

BLCF: Hargrave_weather-kite

The Nares Life Kite was used to save sailors from stormy seas.

BLCF: Nares Life Kite

The Wright Brothers Flier, the world’s first heavier than air craft was developed on a design based on a large kite which carried the first human aloft.

BLCF: WrightBrothers1900Glider

And the world’s first suspension bridge across Niagara Gorge began with a kite flying contest.

The following kite article was posted on:

MEETING IN THE CLOUDS BLOG – by Angela (No Surname)

The Massive Bridge Started From A Kite String (Posted on June 27, 2014 )

 BLCF: Niagra_bridge_started_with_a_kite

Nearly 170 years ago, the mighty Niagara Falls, previously known only to the local Native Americans, was becoming the new tourism Mecca, but the only way to cross the imposing gorge was to go upstream and take a turbulent ride in a small ferry. A bridge spanning the gorge was envisioned to provide a highway over the gorge and allow commerce and people to pass more freely between Canada and the United States.

The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Company in Canada, and the International Bridge Company in USA were given the charter to build a bridge but leading engineers of Europe and North America quickly advised it could not be done.

Charles Ellet, Jr. was hired to construct the bridge. The building of a suspension bridge is commenced with stretching a line or wire across the stream. However, the turbulent roaring rapids, the 800-foot wide gap, and the 225-foot high sheer cliffs of the Whirlpool Gorge made a direct crossing impossible. Ellet and his colleagues held a dinner meeting at the Eagle Hotel in the Village of Niagara Falls, to brainstorm the problem. Ellet proposed the use of a rocket. A bombshell hurled by a cannon was also suggested. Local ironworker, Theodore G. Hulett suggested offering a cash prize to the first boy who could fly his kite to the opposite bank.

Ultimately the bridge engineer chose the idea inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s experiment with a kite. Organizing a kite-flying contest, he offered $5 to any boy who flew a kite across the gorge and secured the kite string to the other side. Youths from nearby towns flocked in to participate. 16-year-old Homan Walsh finally got his kite across the gorge and secured its line to a tree.

Using the kite line across the 800-foot chasm, Charles Ellet and his team tied a heavier line to the kite string and pulled the joined lines across. They pulled successive heavier and stronger lines across until the final bridge cable—7⁄8 inch thick—was hanging across the gorge.

He built a temporary suspension bridge as the first part of his plan. On January 31, 1848 the Buffalo Dailey Courier published this account; “We have this day joined the United States and Canada with a cord, and are making preparations to extend a foot bridge across by the first of June” 

Not long after, Ellet left the project after a bitter financial dispute with the bridge companies. A three-year hiatus followed before the companies hired John Augustus Roebling to complete the project. Roebling used Ellet’s bridge as scaffolding to build the double-decked bridge. By 1854 his bridge was nearly complete, and the lower deck was opened for pedestrian and carriage travel. On March 18 1855, a fully laden passenger train drove across the upper deck at 5 miles per hour and officially opened the completed bridge. This massive structure started with a kite string.

https://meetingintheclouds.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/this-massive-bridge-started-from-a-kite-string/

So while flying a kite may seem like a trivial pursuit, serving no practical purpose, we see that having faith in God is viewed by unbelievers in the same light.

Ezekiel 10:8-22 (ESV)

BLCF: ezekiel102

The cherubim appeared to have the form of a human hand under their wings.

And I looked, and behold, there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub, and the appearance of the wheels was like sparkling beryl. 10 And as for their appearance, the four had the same likeness, as if a wheel were within a wheel. 11 When they went, they went in any of their four directions[a] without turning as they went, but in whatever direction the front wheel[b] faced, the others followed without turning as they went. 12 And their whole body, their rims, and their spokes, their wings,[c] and the wheels were full of eyes all around—the wheels that the four of them had. 13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing “the whirling wheels.” 14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

15 And the cherubim mounted up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the Chebar canal. 16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them. And when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them. 17 When they stood still, these stood still, and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures[d] was in them.

18 Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.

20 These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the Chebar canal; and I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces, and each four wings, and underneath their wings the likeness of human hands. 22 And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the Chebar canal. Each one of them went straight forward.

Footnotes: a. Ezekiel 10:11 Hebrew to their four sides b. Ezekiel 10:11 Hebrew the head c. Ezekiel 10:12 Or their whole body, their backs, their hands, and their wings e. Ezekiel 10:17 Or spirit of life

What does this passage, which describes a vision of a creature having the face of an eagle mean?

