Sunday, September 12, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


September 12, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Sleepers, Wake! A Voice Astounds Us melody by Nicolai; harmony by Bach; arr. by Gilbert Martin

Opening Video: Psalm 19

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “God Of Wonders”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Mark 8:27-38 New International Version

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Solo: Agnus Dei – from Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – by Charles Gounod
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us and give us peace.

Message:

It’s Worth The Risk

A man named Fred was named in a large inheritance – He would receive a large parcel of land – and had to decide if he wanted some land in Chile or Brazil. He chose Brazil.

Unfortunately – if he had chosen Chile – he would have received his inheritance in land on which they had recently discovered gold and silver.

Then he had to decide if he wanted to plant coffee or nut trees – he chose the nut trees – but the bottom fell out of the nut market – just as coffee futures were going up – and he lost the farm because he couldn’t pay his property tax. He was left without a penny.

Fred pawned his gold watch and had enough money to fly to either Montreal or Toronto – he chose Toronto. When the plane for Montreal arrived – it was a brand spanking new airbus. And after several hours of delay – the plane that arrived to take him to Toronto was an old propeller driven clunker that looked like it was held together with wire and duct tape.

Over the mountains – one of the engines fell off – and Fred – finally learning from his earlier bad choices – took both of the parachutes offered to him. He jumped. He immediately pulled one of the rip cords – but nothing happened – he pulled the other cord – and it broke.

In desperation – the poor man cried out – St. Francis – save me! A great hand from heaven reached down – seized him by the wrist – and left him dangling in mid-air. Then a gentle but inquisitive voice asked – wait a second – did you mean St. Francis – Xavier or St. Francis of Assisi?

The poor guy couldn’t win for losing – but that’s life sometimes. Life is risky – because it’s full of choices where we don’t always know the outcome.

It’s the same with choosing to become a Christian. There’s always risk – because we don’t always know how other people are going to respond to that choice. Some people may appreciate the choice because of the changes it brings into our lives. But others may very well reject us for choosing to follow Jesus – because they don’t like those very same changes.

Following Jesus is risky – but is the risk worth it – is it worth the risk of rejection to go where Jesus leads you to go – to do what Jesus leads you to do – and to be what Jesus leads you to be? Is it worth the risk of rejection – from a large percentage of the world – to let Jesus change you from the inside out?

Well – in our reading today – Jesus asks His disciples to take that risk. In Mark 8:27-29 we hear that – Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

Before we consider the risks in following Jesus – we first have to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah – Anointed One – the Prophet – the Priest – the Ruler of All!

You see – people in Jesus’ day thought He was just another prophet – perhaps Elijah or John the Baptist come back to life. I don’t know about you – but if people said that about me – I would be very flattered. If people said – Wow! He preaches like Elijah Himself – my head would swell so much that I’d have trouble getting through the door.

But not Jesus – He’s greater than any political power – and He’s greater than any prophet or priest that ever lived.

When Peter said – You are – THE – Christ – he was saying You are THE Prophet – the one who speaks the words of God. In fact – Jesus is the Word of God Himself – according to John 1.

As we consider the risk of following Jesus – we must acknowledge the same thing – we must acknowledge that Jesus is – the Christ – and not just some popularized version we hear about from people today.

In a posting on his – Restless and Reformed blog – Kevin DeYoung describes what people say about Jesus today.

“There’s the conservative Jesus – who’s against tax increases and activist judges – for family values and looking after ourselves.

“There’s liberal Jesus – who is against big Wall Street and Wal-Mart – for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.

“There’s Therapist Jesus – who helps us cope with life’s problems – heals our past – tells us how valuable we are – and not to be so hard on ourselves.

“There’s Starbucks Jesus – who drinks fair trade coffee – loves spiritual conversations – drives a hybrid – and goes to film festivals.

“There’s Open-minded Jesus – who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).

“There’s Touchdown Jesus – who helps athletes run faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.

“There’s Martyr Jesus – a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him.

“There’s Gentle Jesus – who was meek and mild – with high cheek bones – flowing hair – and walks around barefoot – wearing a sash.

“There’s Hippie Jesus – who teaches everyone to give peace a chance – imagines a world without religion – and helps us remember that – all you need is love.

“There’s Yuppie Jesus – who encourages us to reach our full potential – reach for the stars – and buy a boat.

“There’s Spirituality Jesus – who hates religion – churches – pastors – priests – and doctrine – and would rather have people out in nature – finding – the god within – while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.

“There’s Platitude Jesus – good for Christmas specials – greeting cards – and bad sermons – inspiring people to believe in themselves.

“There’s Revolutionary Jesus – who teaches us to rebel against the status quo – stick it to the man – and blame things on – the system.

“There’s Guru Jesus – a wise – inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.

“There’s Good Example Jesus – who shows you how to help people – change the planet – and become a better you.

And then – DeYoung says – there’s Jesus Christ – the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonderworker.

He was the one they had been waiting for – the Son of David and Abraham’s chosen seed – the one to deliver us from captivity – the goal of the Mosaic law – Yahweh in the flesh – the one to heal the sick – give sight to the blind – freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor – the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world…

This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is the Father’s Son – more loving – more holy – and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.

As we consider the risk of following Jesus – we must give up our own notions of what we want Jesus to be and acknowledge Him for who He truly is. We must acknowledge that He is indeed – THE – Christ.

But that’s not all – we also have to consider that that Jesus – is headed for the cross. Jesus isn’t pursuing any type of glory – He’s following a path that will lead to suffering and death. Jesus is not pursuing a crown – He’s pursuing a cross.

In Mark 8:30 – Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. Why? Because if people knew who Jesus was – they’d raise Him up as their King – they’d elevate Him to power – but that’s not why He came.

Our reading says that Jesus – began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

You see – Peter – like the rest of the disciples, wanted to follow Jesus to glory. They wanted to share in the prestige and power of His reign – but they didn’t care too much for the pain necessary to get there.

Peter’s attitude was not only selfish – Jesus thought that it was satanic. Peter wanted to pursue more power and glory for himself – but that’s not where Jesus was headed. Jesus was headed for a cross – and if we want to follow Jesus – we need to be prepared to head in that direction too.

In the 1950’s – Parker Brothers came out with a game for church families called – Going to Jerusalem. Unlike Monopoly – the playing pieces weren’t – a top hat or a Scottie dog. In – Going to Jerusalem – a player got to be a real disciple. Each was represented by a little plastic man with a robe – a beard – sandals – and a staff.

In order to move around the board – players looked up answers to questions in a little black New Testament that was provided with the game. Everyone started in Bethlehem – and then made stops at the Mount of Olives – Bethsaida – Capernaum – the stormy sea – Nazareth – and Bethany. If a player rolled the dice well – he or she won the game by making it to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem – but no one ever got to the Crucifixion or Resurrection. There were no demons or angry Pharisees.

Players only made their way through the nice stories. It was a safe adventure – perfectly suited for a Christian family on a Sunday afternoon walk with Jesus.

But that’s not what following Jesus is all about. Jesus is headed for a cross – so traveling with Him isn’t safe! Traveling with Jesus isn’t meant for plastic disciples who look up verses in a little black Bible. Traveling with Jesus is meant only for those who are willing to take a real risk with their own lives.

Then this passage tells us that in order to follow where Jesus travels – it will definitely cost us. We must realize that we will have to pay a price to go with Jesus. In verse 34 Jesus – called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

What does denying oneself mean – there was a man who loved chocolates – he’d eat a big – pot-o-gold box each week. Every year during the weeks of Lent leading up to Easter – he would open up a box of chocolates – look inside – and then tell the Lord that he would not eat any candy as a token of his love for Jesus. He called it – denying himself – and – taking up his cross.

Denying oneself – and taking up one’s cross – does – NOT – mean giving up chocolates. It means giving up your life. When someone took up a cross in Jesus’ day – it only meant one thing – they were going to die!

A Pastor had a man knock on his office door and ask him for some bullet points on Christianity. You see – His wife had just become a Christian – and he wanted help in making some sense of the dinner conversations he was having with her. He made it clear he was a very busy – very successful man – and didn’t really have time to study what it meant to be Christian – he just wanted the bullet points.

The Pastor told him – I can see you are a very busy – very successful person – so I don’t think this is a good idea. Why? – the man asked in frustration.

Because – the Pastor replied – If I only gave you the bullet points – and you really came to understand them – they have a way of working into a person’s life so significantly that your life could really get messed up. You would have to rethink the meaning of success – of time – of family – of everything really. I don’t think you really want to do that – do you?

Well – as it turned out – the Pastor’s response peaked the man’s interest – and after many more conversations – he joined his wife as a dedicated follower – and it truly – did – change his life.

How about you and me? Do we just want the bullet points every Sunday morning – a quick executive summary? Or do we really want Jesus to change us from the inside out? Do we really want Jesus to mess with our lives and rearrange our priorities so much so that we’d give up everything for Him?

That’s what Jesus is talking about here. If we want to follow Him – we must be willing to lose our lives – as we recognize it. Jesus is the Christ headed for the cross – so it will cost us to follow Him – but the cost is worth it.

Following Jesus is well worth the risk of losing your life. In fact – it may be riskier to try and save what you think of as your life. Look at what Jesus says in verse 35 – For whoever wants to save his life a will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.

In other words – He’s saying – If you want to really live – then give up your life for my sake – risk it all in the cause of the Gospel.”

Tyrtaeus – a Greek – wrote something very similar to what Jesus said here. He said – The one who risks their life in battle has the best chance in saving it – the one who flees to save it is most likely to lose it.

Statistics from World War two actually back that up. A psychologist made a study of the top pilots who fought over the Pacific Ocean. There was one common trait he found among all of them – they were risk-takers.

Throughout their lives – they kept testing the limits of their abilities – and yet they were highly resistant to accidents. In fact – during the war – they suffered fewer casualties than pilots who were inclined to play it safe.

The psychologist concluded – Living itself is a risky business. If we spent half as much time learning how to take risks as we spend avoiding them – we wouldn’t have nearly so much to fear in life.

That’s interesting – people who play it safe are actually at greatest risk – but those who take great risks are actually the most secure. Or as Jesus put it – Whoever wants to save his life will lose it – but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.

Jesus goes on to say – What good is it – to gain the whole world – yet forfeit your soul? – what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

The word Jesus uses for soul here – is the same word He uses for Life – Jesus is not talking about losing – souls here – He’s talking about losing our lives by wasting them in the wrong pursuits.

In 1867 – Swedish chemist – Alfred Nobel – invented dynamite. He hoped that his invention would make war too horrible to ever happen again. However – he soon realized the truth. He made a huge fortune from its sales – yet was horrified with the suffering and misery it caused. But what was he to do?

Towards the end of the 19th – century he awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local paper – Alfred Nobel – the inventor of dynamite – who died yesterday – devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before. He died a very rich man.

Actually – it was Alfred’s older brother who had died. The newspaper confused the two. But the account had a profound effect on Alfred. He decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing a means to kill people efficiently.

As a result – he initiated the Nobel Prize – an award for scientists and writers who foster peace. Nobel said – Everyone ought to have the chance to correct their epitaph in midstream and write a new one.

How about you? Are you going to wake up one day to regret what you did with your life? Or can you honestly say – I’m living the life I really want to live. Sure – sometimes it’s a tough life – but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

If you can’t honestly say that – then I encourage you to take the risk and live your life following Jesus. Acknowledge that He is the Christ – and that He is headed for the cross. Appreciate the cost of following Him and go for it. For then – and only then – will you truly live!

Amen.

Hymn: “The Wondrous Cross”

Video: Dream Again

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “At the Name of Jesus”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Sacred Heart of Jesus – Joseph McGrath

Sunday, September 6, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


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September 6, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Simple Gifts – Shaker melody, arr. Michael Hassell

Opening Video: a prayer for Labour Day

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “As Those Of Old Their Firstfruits Brough”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

James 2:1-10, 14-17 New International Version

2:1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Solo: Then shall the eyes of the blind; He shall feed His flock text
from Isaiah 35 and 40; music from “Messiah”, by Handell

Message:

Behind The Cover

Dodie Gadient – a schoolteacher for thirteen years – decided to travel across the country during her summer vacation and see some of the sights she had taught about. Traveling alone in a truck with camper in tow – she headed out.

One afternoon – while rounding a curve on the highway near a major city – the fan belt snapped on her truck. She was tired – exasperated – scared – and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused – no one stopped to ask if she needed some help. Leaning up against the trailer – she prayed – Please God – send me an angel – preferably one who knows how to fix a fan belt. .

Within a few minutes – an enormous man sporting long – black hair – a beard and tattooed arms – riding on a tricked-out Harley pulled over. With an incredible air of confidence – he jumped off his bike – and without even glancing at Dodie – went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes – he flagged down a large truck – attached a tow chain – and whisked the whole pick-up and camper off the highway onto a side street – where he calmly continued to work on the engine. .

The schoolteacher was a little intimidated and too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she saw the distinctive patch on the back of his leather jacket – Hell’s Angels. .

As he finished with the engine – and it came roaring back to life – she finally got up the courage to say – Thanks so much – and was able to carry on a brief conversation. .

Noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal – he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled – Don’t judge a book by its cover. You may not know who you’re talking to. With that – he smiled – straddled his Harley – and with a subtle nod – he was gone as fast as he had appeared. .

Looks can be deceiving. Dodie prayed for an – Angel – to rescue her – and that’s what she got – a member of the notorious biker gang – the Hell’s Angels. As he said – You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. .

You see me here every week – In the summer – nice pants – nice shirt. In the cooler months – I’m in my robes – black with a stole and button up shirt with a clerical collar – dress shoes. But I typically dress like that only for services – most of the time I’m much more casual – and I mean – MUCH – more casual. .

I’ve always been that way. Even years ago – when I worked in the computer industry – daily work attire was suit and tie – but after work – faded jeans – sandals – and a t-shirt..

And the difference in the way I would be treated – depending on how I was dressed – would really make you stop and think. If I stopped at a store – or maybe a nice restaurant – on my way home from work – the staff would be falling over each other trying to serve me..

You could tell what they were thinking – that’s a really nice suit – this guy’s got money – he has to be a big spender. But if I went to the same places on the weekend – or after I’d gone home to change – salespeople and servers would ignore me. They’d be thinking – he can’t afford to buy anything here..

The thing is – they’d all be wrong. I was – in no way – a – BIG – spender. But I could usually afford to buy in the places I’d shop. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover..

Don’t judge too quickly – when you do – you might assume the worst – when the best is intended. This is one of the issues that James addresses in his book..

James 2:1 My brothers and sisters – believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism..

Don’t judge a person by what you see on the surface. In other words – don’t judge too quickly. Or don’t pre-judge – before you have a chance to really get to know someone below the surface..

A study by researchers at the University of Toronto and at James Madison University in Virginia – demonstrates our tendency to do just that – to judge people simply by what we see on the surface..

Jonah Lehrer – one of the researchers – says we all have what he calls – bias blind spots – no matter how smart we think we are. In fact – his research found that – a larger bias blind spot was identified in people with greater intelligence. That’s because there’s a mismatch between how we evaluate others and how we evaluate ourselves..

He says – When considering the irrational choices of a stranger – we are forced to rely on what we see them doing – we see their actions from the outside – which allows us to see them as in the wrong..

However – when assessing our own bad choices – we tend to engage in elaborate introspection. We study our motivations and search for relevant reasons..

For example – if we drive erratically through traffic – it’s because we have an important meeting – or we don’t do it that often – and we’re really careful – and so forth. But if someone else cuts us off in traffic – there’s one simple – observable explanation – he’s a jerk..

Lehrer concludes – our bias blind spots are largely unconscious – which means we don’t see them in ourselves. And being smarter – doesn’t make it any easier to see our bias faults. (quotes paraphrased).

I find that very interesting – because in our sophisticated society – people like to think that they have very little – or no – prejudice at all – when in fact – they may tend to prejudge people even more..

That’s the way of the world – but God calls Christians to – keep unstained from the world. (James 1:27). Unlike the world – Christians are called to demonstrate a different attitude. So don’t Judge the book by the cover – and don’t be a foolish critic..

Don’t be hasty in your evaluation of others. You see – when you judge too quickly – your judgment is usually wrong..

James 2:2-4 says – Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?.

That’s judging the poor man as being less worthy of your attention than the rich man – and it’s because you’ve taken each person at face value – and have evaluated them based solely on their outward appearance..

The word used for – poor man – in the original Greek could be translated as – someone who crouches and cowers like a beggar. It sure doesn’t describe someone who would look like knowing them would be an asset – at least not compared to the rich man dressed in the ancient equivalent of an expensive Armani suit with a gold Rolex watch..

That’s judgment based on a person’s outward appearance – and that’s how people usually – see – things. The Bible says – The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance – but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7). You see – God has a totally different assessment – because God looks below the surface to the heart of an individual..

And God sees that the poor are often rich in what really counts..

James 2:5-6 – Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor..

The real assets to the world – are the poor – who are rich in faith!.

This was demonstrated in May of 2017 – do you remember the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester – England. None of the tickets for that event were cheap – so you could argue that most of the people attending were reasonably well off. But – while many of those fairly wealthy concert goers were fleeing the arena – two homeless men stayed to help those who were hurt.

For Chris Parker – a 33-year-old homeless man – the arena’s entrance seemed like a good place to beg for money. And Stephen Jones – another homeless man – had found a spot nearby to sleep.

Chris was panhandling when the bomb exploded – according to local news reports the force of the blast knocked him to the floor – but he was unfazed. Rather than running for safety – he went to the aid of victims – comforting a girl who had lost her legs – wrapping her in a T-shirt – and cradling a dying woman in his arms.

Stephen – pulled shrapnel out of children’s arms and faces. Just because I am homeless doesn’t mean I haven’t got a heart – he told a local news agency – I’d like to think someone would come and help me if I needed the help – he said – adding that he had been overcome by an – instinct – to pitch in.

The poor can be very sensitive to the needs of those around them. That’s why their – instinct – their heart – is to – pitch in – to help in whatever ways they can. That’s faith at work – and God sees that the poor are often rich in that kind of faith.

On the other hand – God also knows that the rich are often poor in what really counts. The wealthy are often lacking in things like faith and compassion.

James 2:6-7 Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

The church – over the years – has experienced more trouble from rich people than from poor people. It’s the rich who have tried to dominate and control the church. It’s the rich who have caused most of the church’s legal problems – and the rich who wind up being on the news demonstrating examples of how – not – to be a Christian.

They tend to be the ones who give Christianity a bad name – if not by their words – then certainly by their actions. Just think of those wealthy TV preachers – who live in mansions while taking money from the vulnerable of society.

The rich have caused far more trouble for the church than the poor ever have over the years. And yet – churches still work on appealing to the wealthy – and discouraging the poor.

A 2012 newspaper article asked the following question – Does money change you? The article said that most people are convinced that gaining a lot of money – wouldn’t change who they are as people. But studies show exactly the opposite.

A mounting body of research is showing that wealth can actually change how we think and behave – and not for the better. Rich people have a harder time connecting with others – showing less empathy – and are more likely to dehumanize those who are different from them.

Percentage wise – they are less charitable and generous – less likely to help someone in trouble – and they are more likely to defend an unfair status quo. Money – in other words – changes who you are.

Researchers from the University of California – based on a number of studies – have concluded that wealthier people tend to be less compassionate towards others in a bad situation than people from lower-class backgrounds.

Now – I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to say that all rich people are bad – or that all poor people are good. No – it’s just a reminder to look beyond the surface. Don’t judge people too quickly. Don’t take people at face value – and through that – become an uninformed judge.

Finally – by judging others based on initial appearances – you run the risk of becoming the one in the wrong.

James 2:8-10 says – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

Jesus summarized God’s law in two commands – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind – and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).

According to James – The law of love is the – royal law – the ultimate of all laws – and judging people too quickly breaks that law! When you don’t take the time to really know someone before you form an opinion of them – you violate the law of love.

In fact – according to James – Judging people based on appearances – breaks the entire law! James considers the law is a boundary line – like a border – and it doesn’t matter where you cross that line. If you cross it anywhere – at the point called murder – or adultery – or favouritism – it’s all the same – you’ve crossed the border. That’s how serious James thinks it is.

Judging people too quickly breaks the law of love. In fact – it breaks the entire law – so instead – learn to show mercy – not judgment. Demonstrate compassion – not a critical spirit.

Express the kind of love which goes below the surface and takes the time to really know someone. If you do – you will no longer see the need to judge.

That’s what faith in Christ is all about. When you truly trust Him – you will love others as He loved you – unconditionally and without judgment.

It’s countercultural – but that kind of love changed the world. In the middle of the 2nd Century – those who could afford to fled the Black Plague in ancient Rome by abandoning the city – leaving the poor – sick and dying behind. The Christians – on the other hand – remained behind at great risk to themselves.

When everybody else ran – they stayed to care for the sick and dying. They showed mercy – and their mercy triumphed over the judgement of others.

After decades of persecution – Christianity began to be accepted in the Roman Empire – so much so – that less than 150 years later the Roman emperor himself became a Christian and sought to Christianize the entire empire.

I’m going to finish by telling you something you might not know about me. I own and ride a motorcycle. It’s not a Harley – but it’s the same sort of cruiser – with the same sort of loud thumping engine noise – and it’s often mistaken for one.

When I ride it – I wear an older pair of jeans – some heavier boots – a motorcycle jacket – black leather gloves – and a helmet with a dark visor. Like a lot of motorcycle riders – I wear those things for protection. But it kind of makes us all look the same. Other than the fact that my jacket doesn’t have a big club patch on the back – I might look just like a gang member.

And if it’s a hot day – after wearing a heavy outfit like that for a couple of hours – well – let’s just say I don’t always get off the bike smelling like a bouquet of roses.

So – what I want to ask you is this – if I pulled up in front of the church – loudly revving the engine – dressed like that on my bike one Sunday morning – just parked right out front by the steps – got off – and walked in through the sanctuary doors before taking my helmet off.

How do you think I’d be judged? How would you judge me? Would I be led to a good seat – would I be asked to sit at the back or maybe even asked what I was doing there. And how would you feel after I took off my helmet and you realized it was me.

So don’t be quick to judge – instead – be quick to love – all people. Be quick to show mercy – as God has shown us mercy. Then watch that mercy triumph over judgement in our world.

Amen.

Hymn: “In Christ There Is No East r West”

Video: Shoes

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Sent Forth By God’s Blessing”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Fugue in G major – Bach Played by Lily Zhou

Sunday, August 29, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 25, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Come, Holy Spirit, Lord God – Pachelbel

Opening Video: An Opening Prayer

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “Your Love Is Amazing”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

James 1:17-27

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Solo: O Lord! Correct me – text from Jeremiah 10:24 music by Handel

Video: James

Message:

Religion That’s Not Worthless

James 1:17-27

I heard about a man who came into worship late one Sunday morning. Not knowing where they were in the order of service – he asked someone in the back of the sanctuary – Is the sermon done yet?

The experienced old Christian turned in the pew – and answered with all the wisdom of their years – The sermon has been preached – but it has yet to be done.

Wow! You talk about a statement that is truthful and insightful! The sermon isn’t done when it is preached – but when it is practiced. Amen!

Many years ago – theologian A. W. Tozer lamented – There is an evil which I have seen under the sun…It is the glaring disparity between theology and practice among professing Christians.

So wide is the gulf that separates theory from practice in the church – that an inquiring stranger who chances upon both – would scarcely dream that there was any relation between them.

An intelligent observer who had heard the Sunday morning sermon – and later watched the Sunday afternoon conduct of those who had heard it – would conclude that he has been examining two distinct and contrary religions.