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Ezekiel 10:8-22

BLCF: Ezekiel_10

Ezekiel sees the working of Divine providence in the government of the lower world, and the affairs of it. When God is leaving a people in displeasure, angels above, and all events below, further his departure. The Spirit of life, the Spirit of God, directs all creatures, in heaven and on earth, so as to make them serve the Divine purpose. God removes by degrees from a provoking people; and, when ready to depart, would return to them, if they were a repenting, praying people. Let this warn sinners to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call on him while he is near, and cause us all to walk humbly and watchfully with our God.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=26&c=10

BLCF: kite_before_sunset

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #355: I’m Pressing on the Upward Way

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):   

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: go-fly-a-kite_header

Staying on the Path to Salvation through Humility and Forgiveness

BLCF: Why do bad things happen to good people

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Staying on the Path to Salvation through Humility and Forgiveness’ 

© July 20, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Originally Published February 28, 2010

BLCF: Bulletin July 20, 2014

BLCF: God is a NECESSITY

 

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading 667: Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23); Prayer 

Opening Hymn#248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain; Choruses                                  

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

Scriptures: 2 Chronicles 7:14, Philippians 2:1-11,Micah 6:8, Matthew 18:3-4, Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 23:34 

 

Let Us Pray…

 BLCF: Gandhi

I would like to begin my message with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice. 

BLCF_Newspaper

If you picked up a newspaper his morning you may read the following headline and news story:

Tanks and military units penetrated deeper into Gaza on Friday as the Israel Defence Forces’ ground offensive entered its second day.

At least 20 people died and many more were injured as intensive tank fire across eastern Gaza ravaged buildings and led to mass civilian casualties in the area.

The latest figures reported by health officials in Gaza, now estimate the total number of dead to be 316, a rise more than 60 since the offensive first began.

IDF reports say that “40 Hamas terrorists” have been killed during the operation so far, with many of the underground tunnels used by the group destroyed.

Three Israeli soldiers were injured, including one seriously, in a gun battle in northern Gaza; while one more was injured after being caught by sniper fire on Saturday morning.

With the number of people to die as a result of conflict in Gaza now topping 300, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon is set to travel to the region today in a bid to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

After 10 days of fighting, the Israeli military launched a ground operation in Gaza. As the violence escalates, here is what you need to know about the latest Gaza conflict:

What triggered this round of violence?

In June, the bodies of three Israeli teenagers — Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16 – were found in the West Bank. Israel blamed Hamas for the murders, although the militant group denied any involvement.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/israel-gaza-conflict-what-you-need-to-know-1.1919373#ixzz37zaL8swn

Much of today’s news media contains a litany of stories describing the sadness of when innocent lives are lost or to quote a well-known book:

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

BLCF: Kushner

 

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and that he would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. Since its original publication in 1981,When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader.

When my younger sister, Rhona, died from blood poisoning related to an abscess bedsore, it was very difficult for my dad. No one wants to outlive his or her child. Rhona’s last words to dad were: “I am not ready to die.” I believe that the whole family was surprised by her untimely death at age 42, as she successfully represented the disabled and elderly segments of Toronto through her Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved).

When a child dies, the surviving parents and family are not only struck by their own mortality, but are distinctly aware of the loss of someone who is close with whom there will be no more conversations, no more laughter or jokes. For a parent they sense a loss of someone who was to carry on with the family name. Lost are the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that the parent has for the child who is gone. Such a loss can be very difficult to accept, the causes hard to reconcile, and for those outside the family, such loss hard to understand.

Such was the case in Nickels Belt, Pennsylvania, when Charles Roberts, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, burst into an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania on Monday, October 2, 2006 and killed five schoolgirls execution-style and then shot and then killed himself. Initially, the public viewed the tragedy as another case of a disturbed individual acting out his psychosis by killing innocent victims. It was just another school shooting by a man who was described by neighbors as a soccer dad, a seemingly good husband, and hard worker who just snapped. A rambling letter written by Roberts prior to his death blamed his emotional state upon a personal loss, some years previous.