That was a scathing critique of Christians and Christianity as Tozer observed them in the 1950s – and although my optimistic and hopeful side wants to think we aren’t like that today – my realistic side has to admit that we are often just hearers – rather than doers of the Word.

Some people have said that there is no more practical book in the Bible than James – and these verses that we have heard today are some of the most direct and practical in this little letter.

But in addition to their practicality – there is also a biting edge to these verses. James doesn’t just say – This is the way you should live. In a fairly confrontational manner – he says – If you are not living this way – then your religion is – and this is very hard to hear – he says – Your religion is worthless.

I think that’s pretty strong language. Twice in this section – James warns us that if we don’t put into practice what we are taught – then we are deceiving ourselves.

Without mincing words – James declares – Those who consider themselves religious – and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues – deceive themselves – and their religion is worthless.

Personally – I think that James could have substituted any number of things for controlling their tongues in that verse – and it would have been just as truthful.

He could have said – If anyone thinks they are religious without controlling their greed – then their religion is useless – and they deceive themselves.

He could just as easily have commanded us to control our hatred – lust – or hostility – just to name a few. The point is – True religion makes a difference. True religion is heart felt and life changing.

Another theologian – William Barclay – wrote – James does well to remind us that – that which is heard in the holy place – must be lived in the market place – or there is no point in hearing at all.

So – with that in mind – how does James define religion that makes a difference? In the verses that we heard today – I’d say that James wants us to see that religion that makes a difference – can be characterized by three things – Godly language – Godly love – and Godly lifestyle. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.

Firstly – religion that makes a difference is characterized by – Godly language.

In verse 19 – James wrote – My dear brothers and sisters – take note of this – Everyone should be quick to listen – slow to speak and slow to become angry

Then in verse 26 – as we already noticed – he added – Those who consider themselves religious – and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues – deceive themselves – and their religion is worthless.

Hardly any test of one’s religion could be more practical and revealing as this one. Are we able to listen? Do we know when and how to hold our tongue? Can we control our temper – which typically reveals itself through our tongue?

I don’t think that being known for a sharp tongue and a fiery temper would make anyone appear to be a good model of Christianity.

There was a young man who once approached Socrates – the great philosopher – to ask if Socrates would teach him how to win an argument. As the young man made his request – he kept talking with an incessant stream of words.

Finally – Socrates placed his hand over the young man’s mouth and said – Young man – I will have to charge you a double fee.

When the fellow asked why – Socrates explained – I will have to teach you two sciences. First – how to hold your tongue – and then – how to use it wisely.

Proverbs 18:21 says – The tongue has the power of life and death – and those who love it will eat its fruit. If we are going to have a religion that makes a difference in our lives – and in the lives of others – then it must be characterized by Godly speech – and Godly words.

Second – Religion that makes a difference is characterized by Godly love. In verse 27 – we hear this – Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…

One of the first things we note about authentic religion is that it is relationship oriented. You can’t look at it like some type of plan – believe these things – say these things – do these things. As I’m sure you’ve heard – Jesus Himself boiled it down to two commandments – Love God – and Love your Neighbor.

True religion accepts God’s gracious love – and passes it on to others. And Godly love is far more than a love that says – because you love me – I love you back. Godly love is a love for those who are downtrodden and in distress – a love for those who are weak and vulnerable.

When the Book of James was written – the widows and orphans were certainly among the most vulnerable and needy – and for that reason they are recipients of divine concern. Psalm 68:5 declares that God is – A father to the fatherless – a defender of widows.

As long as there are widows and orphans in the world – as long as there are homeless and poor people – as long as there are victims of abuse – crime and illness – then true religion calls us to do something about it.

In the second chapter of James – he will challenge us about putting our faith and love into action. He asks the question – Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him – Go – I wish you well – keep warm and well fed – but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16)

Religion that makes a difference is characterized by Godly love – a love that looks out for the needs of others – especially the most vulnerable.

Third – Religion that makes a difference is characterized by a Godly lifestyle. In verse 21 – James wrote – Therefore – get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent…

And in verse 27 – he concluded – Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this – to look after orphans and widows in their distress – and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James is challenging us to be holy and pure.

We deceive ourselves – and we harm our witness – when we claim to be a Christian – but then continue to live as though we have never heard the words of Christ.

Much of the world we live in thrives on the filth and evil that James warns us about – and it’s easy to get caught up in that – but as Christians – our calling demands that we take seriously the task of removing that filth and evil from our lives.

Yes – it’s all around us. Yes – everybody else is doing it. Yes – it’s hard to resist it. But with God’s help – we can and must live a godly lifestyle.

We must strive for Godly business ethics – and Godly social ethics. We must keep away from us things like cheating and lying – gambling and addiction and promiscuity and violent entertainment.

Does any of this sound easy? Not by a longshot. Religion that makes a difference is hard and it requires our constant attention and our very best effort. More than that – it requires God’s assistance.

The good news is that James not only tells us what we must be – but he gives us some insight into how we can be successful. James gives us three steps that enable us to develop a religion that makes a difference.

James says that we must regularly listen to the word. Remember – in verse 19 – it says – My dear brothers and sisters – take note of this – Everyone should be quick to listen – slow to speak – and slow to anger. We often do the opposite – we are quick to anger and quick to speak – and slow to listen.

The old saying is true – God gave us two ears and one tongue – so we should do twice as much listening as speaking. Certainly we must learn to listen to others – but more importantly we must learn to listen to God.

We must open ourselves up to hearing God’s voice. And God’s voice is heard in Scripture. And God’s voice is heard in the godly counsel and teaching of God’s people. And God’s voice is heard in the soft whispers and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

We will not be successful in having a religion that makes a difference, without having a listening heart and mind.

But – just hearing won’t cut it. We must do more than hear. James says that we must humbly accept the word. The second half of verse 21 says – humbly accept the word planted in you – which can save you.

Notice that James says that the Word is planted in us. James is saying that our heart is like a garden – and the Word is like a seed. I’m sure you remember Jesus’ – Parable of the Sower.

In that parable

– Jesus warned us about having a heart that is hard – or rocky – or weedy. Once we hear the word – we must accept it – which means we must receive it and believe it.

But additionally – we need to keep our soil free from hardness and weeds – so that the Word can take root and grow without hindrance.

Even though these first two steps are important in helping us have a religion that makes a difference – they are incomplete without the final step. James says that we must immediately obey the word. Hearing the Word – and accepting the Word – are useless without obeying the Word.

James wrote – Do not merely listen to the word – and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and – after looking at himself – goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (1:22-24)

James humorously illustrates his point with the mirror illustration. How many of you spent some time looking at a mirror this morning?

Why do we look at ourselves in the mirror? We want to look our best – right? We want our hair to look its best. Me – when I’m shaving – I want to make sure I do a good job – no missed spots – sideburns even.

So – when we look in the mirror and see that there is some work to be done – we don’t just forget about it and walk away. Instead – we get to work on what needs attention – right? If we notice that our hair is sticking up or lying flat from our pillow – we don’t just ignore it and say – that will have to do.

If we notice there is a fleck of pepper stuck between our teeth – we don’t say – I think I will leave it there – I may need it later. No – when we look in the mirror and see something that needs attention – we do something about it.

But unlike a physical mirror – which only reflects our outward appearance – the mirror of Scripture reveals our inner character and reveals where our lives need work. It doesn’t do us any good to look intently into God’s mirror – to see what needs to be addressed – and then walk away and do nothing about it.

But James gives us this wonderful promise. Listen to verse 25 – But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom – and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard – but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.

Religion that is all about listening – but never gets around to doing – is worthless – and if we think otherwise – we are just deceiving ourselves – that’s what James is trying to tell us.

We must not only learn to listen to the Word – but we must also humbly accept it and then immediately obey it. And if our religion is going to be acceptable to God – and really make a difference – then it must be characterized by Godly language – Godly love – and a Godly lifestyle.

God will bless us – and will bless others through us – when we put His Word into practice.

Amen.

Hymn: “Lord, Speak To Me”

Video: One Prayer

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “The Servant Song”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Fugue in B major BWV 868 – Bach Played by Katie Sun

Sunday, August 15, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 25, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Sweet By and By – Joseph Webster, arr. Mark Hayes

Opening Video: God Is Here

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “God of Wonders”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14 New International Version

2:10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. 11 He had reigned forty years over Israel—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.

3:3 Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”

Solo: A Living Circle – words and music by Ralph Carmichael

Message:

The Deep End

1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14

I’ve said a lot of prayers in my life. Generally – you hear the formal ones – opening prayer – prayers for the people or pastoral prayers – final blessings – the ones that are all part of our worship service.

And then there are the less formal ones – start and end of a meeting – prayers with people who ask for something in particular – or with people in the hospital – prayers and blessings for someone’s new car.

Some long – some short. Someone once told me that the best blessing for a meal was the shortest one – thank you God. But then – using Irish slang for thank you – and an affectionate way of calling God Father – you can shorten it even more to just – Da Pa – which roughly translates to – thanks dad.

But I don’t think that any of the prayers that I’ve given could be considered – the perfect prayer. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the perfect prayer – but I’ve heard of one that comes pretty close.

It came out of the mouth of a six-year-old boy. His mother told the story to another minister – who then posted it online. They were at a local swimming pool – and her son was standing at the deep end – his toes curled over the edge. Still unsure of himself in the water – he stood there for what seemed to her like a very long time.

Hesitating – Meditating – Palpitating. And just when it seemed that he was going to back away from the edge – he looked up to the sky – put his hands together – and said – O Lord – give me skills or GIVE ME GILLS! And he jumped.

Give me skills or give me gills. That pretty much covers all the bases – doesn’t it? O Lord, give me what I need to overcome what I’m facing – but if you won’t do that – give me what I need to endure it. Give me skills or give me gills.

I want you all to remember that prayer – and what it’s really asking for. Say it yourself when you’re in those tough situations. It’s surprising how many times I’ve used it myself since I first heard it. But maybe it shouldn’t be all that surprising.

In his book – Hustling God – Craig Barnes – wrote this about the Christian life – (the Christian’s) calling is not primarily to accomplish something – but to serve God who will always lead you to places where you are in way over your head. Barnes is reminding us that God has a habit of tossing us into the – deep end – of life. O Lord – give me skills – o r give me gills.

Our reading from First Kings finds Solomon in way over his head. His father – King David – is dead – and now – he – is the head of his family.

He’s grieving – he’s afraid – he’s carrying a heavy load. He’s no longer swimming in the safety of the shallow end of his childhood. With one swift toss – Solomon has landed – headfirst – in the deep end of adulthood.

And what a deep end it was. It isn’t just the loss of his father that Solomon is forced to confront – it’s who his father was. His father was David – the great king of Israel – the slayer of Goliath – the liberator from the Philistines – the original Raider of the Lost Ark – the unifier of the tribes – the master musician and wordsmith – the “man after God’s own heart.”

So with David’s death – Solomon not only took his place at the head of his own family – but he was now the head of the kingdom as well – ready or not – and it was clear that Solomon was not ready.

But he should have been – right – I mean – for years – Solomon had known that this day would come. Just like our prince Charles or Prince William – His whole life was a preparation for the day that he would become king – everyone expects them to be ready. And yet – when the day does come – Solomon seems totally unprepared for it.

The author of our story is kind to Solomon when he writes – Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David – except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.

They sort of try to gloss by it – but that’s a fairly strong except there. The second half of that sentence certainly seems to bring into question the first half. Solomon loved the Lord – following the instructions of his father David – except – he wasn’t – David wouldn’t have honoured the high places – and doing so would never have been part of his instructions

I think what the author is trying to tell us – as gently as possible – is that while Solomon tried to follow in his father’s footsteps – it was clear that he was very definitely – not – his father. He was – in fact – a bit of a mess. He was in way over his head.

But the good thing – the saving grace – if you will – was that Solomon knew it. And when confronted with it – he ‘fesses up to it.

Solomon had lost the way to God – trying to find it by going to Gibeon the highest of the high places – to offer sacrifices – if only he had listened to his dad – he would know that wasn’t the way to God.