The scope and scale of the tragic loss of life at the Amish schoolhouse paled in comparison to the reaction given by the families of the five victims towards the killer Roberts and the Roberts family.  Even though the act of violence against an Amish schoolhouse by an outsider had shaken the community to its core and in spite of Amish community’s feelings of shock, disbelief and then grief; there were of Amish people coming down to support those who had suffered this tremendous loss, both Amish as well as Roberts’ family. Within a day of the shootings, members of the Amish community, friends and family of the slain girls called upon the parents, widow and children of Charles Roberts to embrace the shooters family, to show forgiveness towards the killer and to support the Roberts in their time of personal loss and grief.  This reaction of forgiveness stunned the public and the media.

BLCF: power-of-forgiveness

Dr. Donald Kraybill, co-authored: Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, and wrote the following:

One of the fathers who lost a daughter in the schoolhouse and had another one seriously injured said, “Our forgiveness was not in our words, it was in what we did.” What did they do? How did the Amish enact forgiveness?

Two days after the shooting the Amish formed the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee to disperse, with fiscal integrity, the financial gifts of goodwill that were suddenly coming from people around the world to help the suffering families. Composed of seven Amish leaders and two outside businessmen, the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee decided to give a proportion of the funds they received to the widow and children of Charles Roberts. In time, the committee received about $4.2 million from generous donors around the world.  

One of the most striking expressions of forgiveness occurred at Charles Roberts’s burial on the Saturday after the shooting. Roberts was buried in the Georgetown cemetery, about a mile from the school, beside his firstborn daughter whose premature death nine years earlier he blamed on God and gave as the reason for his murderous acts. Over half of the people in attendance were Amish. They spontaneously decided to attend. Some had just buried their own daughters the day before. After the burial they hugged the widow and the parents of Charles Roberts. It was a remarkable act of grace. The funeral director supervising the burial said, “I realized that I was witnessing a miracle!” The Amish families bestowed other gracious acts of kindness on the family of Charles Roberts. Some sent meals and flowers to his widow. At Christmastime children from a nearby Amish school went to the Roberts home to sing carols.  

Another remarkable facet of the Amish response was the absence of anger and rage. One Amish woman said, “When I saw the bodies of one of the little girls at the viewing it just made me mad, mad at the evil, not at the shooter.” In my interviews, I probed for anger toward Charles Roberts but I detected only deep sorrow, not anger. When I asked about Roberts’s eternal destiny, one Amish minister said, “I can only hope for him what I hope for myself, that God will be a merciful and loving judge.” Deep pain and sorrow seared the hearts of the Amish parents. Even months after the tragedy, the memory of the event brought tears to the eyes of many Amish people. “I couldn’t preach in church for several weeks because when I tried, I just cried and cried,” said one grandfather, a minister who lost a granddaughter in the schoolhouse. The Amish are not stoic people; they experience the emotions of pain and suffering like the rest of us.

But for all the Amish, as well as for fellow Christians at Bloor Lansdowne alike,  the strength to forgive is found is found through humility and the God’s grace.

BLCF: theologys-toughest-question

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, well known for his Christian walk, once said: “Forgiving is one of the most difficult things for a human being to do, but I think it means looking at some slight you feel, putting yourself in the position of the other person, and wiping away any sort of resentment and antagonism you feel toward them. Then let that other person know that everything is perfectly friendly and normal between you…One of the most basic principles for making and keeping peace within and between nations. . . is that in political, military, moral, and spiritual confrontations, there should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat”

BLCF: Diane-McKelva-Forgiveness

J. C. Ryle on the subject said:“Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines. They are the graces about which there is no mystery, and they are within reach of all classes… [The poorest] Christian can every day find occasion for practicing love and humility. “

BLCF: amish_grace

To understand the reaction, we must understand the Amish. There are about 200,000 Amish who live in 27 states and 350 geographical settlements. They came from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and have lived lives largely separate from mainstream American society ever since.  They have a Biblically based understanding of their way of life, and they seek to apply their unique ways in terms of their selective use of technology, the way in which they interact with the outside world. Because the Amish are pacifists, they see the school rampage as a test of faith. Part of their faith practices includes not only reciting daily The Lord’s Prayer, but actually incorporating the message of the prayer in their everyday life. As one member of the Amish community stated, “There’s strength and forgiveness and not having the kind of bitterness that we think possibly caused this terrible tragedy.”

BLCF: Amish

But in order to achieve forgiveness, the Amish live a life of humility. Their manner of dress is simple and unassuming. They shun modern technology, preferring to travel by horse drawn carriage than by automobile. They live off the power grid; don’t have gas lies, any phones, any radios or televisions, no computers. They have no commercial insurance policies; say for life or property insurance, no credit cards, no loans. If an Amish suffers a loss, his support network is the community of fellow believers, who draw close to the person to provide care and support. The Amish learn the Way of humility from the Scriptures:

BLCF: forgiveness

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

BLCF: Christ-our-healer-

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility

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,[a] 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,[b] 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.

Footnotes: a. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b. Philippians 2:7 Greek bondservant

BLCF: forgiveness_liberates

 

But you may ask. Does God really command or require us to be humble?

Micah 6:8 (ESV)

He has told you, O man, what is good;     

and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]     

and to walk humbly with your God?

Footnotes: a. Micah 6:8 Or steadfast love

Just as our weakness and imperfections are made strong and perfect through the power of the Holy Spirit; a humble believer will become the greatest…

Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV)

And he 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.

BLCF: why_do

Steve Marshall in an article on overcoming depression entitled: How forgiveness has healing power over depression states the following:

Healing through forgiveness and growing through humility. Accepting your depression and finding that it is no more than a curtain on the stage of life, your life. What is the real spiritual connection between depression and forgiveness? Is there a causal connection? Can depression be alleviated from a “heartfelt connectingly” deep forgiveness of myself and of others made by myself? Forgiveness always helps because to forgive is to embrace the loving option. Love heals depression by allowing it’s healing “of the opening up of yourself to yourself and of the opening up of yourself to others” to take place. For essentially depression is a sign of your closing down to yourself and to life. The way to allow growth through and past your depression is to start forgiving yourself for having allowed this degree of closing down of yourself to yourself and to life to have taken place. Depression is a really deep, painful and lonely place to be, but it’s very deepness is what allows you to grow. It is true in life that you grow most from the deepest pain and the deepest feelings and that your most penetratingly painful experiences will often teach you the most. And so depression as I have just said allows you to feel feelings more deeply and this then will open the other side of depression in you and which is forgiveness. When you are feeling any feeling other than happiness or experiencing any state other than love, it is time to think about forgiveness. Forgive yourself first by just accepting yourself, for acceptance is the always the first step of forgiveness. The second step is to acknowledge that depression is a part of life and of your life and to look for the hidden jewels hiding within the darkness of depression. Forgiveness is the candle or the light in this darkness that will allow you to see the jewel and which is your soul sparkling and shining with a glimmering hope. That hope is that real hope that you will at last contact your real self as soul and that this contact will now begin to turn you around, and then after that the next step is humility. It takes true humility to forgive, and true forgiveness makes you humble. It goes on from there, and you will find that when you can touch yourself as soul, and feel a little of your true value, and accept that you have indeed a unique purpose and unique gifts and that you are a part of God’s overall plan for all of life, you will maybe realize then that your part in it all is just simply to be you.

And you may ask what Christ said we may expect if we do not forgive those who have wronged us? Let us read from Matthew 25, verses 31-46 for the answer:

BLCF: sheep-goats

Matthew 25:31-45 (ESV) The Final Judgment

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.’

BLCF: do_to_others

In other words, we will be judged according to how we have treated others. We cannot expect forgiveness and salvation if we do not forgive others. And we cannot forgive others if we have not humbled ourselves in the eyes of the Lord. Or to put it a little more clearly:

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And if we must remember Christ words, while nailed to the cross, through His anguish and pain the words He spoke were of suffering but forgiveness:

BLCF: Father-forgive-them

Luke 23:34 (ESV)

34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Footnotes: a. Luke 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus… what they do

So we can see that one of the requisites for our Salvation is humility and in order to be forgiven, we must first forgive. These are not guidelines but a path which we may walk. Like the Amish, a way of life. The scriptures become alive for you and me only after we chose not just to speak the scripture, but to live the scripture. To demonstrate by our actions humility before the Lord and forgiveness to others who have wronged us.

Danish philosopher, theologian, and psychologist Soren Kierkegaard once said: Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity … is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men’s lives.

Humility and forgiveness are the sacrifices we must make to be worthy in God’s eyes of receiving Christ’s gift of salvation. His sacrifice for our forgiveness was great; by comparison what we must sacrifice is small. Be humble, be forgiven and receive the gift of salvation.

I conclude this morning’s message the same quote from Mahatma Gandhi that I used at the beginning:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice.

Let us pray…

BLCF:Forgiveness-

Closing Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus 

Benediction (Romans 15:5-6):                                                                                     

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,  that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

BLCF: grace_empowers_med