But the really great thing is – that even when he has forgotten or just abandoned the way to God – God finds the way to him. God finds Solomon in Gibeon – where he has mistakenly gone once again – to make some more sacrifices and to burn some more incense – even though he knew better.

There might be a perfectly logical reason why Solomon would be so devoted to worshipping in the high places – a reason that has nothing to do with his faith or the lack thereof.

Going to those places – putting on the appearance of worship – Solomon buys himself some time. It would take quite a while to offer 1000 burnt sacrifices. Days – or even weeks I would guess. At the very least – it was time-consuming enough that it required him to camp out there for a few nights.

And as long as Solomon is worshipping in the high places – he doesn’t have to get about the difficult task of being the king – of truly following in his father’s footsteps. He doesn’t have to take the leap into the deep waters of the great unknown. He can stay in the safe – shallow end of his life.

It’s the perfect disguise really. His people see what he’s doing as an act of deep devotion – when – in reality – he’s doing it all out of fear.

It looks to all the kingdom like Solomon is constantly running to God for help – when it’s really the opposite – he’s constantly running away. But lucky for him – not even Solomon can run in his sleep. And that’s where the Lord finds him.

The Lord appears to Solomon in a dream and asks him what he wants. Because it’s a dream – and because there’s no one else listening in or looking on – Solomon is able to be truthful to God – and to himself – and he can unburden his heart to God.

This is what he says – You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number

Solomon was saying – in effect – I’m not up to this God. You put me in the place of my father – but I’m not my father – I have no idea what I’m doing – I’m scared to death. Then Solomon tells God what he wants –

Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?

It’s a prayer really. O Lord – give me what I need to overcome what I’m facing – but if you won’t do that – give me what I need to endure it.

In other words – O Lord – give me skills or give me gills. And the Lord gives Solomon both!

So – God said to him – Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked.

I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.

The rest – as they say – is history. It came to pass just as the Lord had said. And King Solomon is still known today for his wisdom – for his – understanding mind – which is – I think – a bit of a shame.

For unless you know how Solomon acquired that wisdom – you might think he was born with it. but we know differently. It was a gift. The only thing Solomon really knew and understood – was that he didn’t know anything about being king. But he did have the courage to fess up about it – and ask God for the one thing that he really needed.

If Craig Barnes is right – and God – is – constantly leading us into places where we are in way over our heads – then this story about Solomon is an important one. It means we can relax a bit about our shortcomings – or if not relax – then it means we can at least stop pretending that we have everything under control.

It means we can stop wasting time and energy on our own high places – our own personal Gibeons – pretending to be something – or someone – that we’re not.

It means we might as well stop running away from God – because God is going to find us anyway. It means that when we realize all that we can’t do – we are in a perfect position to discover all that God can do.

It means that if we can’t avoid the challenge set before us – if we’re going to be heading into the deep end sooner or later – one way or another – we should ask God for what we need to overcome it – or what we need to endure it.

We should boldly pray for skills or for gills – confident that God will always give us one or the other.

And sometimes – like Solomon – we may even get both. But however the answer comes – God always comes with it. And that – as Solomon discovered in the middle of the night in Gibeon – is the very best news of all.

Let’s pray. O Lord – how often we find ourselves in over our heads. When our toes are curled over the edge of the deep unknown – give us the faith to jump – confident that you will either give us the skills we need to overcome what we’re facing – or the abilities we need to endure it. Either way – we trust that you will be with us. And that will be more than

Amen.

Hymn: “In Christ Alone”

Video: One Prayer

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Amazing Grace”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Oh God, Hear My Prayer – Johann Walther

Sunday, August 8, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 25, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Fantasia on “Forest Green” – trad. English melody arr. Lani Smith

Opening Video: You Are

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “Holy, Holy, Holy”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

John 6:35, 41-51 New International Version

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Solo: It is enough” from Elijah – based on 1 Kings 19 music by Felix Mendelssohn – Sung by Sheikh Ali

Message:

Bread of Life

Ephesians 4:1-16

For some reason – and who can ever understand the algorithms of popularity – my YouTube feed has been recommending clips from the old Indiana Jones movies.

Now I don’t mind – I used to love the series – well at least the first and the third one – true to general movie sequel rules – the second one was terrible.

It makes sense that I’d like the first and third – in those two – Indiana Jones was searching for a biblical artifact. Raiders of the Lost Ark – is about the Nazis trying to find Israel’s lost Ark of the Covenant in order to use its power for their evil plans

And – The Last Crusade – is about Indiana’s and his father’s search for the Holy Grail – the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper – because people believed it had the power to grant everlasting life.

Indiana Jones is a fictional character – but there was a real – historical – character named Ponce de Leon – a Spanish explorer – who spent most of his life searching all around Florida trying to find the mythical fountain of youth.

I think it’s a common desire in all humans – to live forever. The great theologian – Woody Allen – once said – I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

But sometimes our plans don’t work out the way that we would hope that they would. Sometimes – in the midst of our feeble attempts at success – we find a better plan.

For example – back in high school – I wanted to be a pilot – a military pilot. I’d had some training – and I’d been accepted to attend the Royal Military Collage in Kingston. I thought that I’d serve 20 years as an air force pilot – and then retire and become a commercial pilot. But in my final semester of high school – my eyesight deteriorated – being a pilot was out of the question.

So – instead I became a computer engineer – working with main frame computers – I was succeeding very well in that career – making a fair bit of money – more than I ever would have as a pilot – but with the advent of more powerful desk-top computers – the bottom fell out of the mainframe business.

So – I settled into a new career – the outdoor retail market. I knew I could be quite happy spending the rest of my life involved in camping – hiking – canoeing – kayaking – and cross-country skiing.

Each time my career changed – I moved from higher levels of stress – to a slower pace – and I had more time on my hands – time that allowed me to get closer to God – work more for the church.

Eventually – my call to serve God on a more committed level got stronger and stronger.

At the time, I didn’t see God’s plan at work but now – looking back – it all makes sense.

God’s plan was better than my own. I’m glad that my plans didn’t work out – it’s always better in the long run when God’s plan plays itself out.

We always think that we know what’s best for ourselves – in our careers – in our lives. We think we know what it is we need – what will make us successful – happy.

There was a survey taken from among people from all ethnic backgrounds – cultures – religions – social status – and walks of life. One of the questions they were asked was – How satisfying or fulfilling is your life? The answer was alarming – more than 70% of the respondents answered that they were dissatisfied with their lives.

They felt that their lives were not really fulfilling – life felt meaningless – without purpose. The answer was the same among poor people and rich. It was the same among successful executives and among the unemployed and uneducated. It was the same for atheists and religious people.

I often meet with people who are dissatisfied with their lives. They feel that there is something essential missing. They are restless – looking for something that would make them feel happy and fulfilled. But they can’t find it.

The psychologist Abraham Maslow became famous years ago for his diagram of a pyramid representing a hierarchy of human needs. He claimed that if the most basic needs in the bottom layer have not been met – the needs higher up in the pyramid cannot motivate people.

It makes sense – on the bottom level are the most basic human needs – air – food – drink – shelter – warmth and sleep. These are essential for our survival. If you can’t breathe – you’ll hardly be motivated by a career opportunity. If you have nothing to eat or drink – you won’t give much thought to attending a concert or an art exhibition.

Only once your most basic needs have been met – will your thoughts and desires go to secondary things like safety – love and belonging – or esteem.

Maslow said – It is quite true that one lives by bread alone – when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled?

He continues – At once other – and – higher – needs emerge and these – dominate our thoughts. And when these in turn are satisfied – again new – and still – higher – needs emerge and so on.

The Bible disagrees with Maslow at least on one thing – we do – not – live on bread alone.

When Jesus was in the wilderness – He fasted for forty days. In the end – He was very hungry – and there was no bread. So Satan – who must have known Maslow’s hierarchy inside out – suggested that Jesus turn some of the stones into bread.

Even though Jesus was very hungry – on the point of starvation – He refused – And He quoted the words from Deuteronomy 8:3 – no one lives on bread alone – but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

It was this latter bread—the word of God—that Jesus offered the crowds who were following him everywhere. He was eager and determined to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.

But most people in the crowd were after something else. They had seen Jesus performing signs by healing the sick. So those who were sick followed him in the hope to be healed.

And those who were healthy wanted to be there to witness the sensational miracles for themselves. Their lives were empty – and they felt that the entertainment that Jesus offered would fill some of the vacuum inside.

But then – as the day wore on – the people felt their stomachs protest. Most of them had not had anything to eat for hours. And that’s where – quite in line with the theory of Maslow – their empty stomachs started taking over.

I won’t go into detail about what happened next – but Jesus fed the 5,000+ people there – and then left the crowd behind – but not for long.

The next day – the crowds found out where Jesus had gone and went after him – and that’s when Jesus rebuked them and said – You are looking for me – not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils – but for food that endures to eternal life – which the Son of Man will give you.

What Jesus says here – is a modification of the Maslow hierarchy. He says that the most elementary needs we have are not physical or physiological needs. Our spiritual needs are much more basic. Air – bread – and water will only keep us alive for a limited time – we all know that our bodies will not last forever. Our deeper and more fundamental needs are for – food that endures to eternal life.

Many people are looking for such spiritual food – they look to various religions – they turn to yoga – or mindfulness. But Jesus doesn’t talk about religion or yoga or mindfulness – He speaks about himself –

I am the bread of life that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.

You have to love the language of Jesus – He says profound things and we are left wondering – how literally are we supposed to take this statement? Surely – He’s being metaphorical He can’t mean exactly what he’s saying – and yet he seems to mean exactly what he’s saying.

But you need to remember – that for the Jewish people that He was speaking to – eating was synonymous with living. When Moses leads the people out of Egypt – he takes them from a place where slavery was a way of life – but at least there was always food and water. The people of God did not have freedom – but they did have breakfast – lunch – and dinner.

After all the plagues were finished – Pharaoh freed the people – and they headed out into the desert. But with freedom came something else – grumbling.

Grumbling because they were tired. Grumbling because they were hungry. Grumbling because freedom had seemingly cost them breakfast – lunch – and dinner.

The pathetic statement of disbelief is confessed often in the desert – It would have been better to stay as slaves in Egypt then to die here in the desert. Was that God’s plan for his chosen people? Was that God’s plan for the great – great – great grandparents of the Messiah?

Was God so short-sighted that he only made a plan for escape – without a plan for breakfast – lunch – and dinner.

Of course God had a plan. And God’s plan is always better than our plan. Nobody ends up dehydrating in the desert – water can come from rocks. Nobody ends up starving – manna falls from the sky.

But that’s not good enough. The grumbling starts again – and prayers of thanksgiving turn to finger pointing. We’re tired of this food – Tired of miracles – tired of God’s intervention – tired of freedom?

What exactly are they complaining about? One of the things that I love about God – is that he doesn’t just answer the prayer of righteous people – but sometimes even answers the prayer of the grumbler.

So – here’s your water – here’s your manna floating down from heaven every day to keep you alive in the desert – and just so you know I love you – how about some juicy quail fajitas?

You would think all miracles from God for the Israelites – and all the miracles that Jesus had performed – would have meant something to the people. All that grumbling and demanding more.

But I know I’m guilty of the same. Clothes overflowing my closets – and still not content. Food overflowing at my table – and yet I want more s pice – more flavour – and bigger portions. A beautiful roof over my head – and yet I still get jealous about the new place going up down the road.

Like the Israelites – my basic needs are met – actually much more than met – but we always come up with new needs.

Jesus declares – I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry – and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

If you thought manna and quail fajitas were amazing – how about never being hungry again – how about eternal life? But then – Jesus’s enemies react by grumbling. More grumbling from God’s chosen people. The same story being lived out once again.

God’s plan is not our plan. It’s sad but true. In Deuteronomy 8:3-4 – God is showing His love when He says – I fed you when you hungered to teach you that no-one lives on bread alone – but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet didn’t swell during those 40 years in the desert.

The hand of God was all over the people. Freedom from slavery – seas opening up – water – manna – quail – clothes that won’t wear out after 40 years – why do we so quickly forget?

Jesus does the same thing. Taking bread and fish for a few – and turning it into a feast for thousands. He cooks fish on the shore for the disciples when they can’t catch a thing – He overflows their nets when their human skills let them down.

But if you stop there you would have completely missed the point. God’s deliverance of His people wasn’t about manna – and Jesus’s life – death – and resurrection – were not about bread and fish. Something better is entering into our world. God’s plan is more profound than we ever could have imagined.

Jesus is the bread of life – not because he merely feeds us and teaches us – but because He’s the savior who rescues us. A savior who comes after us when we are wandering.

Think Exodus – we’re like the Israelites – grumbling about food When God is trying to deliver them from Pharaoh and slavery.

We grumble about not having the desire of the next level on Maslow’s pyramid – but Jesus is offering us so much more.

God’s plan is that we feed on Jesus – on his love – on his teaching – on the community of his church. We won’t go hungry – ever again – when we align our desires on the world that Jesus came to give us.

Amen.

Video: Communion

Solo: “Fill My Cup, Lord Sung By Alicia Seifert

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “There’s A Spirit In The Air”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Redemption – Bethany Smith

Sunday, August 1, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 25, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Be Known to Us in Breaking Bread – John Day, arr. Garrett Parker

Opening Video: Church Differently

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “All Creatures of Our God and King”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Ephesians 4:1-16 New International Version (NIV)

4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”

9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Song: Beautiful Things

Message:

The Thunk and the Gap

Ephesians 4:1-16

I didn’t have to use the scripture that we heard Sue read for what I want to talk about this morning – and I definitely didn’t need to use all of it.

All I really needed was the first three verses where St Paul writes – I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Those three verses convey the primary message of the gospels – a message that tells us how to act – and how to interact with others.

Be humble – be gentle – be patient – love.

It’s the same concept summed up by Jesus in the second part of His great commandment – Love the Lord your god with all your heart – and love your neighbor as yourself.

I try to live by that – I try – but I know I don’t always succeed – particularly with one neighbour who I share a fence line with.

But – as I’m sure you have all come to know – neighbour is supposed to be understood in much broader sense than those who live near you.

I don’t live in Mississauga – but everyone who lives around our church is my neighbour. Actually – everyone who lives in the greater Toronto area is my neighbour – in Canada – north America – everywhere. And they are all your neighbors too.

Do you love them all – as you love yourself? That’s the primary calling of being a Christian – love God – love your neighbour.

Do all your neighbours know that’s how you try to live your lives? If they did – then I’m sure that the rest of the world would want there to be more of us – more people who – love God – and love our neighbours – more Christians.

Theologian – Jim Hopewell – talks about a phenomenon he calls the – Thunk – which is what he says happens when someone – with no connection to Christianity – discovers that you’re a priest or a pastor.

Dr. Hopewell told the story of a time when he was traveling on a plane – without his clergy collar – carrying on a perfectly normal conversation with the guy seated next to him. Eventually – the topic turned to what each guy did for a living.

I’m a priest – Dr. Hopewell confessed. And that’s when it happened – The Thunk – that palpable – unmistakable – inevitable change in the relational dynamic – when someone discovers that you’re a fairly committed Christian. Any pastor or minister or priest can tell you about her or his own experiences with the Thunk.

But you don’t have to be some type of professional clergy to know the feeling – any Christian – not just ordained ones – can experience the Thunk.

Just start throwing around the words – Christian – or – church – in everyday situations – and see what kind of response you get. I’ve done this – by the way. I’ve struck up conversations with people that I’ve been standing in line with – and then I intentionally mention that I’m a minister.

After the inevitable – Thunk – the conversations usually end with the person pretending that something else has become more important – like their phone.

But sometimes – once they regain their composure – they start telling me their thoughts on Christianity – and it’s usually not pretty.

If I ever get a chance to contribute to the conversation again – it’s usually to explain to them all the things that I’m NOT – rather than the things that I am.

There is a lot to overcome when someone finds out that you’re a Christian – not even to mention a Christian minister.

There’s an immediate credibility problem that has to be dealt with – because we Christians are often thought of as narrow-minded – bigoted – judgmental – uneducated – backward people.

And – church – is often thought of as the place where we narrow-minded people gather to reinforce our stereotypes and to point condemning fingers at those outside our walls.

Now – I realize that that is an unfair stereotype. Not all Christians are that way. But you have to know that such a stereotype is alive and well in many places on Planet Earth.

And it’s a stereotype that is constantly perpetuated by the media – how often do you read stories in the news about the – good – done by Christians.

if Christianity is featured in an article – it’s generally about some current or past wrong perpetrated by those claiming to be Christians.

Or it’s a story about some group out on the fringe that holds to beliefs and practices considered outdated to the majority of Christians – groups that try to use some type of contorted Christian message to further their own agenda.

It’s a sad thing – because we know that there is a brand of Christianity that is better than the widely-publicized brand of Christianity that is ethnocentric – anti-scientific – homophobic – imperialistic – defensive – condemning – rejecting – and afraid.

We know that a different Christianity exists. We know that there are followers of Jesus who are open-minded – well-educated – and accepting.

We know that there are followers of Jesus who are spiritually mature – intellectually honest and psychologically savvy.

We know that there are followers of Jesus who guard against unfair stereotypes – refuse to be judgemental – and who work to eliminate prejudice in their own minds and wherever else they see it.

But there are many people outside of Christianity who do not know that – because people who practice Christian spirituality – with spirits – and brains – and souls fully engaged – are not the ones who make the headlines.

And that’s why I think that the – Thunk – that you and I experience when we have these conversations with people outside the church’s walls can be explained by – the Gap. The Thunk is a function of the Gap.

There is a gap between Christianity and the world. It’s a gap that has been growing over the course of the last century or so – and this gap significantly impedes our ability to engage people outside the Church’s walls.

The reasons for the gap are multi-faceted – but to put it simply – the Gap exists for two reasons.

Number one – as I’ve already mentioned – the Christian message can get hijacked by people who have helped create for Christians a reputation that we do not want – and that is difficult for us to overcome.

Many people think that Christians are backward and blind – and that’s one reason for the gap between Christianity and the world.

Secondly – the Gap that gives rise to the Thunk exists because there are many people who have been hurt by Christian religion – a concept that is often called – religious wounding.

And we can never expect our faith communities to attract the people we would love to reach – until we have helped to repair the damage that we have done through attitudes and practices that have caused injury to people.

It might not represent who we are now – but there is no denying that past generations of Christians – have – acted in ways that helped to earn for us the lousy reputation that we have.

It’s essential that we recognize the damage to others – the damage that has occurred in the past – and remains today – due to our action or inaction.

And that we begin to communicate our apology to the world outside the church. Only then can we ever reduce the risk of encountering the Thunk – start to shrink the Gap.

Religious wounding takes place at the intersection of faulty religious teaching – and human growth. When religious teaching thwarts growth instead of promoting it – when it steps on human blooming instead of tenderly nurturing it – becomes severely wounding.

When a person living in a loveless or even an abusive marriage sits in church and hears that divorce is always wrong – a wound can be inflicted.

When a faithful person struggles with poverty and hears in church that material wealth is a sign of divine blessing – a wound can be inflicted.

When a young person struggling with gender identity or sexual orientation sits in church and hears that straight is right and gay is wrong – a wound can be inflicted.

When a group hears about how the ways of their ancestors were considered something that they needed to be cured of – a wound can be inflicted.

The number of religious wounds can be as numerous as the number of people who have walked at the intersection of human growth and faulty religious teaching. And it’s a very large number.

People outside the church can get a little nervous when they’re around Christians. People outside the church experience the Thunk when they interact with us. That’s because there’s a Gap between us and them – because they often think that we’re backward and blind – and some of them have been sorely hurt by religious people who have stepped on them instead of helping them.

But I have some good news. We can do something to close that Gap – and to lessen the effects of that Thunk.

Now – we can’t do anything about the Gap between people who are abusing the Christian message and those outside the Church – but we can do something about the Gap between the type of Christianity that truly believes in the commandment to love your neighbour – and those outside the church.

Here’s how we do it. We do it in six A’s.

Number 1. We can acknowledge – and I think we should acknowledge – out loud – that religious wounding exists. We need to do our homework – find out about the people –

both inside and outside the church – who struggle with self-limiting thoughts or feelings or behaviors because they’ve been injured by oppressive and faulty religious teaching. They’re out there – find out about them – acknowledge them.

Number 2. We can apologize. I understand that not every Christian individual or community has inflicted a religious wound. But – unfortunately – outside of the church – all Christians get lumped together – and it’s time for us to stand up and apologize for the ways in which Christianity has often been hurtful – and not helpful.

Maybe it’s time to think about adding a new line to our church sign that says – If you’ve been hurt by the Church – we’re sorry.

Even if we didn’t directly inflict the hurt – we are associated with those who did – and the process of our taking responsibility for the harm that has been done in the name of Christianity – will go a long way toward cushioning the Thunk and shrinking the Gap.

Third – Not only must we acknowledge and apologize – we must be very diligent to ensure that we – articulate – a Christianity that is smart and kind – that is honest – and in touch with the scientific and historical discoveries of the world. That is sensitive to the shifts that have led us into our current culture – and that is logical – and obviously good for people.

That approaches the complex issues of gender and sex with understanding and sophistication – that employs the best of scholarship to read – understand – and apply the truths of Scripture.

That turns its head – hands and feet to the issues that face this world – and that helps move Christianity out of the dark ages and into a place of meaningful participation among the peoples of the world in this day and age.

The next thing we can do – is to act. Acknowledging – apologizing – and articulating are nothing if we don’t act. We have to act to bring to an end to any teaching – or any policy in our churches that damages – supresses – or thwarts genuine human cultural growth.

Think creatively about how we can be an instrument of change. Resist injustice and oppression with our voices and with our words and with our actions. Action of this kind is often unpopular – but it helps to bring healing to those we have hurt – and it also helps to bring us closer to the same kind of unpopular ministries of love and justice that led to the rejection of the prophets and to the death of Jesus.

Then – we can advertise. Get to know people who don’t go to church. And when you find them – tell them about this sermon. Tell them that we truly want to love all our neighbours – tell them that we aren’t all bad – but that we accept responsibility for those who are – and that we are acting to bring real change in aid of those who have been hurt.

But remember – not everyone with whom you share this good news will enter our church – in fact – if more than a couple of people choose to come – I’d be ecstatically encouraged – but that’s not the point of your sharing anyway. Were trying to reduce the gap – eliminate the Thunk.

And then – prepare to be astonished. When the people who really love Jesus – and really love their neighbour – get radically and extravagantly kind and welcoming to all people – then we will have the opportunity to establish the kind of human community that can turn this world upside down.

We really can live out the kind of justice and mercy that Jesus said is what the whole thing is all about. And it will be astonishing.

Amen.

Video: Communion

Solo: “We Remember You “ – words and music by Walt Harrah; arr. Lloyd Larson

Holy Communion

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “There’s a Wideness In God’s Mercy”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Communion – Félix Guilmant

Sunday, July 25, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 25, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Let there be praise and honour for the Father of all goodness – Johann Krebs

Opening Video: Miracles Intro

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

John 6:1-21 New International Version (NIV)

6:1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

Solo: He Is There

Words by Robert Liddell
Music by Ralph Cruickshank Arr. by Eric Wild
Sung by Simone McParland

Message:

Walking on Water

Matthew 14:22-33

I find it funny that sceptics of the bible often say that one of the things that convinces them that the stories – can’t – be true – is that miracles just don’t happen. Moses initiating the seven plagues on Egypt – a burning bush that speaks – parting the Red Sea – the sun standing still for a day – those things just couldn’t have happened – they’ll say – and that’s just a few miracles from the – OLD Testament.

But just stop and think about it for a minute – the word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – is in no way confined to the bible – or even just to Biblical times.

The word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – is very much part of our modern world and our everyday lives. In spite of all the technological advances – and scientific sophistication – that is part of our modern lives – the word – miracle – is still very much part of our contemporary vocabulary – and the experience of the miraculous – seems to occur almost daily.

Think about it – You open the refrigerator door and you pull out a jar of Miracle Whip – a mayonnaise that spreads so nicely across your bread – and seems to stay fresh forever. Or you unwrap a small – flat bag and put it into something called the microwave – and voila – it puffs up and you have the perfect bag of popcorn – and you say – What a miracle!

In the garden – you pour Miracle Grow onto your plants – and they flourish so splendidly – it has to be a Miracle.

It wasn’t that many years ago that penicillin was discovered – and everyone called it a miracle drug. Soon after that – it was a vaccine to cure polio – and all of our parents said it was a miracle – the children don’t have to fear polio any more. And then – the smallpox vaccine was given to children throughout the whole earth – and there is not one case of smallpox anywhere on the globe and everybody says that it’s a miracle.

And now – there are vaccines against the deadliest threat we’ve faced in our generation – and I call it a miracle. And when a vaccination – or the equivalent – is discovered for cancer – the headlines will shout for joy – Miracle drug found for cancer!

How many times have you seen a report about a car accident – and the body of the car is totally destroyed – and you read about the person who was rescued from the wreck and proclaim – It’s a miracle that anyone came out of that car alive.

My dad lay dying on an operating table – in desperation – they were hooking him up to a heart bypass machine. He’d been in a coma for months – and we had been praying for a Heart transplant – but it looked like the end.

Just as the team was thinking of turning off the machines – we got news that a heart had become available. A team flew across the country and back with the heart in an igloo cooler packed with ice – and his new heart started beating.

People in the hospital said he was the sickest person they had ever known who had lived. Everyone – even the headlines in the newspaper – proclaimed it was a miracle. And my dad became known – at least in some circles – as the miracle man.

The word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – didn’t stop when the writing of the bible stopped – miracles are interwoven throughout our modern lives.

What is a miracle? Miracles aren’t just some type of Biblical magic which confound the mind – such as the body levitating or floating in air – or the magic of a shorter leg miraculously stretching out three or four inches – raising the dead.

The focus of miracles isn’t on some magical voodoo or natural laws that have been violated. Rather – a God given miracle – is a series of events – and the timing of events in such a way – that convince us that God has intervened in our lives. The result of such miraculous intervention is the experience of awe and adoration. We go – wow! – and then we worship God in thanksgiving for the miracle.

For example – one man is scheduled to have heart bypass surgery because of a blockage in his arteries – after proper consultation and planning – he receives a double bypass – and rightfully – he is grateful to God and the doctors.

But another man – goes into the hospital for a simple testing procedure – just as they get started – he begins to have a heart attack on the table. Fear takes over – he feels sharp pain in his heart like he has never felt before – and he overhears the doctor’s intense conversation as they go to work to calm his heart down.

He thinks life is over. A surgeon is immediately found – and an emergency bypass is done. and when he wakes up several hours later – in a strange room – connected to monitors and pumps – and he starts to comprehend what has happened – that man – and likely those around him – will say – That was a miracle. That he is alive is a miracle. He was a walking time bomb – and to have a heart attack on the operating table – the timing couldn’t have been better.

It was the sequence of events – and the timing of events – in the hospital for simple tests – a heart attack on the table – a surgeon immediately available – and now we have someone who is convinced that God intervened in his life. How could someone’s response be anything other than awe and adoration, wow and worship to God.

I want to suggest that we all try to adjust our definition of the miraculous. Change what we think of as a miracle from something like – magic happened – or natural laws were violated – into something broader – more like – the sequence of events – and timing of events has convinced us that – God – has intervened and saved us or helped us. And they are not uncommon or rare events – miracles are very much part of our lives.

Our reading for today is really two stories – but the common thread that links them together is that they are both considered miracle stories. For today – I’m going to focus on the second story – Jesus walking on water.

Lets set the setting. It was religious time in Israel – Passover – that meant a holiday from school – a holiday from work – packing up the donkey and heading to Jerusalem for a religious trip.

It was also tragedy time in Israel – John the Baptist – one of their great prophets and moral visionary – had been assassinated by King Herod – as a nation – they were grieving – and so was Jesus.

And it was popularity time for Jesus – His miracles and teachings had created notoriety – and large crowds were following him like masses of young people following a pop star.

In recent days – we’ve seen Jesus do several miracles in a row. Jesus stilled the storm on Lake Galilee – Jesus then raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead – Jesus cured the sick – He cast out demons – and He just fed five thousand men plus women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish.

The miracle of the walking on the water occurs immediately after all these other miracle stories in the timeline of the Gospels. John isn’t the only one to record this miracle – you might be more familiar with the version that includes Peter stepping out of the boat and joining Jesus. For the sake of this discussion – I’m going to treat them all as one story.

After feeding the five thousand – Jesus sent the crowds home and the disciples out in a boat in Lake Galilee – a large lake – eight miles wide by thirteen miles long. Jesus himself went up into the hills to pray. Meanwhile – the wind on the lake really picked up – and the disciples were having a lot of trouble rowing into that headwind.

The disciples were frustrated by the wind. And then – seemingly out of nowhere – Jesus appeared to the disciples – walking on the water. The Bible says that the disciples were frightened – terrified – crying out – utterly astounded by what they saw – as if they were seeing a ghost.

Their reaction wasn’t – great – here comes Jesus – just like we expected – walking on the water. He must be God. No – they were frightened – shocked – and terrified by what they saw.

And so are you and I – at least when we are in one of those particular moments in life when we experience something that convinces us that there is a God – a God that is real – a God that is truly God – and sees every movement of our lives.

There are times when we finally – and really believe – in the existence of a personal God – and can become frightened about the possibility that He sees us for who we truly are.

When faced with the reality that God has seen everything we have done and thought – our reaction is to be frightened – saying to ourselves – O my God – I’m in big trouble now.

And Jesus – seeing their fears – said to them – Do not be afraid – it is I. And today – God seeing our fears and insecurities – says to us – Don’t be afraid of me. Do not be afraid.

And when Jesus got into the boat with them – the wind died down – and the disciples were in awe – in fearful reverence of Jesus – and they worshipped him as the Son of God – they praised him in thanksgiving for saving them.

Not being able to explain what happened – or how it happened – those disciples believed that they had experienced a miracle – the sequence of events – and the timing of events convinced them that God – that Christ – had intervened and saved their lives.

And what was their reaction? The experience of awe and holiness. And then of worship and thanksgiving. They concluded – truly – Jesus is the Son of God.

When we experience a miracle in the Bible or in real life – we often want to explain what is unexplainable. And so – we rationalize and intellectualize – trying to figure out what happened. For example – we try to explain the walking on the water.

Maybe you’ve heard this joke – it’s not new. A rabbi – a priest – and a united church minister – were fishing in a boat together – not too far from shore. The rabbi used up all his bait – noticed a bait store a short way away – got out of the boat – walked on the water to the bait shop – bought some bait – and returned the same way

Then – the priest ran out of bait – walked on water over to the bait shop and back again and started fishing. Then – the united church minister ran out of bait. Now – he had a look of doubt on his face – but stepped out of the boat – and sank like a stone.

The rabbi looked at him – and said – laughing – Hey – don’t you know where the sand bar is?

It’s just a joke – and not a very good one – but it’s also an attempt to explain how Jesus walked on water. Maybe He walked on a reef. Maybe Jesus knew where the reef was – but Peter didn’t – that’s why Peter sank.

Some scholars will suggest that the Greek language implied that Jesus walked – beside the water – and because of the conditions and the angles – the disciples only thought he was walking on water. These are attempts to rationalize – to explain – to think like a Greek – and ask – how did this happen.

But what I am suggesting – is that something happened that night that we – and they – don’t quite understand – in the sequence of events – and in the timing of those events – they experienced the miraculous saving power of God in their lives.

That’s the miracle – the experience of God’s intervening and saving presence in their lives. It’s not the magic – it’s not the proving how it happened. That’s the wrong focus.

The disciples were in a boat – unable to move in the middle of the lake – they were in trouble – scared – and then Jesus came to them – walking on the water – and saved them. They were awestruck by what they experienced – encountering the holiness of God – and they worshipped Christ as the Son of God in appreciation for what he had done for them. They couldn’t explain it – they didn’t even try to explain it – they just accepted it as a miracle demonstrating the saving power of God.

When my dad finally came out of his coma – this was still a few weeks after the transplant – and he was able to communicate with us again – he asked what happened.

I could have explained how his initial heart surgery had gone wrong – all the heroic efforts that people had gone through to keep him alive.

I could have told him about what was almost his last day – his heart finally giving up and being put on bypass.

I could have explained that a heart was found in BC and the amazing efforts of the doctors who arranged a plane to fly out and bring it back. I could have talked about and detailed every bit of science – skill – and technology involved in the seven-hour transplant operation.

But I didn’t – what I said to my dad – and what I knew to be – was this. Dad – God gave us a miracle.

My dad lived another 30 years after that operation – and one of the ways that he gave back was by talking on behalf of the transplant donor program. Although dad always talked about the importance of being a donor – and of the dedicated people and all the science and resources involved – he always ended with thanking God for bringing the miracle of it all together.

In our story – the focus shouldn’t be on the miracle of walking on water – it should be on the saving of Peter and the disciples in the midst of disaster. The miracle wasn’t the surgeries and the Transplant – the miracle is that my dad was miraculously given another 30 years. Praise God!!!

When it was all said and done – these series of miracles convinced the disciples – and the early church – that Jesus was the Son of God. They experienced several miracles in a row – the stilling of the storm – the raising of Jairus’ daughter – the healing of the lepers – the casting out of demons – the feeding of the five thousand – then the walking on water.

And finally – the disciples slowly came to the conclusion and realization – Truly – this is the Son of God – And they worshipped Christ as Lord.

And through various events in our lives – incomprehensible to us – God works on us – and in us – in such a way that we too – are stopped in our tracks – and slowly we come to the realization – Jesus – you are the Son of God – We worship you.

Amen.

Hymn: “For The Crowd Of Thousands”

Video: Miraculous

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Just As I Am”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Eternal Father, Strong to Save – John Dykes, arr. Larry Shackley

Sunday, July 18, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 18, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Two Chorale Preludes by Friedrich Marpurg:
Lord, as You will, be with me – Gaestorius;
What God ordains is always good – Bach

Opening Video: Worlds Collide

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 New International Version(NIV)

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Solo: Of the Loving Kindness of the Lord – text from Psalm 89,

which is one of the lectionary readings for today; music by Robert Powell
Sung by Sue Brushey

Message:

Let’s go somewhere quiet.

In the gospel of Mark – chapter 6 verse 31 – Jesus said – Come away to a place where there are no cell phones – where the internet is always down – your iPad won’t work – a place where you can rest and be recharged.

Well – not his exact words – but close enough. Now admit it – isn’t that an attractive sounding invitation in the midst of our fast-paced – over-scheduled – information-filled days.

On the surface – I’d say that we seem to enjoy – even live for – the hectic pace of our lives. It’s not very often that you run into someone who’s excited to tell you that they spent the weekend doing nothing in particular – but instead – they’ll talk your ear off telling you about all the things they – did – do.

Our culture supposes that activity and accomplishment are better than rest. We identify ourselves to one another most often by what we do rather than who we are.

Think about the last time you introduced yourself to someone new – if it was anything like my normal introductions – after your name – and maybe where you are from – the first thing you tell someone about yourself is what you do for a living.

It’s so easy to find ourselves slipping into a rhythm of activity that allows little time for refreshment of body and soul. Our busyness seems to preclude time for family meals – in-depth conversation with friends – times to just sit still for a few minutes in the silence.

Last week – I talked about some things God wants us to do when our lives are going good. The second point that I made – was that God would want us to rest and restore ourselves. This week – I’m going to look at what that means a little more closely.

Rest and restoration is closely tied to the biblical concept of Sabbath – which literally means – to cease. And Sabbath is a gift that invites us to step away from our – over scheduled – busy lives – and experience a rest that can only come from God. An invitation to escape to a place apart where one can find Sabbath is enticing.

Mark’s telling of the Jesus story – has a – frantic pace about it. In the sixth chapter of Mark – Jesus sends out his disciples in pairs to go among the villages and teach. He gives them power over unclean spirits. He instructs his disciples not to take food – a bag – or money with them – but to accept with gratitude the hospitality extended to them.

Jesus says to his disciples – If you are not welcomed – not listened to – don’t make a big deal about it – As you leave simply – shake the dust off your feet and keep going. So they went out among the villages proclaiming repentance – casting out demons – and healing many who were sick.

I imagine that when they returned – they couldn’t wait to tell Jesus stories about their accomplishments.

Now – by this time – Jesus and his disciples have been creating quite a stir among the people – so they find it difficult to stop and rest – much less eat a meal in peace. Even as Jesus listens to his disciples’ stories – people are coming and going.

So – Jesus says to his disciples – Let’s go off by ourselves so we can rest – talk about the good you have accomplished and share a quiet meal together. And they all get in a boat and set sail for that deserted place with no cell phone reception – no wi-fi – no interruptions – just Jesus and his friends.

Finally – they get a little time to leave the work at the office – and forget about any schedules – and just rest.

As it turns out – Jesus is on to something. The rhythm of work – along with rest – seems to help human beings function better – and feel better about ourselves.

A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology by a joint team of Canadian and American researchers – confirms what most of us already know. People – regardless of income – working hours – profession – or age – feel better mentally and physically – when they take time off from their labors.

The report states – Our findings highlight just how important free time is to an individual’s well-being. Unrestricted time provides critical opportunities for bonding – exploring other interests – and relaxation.

We know from our reading of Scripture that Jesus observes the Sabbath. We have stories of Jesus being in the synagogue on the Sabbath. We also have stories of Jesus’ struggles with religious leaders over how the Sabbath is to be observed.

He seems to focus more on what is appropriate behavior – and on what Sabbath stands for – rather than on the significance of a particular day for Sabbath observance.

Earlier in Mark’s Gospel – Jesus teaches that Sabbath is a gift. It’s a day to be freed from our labors to enjoy the creation and the Creator. He says – The Sabbath was made for us – not us for the Sabbath. The invitation of Jesus to his disciples to retire to a place where they can rest – take a deep breath – bond with one another – and share in telling their stories – is important for their well-being.

Who among us doesn’t know that things do not always go as planned? As Jesus and the disciples cross the lake in a boat – word spreads that they are on the move. People set out on foot and reached the place Jesus has in mind as a place of rest.

When Jesus and his disciples arrive on the shore – they find a crowd waiting for them. The crowd wants to hear what Jesus has to say. It’s part of the human experience – to seek out what we think is lacking in our lives. The crowd is hungry for an assuring word. They want desperately to be made well – and the word is out that Jesus offers what they most need.

Mark tells us that – Jesus had compassion for them – because they were like sheep without a shepherd – and he began to teach them many things. Although Jesus is most likely tired and hungry himself – He gives the crowd what they most need.

He stops and focuses on people in need. He sees people whose lives are chaotic as they try to provide for their families. He sees people who are confused by the changes in the world about them. He sees people fearful of others who are not just like them. He sees people whose lives are too busy to find answers for themselves. He sees people who simply have lost their way. He sees people who are hungry for reassurance – and long for words of hope. He sees people who need some Sabbath time to spend with God. He sees all the people of the world – he sees them – and He has compassion on them and teaches them.

Today – we are a lot like those people who flocked to Jesus. Those who dwell in the world are terrified of being alone. We live in a world that isn’t just full of noise – but one into which people intentionally introduce and multiply noise.

According to Nielsen – the authority on such matters – the average North American now watches 4-1/2 hours of television – movies – and Internet video each day – that’s 32 hours per week!

I’ll admit – I contribute to those numbers – and I’ve seen enough of those videos to know that there mostly just noise. Why is the world so afraid to go to the quiet place?

Well – what may be found in the quiet place is so unlike what the world knows – it’s the undoing of the media dreamworld – and the discovery of reality – a reality that has meaning and purpose – a definite beginning and an approaching end.

The quiet place is a vulnerable place – the quiet place is a place for self-assessment – what haven’t I done that I should do – and what have I done that was wrong? The quiet place is a holy place – a place where someone might meet God.

God has given us the Sabbath so that we can step aside from the pressures and demands of all our business – and reconnect with Him.

God’s desire is to be in an intimate relationship with you. God gives you the time for both work – and rest – to enable you to be the person He has created you to be. A Sabbath gives you the opportunity to rest physically – but more importantly – it gives you the opportunity to rest and draw near to God.

But – maybe you’re like me. You see – I can understand the importance of rest. The problem is I often can’t work out how to find the time to rest myself. There always seems to be something I need to do.

My mind is always active with things I need to do – today – tomorrow – next week – I feel like I always have a full to-do list:

Write next Sunday’s sermon. Call Paul. Speak to Cathy. Call Diane. Visit Keith. Prepare a funeral. Edit the video. Find some music.

So much to do – yet sometimes – I can’t escape the feeling I’m still not doing enough for Jesus. A good day for me is often defined by getting things done on my list. Not by the people I’ve interacted with – not the time I’ve spent with God – not the things I’ve learned – not if I have rested. Just what I’ve done. What am I really accomplishing by being busy all the time?

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Do you need to learn how to rest and relax?

Jesus says He will show you how to take a real rest – watch how He does it – learn from Him. Jesus offers us rest and He shows us how to do it. Rest is a necessity – not an optional extra – rest is an act of worship – not a sign of laziness.

Jesus made time for spiritual rest – physical rest – and emotional rest. For His spiritual rest – Jesus made time to be alone with God. Early in the morning – during the day – or late at night – draw aside and come into the presence of God. Refreshment and renewal comes from spending time with God. You need to be still so you can hear His voice.

Physical rest – the Bible tells us that even Jesus – the Son of God – slept. I never seem to get enough sleep – it’s that whole – mind working even when the body isn’t thing. But Jesus – Jesus fell asleep in a boat in the midst of a raging storm. When others were counting on His help – Jesus took a nap.

He knew when His body needed physical rest and was unapologetic about taking it. Jesus showed His disciples – and He shows us – the importance of physical rest.

And Jesus knew it was important to withdraw from the crowds for emotional rest. Jesus would move away and leave the crowds of people – even when they desperately wanted Him. In the midst of chaos – when people were demanding His attention – Jesus was clear about what God was calling Him to do and Jesus got into a boat with His disciples and went to the other side – to be away from the multitudes.

Yeah – easier said than done – you might say. Where do we get the time – I’m too busy to stop being busy. But – Jesus calls us away to a quiet place to be with Him. We must go – away from the noise.

Remember that number I gave you earlier – that the average person wastes around 4.5 hours on mindless video each day? Simple – tithe your video time. We generally think of tithing our finances for God – giving 10% of your income back to God.

I’m going to suggest that we give 10% of our video time back to God. Personally – I think the 4 and a half hours that is supposed to be the average – might be a bit high – for the sake of easier math – let’s say it’s between two and a half and three and a half hours.

One tenth of that would between 15 and 20 minutes a day – that’s your tithe – it’s what you give back to God. Are you spending 15-20 minutes alone and quiet with the Lord – just the two of you – apart from all other distractions?

And notice I keep saying – give back – to God. Because that’s what a tithe is – you’re not giving up anything that’s yours to begin with. Whether it’s money or time – it’s all a gift from God in the first place.

And if spending 10% of your video time seems too hard – start smaller – work up to it. If you can truly rest spiritually – physically – and emotionally for 15 to 20 minutes a day with God – it won’t be long before you are thinking that 10% isn’t giving enough back.

When Jesus offers to take your burdens – He means it. Jesus provides the way for you to rest securely in Him.

May I encourage each of us to follow Christ – draw on His strength to live and work – and to take the time to rest – spiritually – physically and emotionally in God.

Remember to observe your time of Sabbath – because hope is found there – when you choose to rest and relax in God.

Amen.

Hymn: “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”

Video: Psalm 23

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “The Church’s One Foundation”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Our God, How Great – Colin Curtis

Sunday, July 11, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 11, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: He Whispered, “Peace, Be Still” – Helen Griggs, arr. Tedd Smith

Opening Video: A Psalm of Worship

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “Holy Is The Lord God Almighty”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 New International Version (NIV)

6:1 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

6:12 So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. 16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. 17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes..

Solo: Love the Lord – words by Richard Row; music by George Handel

Message:

What to do when life is good.

I remember one day – from way back in my school years – that I woke up feeling great after a good night’s sleep. I was refreshed – full of anticipation – just raring to go. For the first time in my life – I was putting on clothes that were less than a year out of fashion – and they were clean and crisp – I was feeling – and looking GOOOOD.

When I got to school – I discovered that – up to that time in the semester – I had straight A’s. at lunch time – there were three different groups of kids wanting me to sit with them.

One of the yearbook photographers was there – and they took a picture of me leaning in close and talking to the best-looking girl in the whole school. I remember sitting there thinking – man these are some good times! Of course – it was only the first day of kindergarten – but still – – –

Everyone has bad days – I know I’ve had my fair share. And over the past year and a half or so – I’d say that we’ve all had more bad days than we deserve. Life is full of confusing times – and it’s filled with times when things go wrong – but it’s also filled with times when things go right. There are times when things are just going goooood!!!

Right now – things are looking up – things are opening up. More and more people are being fully vaccinated. Shopping is easier – it’s easier to get services – everyone’s hair is looking better. Relatively speaking – times are good.

We can all relate to this – sometimes there are times when you look out at the sea of life – and it’s nothing but smooth sailing ahead. Many of us may be thinking – hey life is good – there’s nothing to worry about.

Well – I hate to be the one to break this to you – but we should always be aware that there are some dangerous things that can happen during good times.

I know – I know – stop raining on our parade – what do you mean? How can there be dangerous things to look out for when things seam to be going so good?

Well – one word – Titanic! I think we all know the story about how the maiden voyage of this magnificent boat was supposed to be a triumph of man’s ability to build a boat that could not sink. This boat was bigger and grander than any boat in the world – and the party – for those special guests who got to sail on the maiden voyage – was going to be incredible.

But right as the people were just getting the night going in full swing – and everything was going good – boom – they hit an iceberg. The rest – as we say – is history.

While the people on board were partying without a care in the world – the crew was still controlling the vessel – but even for them – the voyage was going good – until they encountered one of the most dangerous things in the ocean – an iceberg.

The thing that’s so dangerous about an iceberg – isn’t what you can see of them – but what you can’t. Only a small percent of the ice is above the surface of the water – you may see what you think is just a little piece of floating ice – and it turns out to be a deadly underwater mountain of ice.

Here’s my point in all of this – when life is going good – and things are going right – there can still be a very real danger for the Christian lying just beneath the surface.

The danger is that we can become so focused in – and on – ourselves – that we forget about God. We often find it easy to focus on God when things aren’t going well. We ask – Why God? – or God help me – us. When things are bad – we turn to prayer – or to the scriptures for answers. But when things are going good – how often do we think of God.

So – how do we keep focus on God when things are going right? Well – we’ve been looking at David’s life on and off for the past little while – like most of us – his life is made up of both good times and bad – the reading we had today is about one of the better times.

So using the life of this second king of Israel – along with a few other scriptures – lets see if we can figure out what to do when things go right.

The three things that I want to talk about are – Rejoice – Rest – and Reach Out.

Before we look into rejoicing – lets look at David’s story for just a moment. As I mentioned – David was the second king of Israel – but that’s only part of his story.

To begin he was a shepherd boy – who under the first king of Israel – killed the giant Philistine warrior Goliath – with just a sling shot and a stone.

Later on – he is anointed to be the next king – but the first king – Saul – is still in power and getting more and more jealous of David every day. In fact – he tries to kill David – obviously – without success – and finally – David is made the king of Israel.

His first task was to bring back the Ark of the Lord to Israel – and this was a very big deal – because this ark – or box – was the centerpiece for the tabernacle back in the desert during Moses’s time. This is where we pick up our story of things going right.

2 Samuel 6:12-15 – So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets

This is an example of our first point of what to do when things go right – Rejoice – Rejoice in the fact that God has given you a blessing

James 5:13 says – Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.

Now I’m sure we all know that we should praise God during our prayer times. And we are asked to rejoice in the Lord during worship – and those activities – at those times – are important – but it’s just as important to offer praise and rejoice in the midst of our circumstances!!!

It’s so easy for us to get focused on me – me – me – that we totally forget that we are called to depend on God – and keep our eyes on Him – even in the good times.

Like I hinted at before – when I was using the illustration of the Titanic – when things are going right – it can be very easy to forget about the dangers that lie just beneath the surface.

That’s a lack of focus – if we don’t keep our focus – we lose sight of things that may be important. And one of the things that’s important – is remembering where the good times have come from.

In James 1:17 – it says that every good gift is from above – so how do we get this focus off ourselves and back onto God? We do what David did in our scripture – David danced before the Lord with all his might.

Now – this is more than just your basic – happy dance. It’s not some slick rehearsed move that you see after a player has run across the goal line. Those moves don’t proclaim God is good – they shout – look at me – not where we want to put our focus.

David did was simply praising God the best way he could – He was the of king Israel – a dignified statesman – but he said that he would become even more undignified than that – in his praising of God.

David realized that his good times were a blessing from God – and therefore God deserved to be praised – and thanked – and celebrated with all his might. Just imagine how our lives might be different if every time we got a good grade on a test – or a promotion – or something good happened in our lives – we praised and worshiped God with all our might!!!

I think we’d begin to see some fairly radical changes – if we would take the focus off of ourselves – and give God the glory.

Next – when things are going good – Rest – and be restored by God.

Just after our reading from today at the beginning of the 7th chapter of 2nd Samuel it says this – After the king was settled in his palace – and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him – he said to Nathan – and the story goes on from there.

It says that – the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies – so – another thing we should do when things go right – is rest and be restored by God.

When you get sick – what do the doctors tell you to get lots of? They tell you to get lots of rest – because your body needs a chance to restore itself back to full health. The same can be said when we have times when things go right.

We have seen all the things that can go wrong in life – and all the things that will confuse us – and leave us tired and stressed out – So God gives us seasons of good times – when all is well – to find the rest we need – and to be restored by His mercy and grace.

In 1st Peter 5:10 – it says – And after you have suffered for a little while – the God of all grace – who called you to His eternal glory in Christ – will himself restore – support – strengthen – and establish you.

When Peter wrote this verse – he was writing to 1st century Israelites – who had converted to Christianity – and as a result were being persecuted.

He tells them that a time when things will go right is coming – and during these times – God will – restore you – support you – strengthen you – and establish you.

So – how do we rest and become restored? When things are going right – you could start by praising God like we talked about in our first point. There is something powerful about worship that leaves us refreshed and renewed – like the smell after the rain has come and washed away all the pollution.

Another way we can rest and become restored is to rediscover God. You can do this by opening up your Bible – and reading and praying and spending some time with God.

When I think back to the good times in my life – I have always looked for people to share that time with – there is just something about human nature that wants to share the joy of good times. God loves to spend time with us – just like a best friend – and a great way to find rest and restoration is to share your good times with God.

Spending time with God is the key to finding rest and being restored. Anyone who has ever tried to restore an old piece of furniture – knows that things never restore themselves. The same is true for you and me – we need to spend time with God if we are going to be restored.

So – when things are going good – the first thing we should do is – Rejoice in the fact that God has given us a blessing – then we should Rest – and let God restore us – and finally we should –

Reach Out – to others who are going through hard times

1st John 3:16-17 says – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

When things go right – it’s a blessing from God – but there’s more to this blessing than just sitting and soaking up the good times. When God gives us times of things going right – we should use these as an opportunity to reach out to other people who may be going through some not so good times.

In that verse from 1st John – we see several key points to take note of. The first is that Jesus loved us enough to die for us – and He is asking us to do the same for others. Now – I’m not saying that we should all go out and find a little old lady crossing the street and jump in the path of on coming traffic so that we can say we lay down our lives for others.

What I am saying is that laying down our lives for others might be giving up some of our wants and desires – and putting others first. When we get to enjoy some good times in life – we should share these with others by reaching out our hand to help those who are not doing quite as well as we are.

Very practically – it could be stopping to pass some time with that person who always seems to be alone – or sending a thank you card to someone who might not have even known they helped you in some way.

Simple acts of kindness that require us to lay down our lives for others – and reach out and share some of our good fortune.

The other key point from the 1st John verse eludes to the fact that – if someone who has – see’s someone who has not – but doesn’t help them out – how can they say that they have the love of God in them.

Someone who has – that’s someone experiencing good times – and someone who has not – is someone experiencing tough times. If things are going good – help those who you can.

After David had rejoiced and danced for the blessing of good times – and after he found rest and restoration in God – he looked around and saw that the ark we had talked about before had no permanent home for other people to come and worship God. So – David wanted to help them out by building a beautiful temple that would be a worthy home for God and his people to come together. God had other plans – but David – when things were going well for him – wanted to be able to pass some of that goodness on – he reached out in his time of things going right.

When life is good – remember God – through rejoicing – resting – and reaching out – and don’t let the seemingly little icebergs tear a hole in your good times.

Amen.

Hymn: “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”

Video: Journey

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Be Thou My Vision”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Werde munter, mein Gemüte – Johann Walther “Be alert, my soul, and direct your thoughts to the good things that God has done for me.”

Sunday, July 4, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Speak, Lord, in the Stillness – Harold Green, arr. for piano/organ duet by Larry Shackley Played with Eddy Zheng

Opening Video: Amazing King

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Mark 6:1-13 New International Version (NIV)

6:1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Solo: Prayer for Peace – lyrics by Gertrude Tingley, music by Jean-Baptiste Lully Sung by Sheikh Ali

Message:

Are You Amazed?

He really is amazing – isn’t He? Whether you have just stumbled upon this virtual service – or if you’ve been a part of the Cooksville United family for years – my prayer is that you would be amazed by Jesus every time you hear His name.

The scribes and the skeptics were amazed at his teaching. The hungry and hurting were amazed by his miracles. An adulterer and her accusers were amazed by his love.

But have you ever wondered what amazes Jesus? What might astonish the most astonishing person who ever lived? What could boggle the infinite mind of the God-Man? What could leave the greatest teacher – speechless?

Well – in our reading for today – we heard one time when Jesus was amazed. Jesus had just completed a whirlwind tour across much of northern Israel.

He amazed his disciples by calming the wind and waves on Lake Galilee. He amazed the people by casting a legion of demons into a herd of swine. He amazed a sick woman who was healed the instant she touched his cloak. And His last stop was the home of Jairus – whose daughter had died earlier that day. But death wouldn’t stop Jesus – He took the little girl’s hand and whispered in her ear – Little girl – get up – and she did – she got up and walked – and the Bible says – They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.

Jesus was amazing everyone he encountered. But then we hear that – Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth – his hometown.

Maybe – He was tired from all His travels and just wanted to sit in His favourite spot by the family hearth. Maybe His mom had been nagging Him to come home and visit for a while. Whatever his reasons were – there’s always something special about going home – the comfort – the familiarity of it all.

But a lot’s changed since Jesus left Nazareth. He left alone and a carpenter – He returned a famous rabbi with a whole entourage of disciples. And – His reputation has preceded him because the local rabbi invites Jesus to speak.

So – Jesus now has the opportunity to preach in the church he grew up in. The Bible says – when He began teaching in the synagogue – many who heard him were amazed. They asked – Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?

Here Jesus was – back in his hometown – preaching to the same people who watched him play in the dirt as a child – who saw him struggle through puberty – who witnessed the grief in his eyes when his earthly father died – and they were amazed. Some of them were amazed at His words – His wisdom and the wonders He could perform. It was obvious that there was something special about this home-town hero.

Two thousand years later – and Jesus is no less amazing. The most amazing event in human history was the coming of Jesus into this world. The most amazing words ever spoken were His words. The most amazing deeds ever done were accomplished by His hands. The most amazing gift ever offered was His life on the cross.

More songs have been sung of Him – artwork created of Him – and books written about Him – than anyone who has ever lived. Jesus looms so large over human history that we actually measure time by him – we date our letters – our birth certificates – our checks – everything – from the year of his birth. Jesus stands alone in all of history—the single most amazing person who ever lived

Extraordinary – Astonishing – Amazing – Jesus is all that and more. But no matter how amazing something or someone is – there will always be critics and complainers.

There’s a story that Charles Swindoll tells in his book – Three Steps Forward – Two Steps Back – about a farmer wanted to impress his hunting buddies. So – he bought the smartest – most expensive hunting dog he could find.

He trained this dog to do things no other dog on earth could do – impossible feats that would surely amaze anyone. Then he invited his buddies to go duck hunting with him. After a long patient wait in the boat a group of ducks flew over and the hunters were able to make a few hits.

Several ducks fell in the water. Go get ’em! – shouted the proud owner. The dog leaped out of the boat – but it didn’t splash into the water – it calmly walked on the water – it went directly to each bird – somehow picked them all up – and proudly walked back to the boat.

Beaming with pride, the man turned to his fellow hunters and said – So what do you think? One of them looked at him with a wrinkled brow and said – Boy you sure got ripped off. You spent all that money on a dog that doesn’t even know how to swim!

Some of Jesus’s neighbors were just as unimpressed with Him. Our story says – Then they scoffed, ‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us. They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family’

Nazareth wasn’t known for much. It was a small – insignificant – town on the outskirts of a Roman garrison. Estimates put the population during Jesus’ day at around 80 – Nazareth wasn’t the brightest star in the ancient Near East.

There was even a saying – that was once repeated by Philip – Can anything good come from Nazareth? It seems like this opinion was repeated often enough that the people of Nazareth themselves became convinced the answer was no.

Jesus can’t be anything special – they thought – He’s one of us – He grew up right here – He’s no messiah – He’s just a carpenter.

Some of you may have heard of Leonard Bernstein – he was a brilliant composer – conductor – author – and pianist. Growing up – however – Leonard’s father had not given his son very much encouragement in his musical career. Later in life – a reporter asked his father why he had been so unwilling to encourage his son’s musical talents. The father replied – How was I to know he would grow up to become Leonard Bernstein?

Likewise – how could the people of Nazareth have known that this son of a carpenter would grow up to become Jesus of Nazareth? They thought they knew everything there was to know about this kid – and their familiarity bred contempt.

I wonder sometimes – if we aren’t a little too familiar with Jesus ourselves.

I know we didn’t grow up on the same street. We’ve never shared a meal with Mary and Joseph. You and I never hired Jesus to build a fence or repair our stable. But we’ve grown up with

And I wonder if our culture hasn’t become so saturated with Jesus that we’ve grown desensitized to him. We’ve all heard the story of Jesus. We’ve heard it in Sunday School – in sermons – in songs. We think we know everything there is to know about Jesus. Maybe to the point where none of it amazes us anymore.

We’ve grown up with Jesus as though He lived right here – in our hometown – among us. Unfortunately – like Jesus said – A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown. We are the hometown.

But you know – as much as we fail to be amazed by Jesus – Jesus is amazed by us. The next couple of verses in Mark tell us the rest of the story – And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief”

What amazes the most amazing person to walk the earth? I do – You do – We all do when we don’t believe. Jesus was amazed at their unbelief. He still is – I think.

We are living in an age of increasing unbelief. With each census and poll – we see the number of people who claim – no religious belief – to be rising – I’m amazed at how quickly unbelief has taken root in so many hearts. And if I’m amazed – imagine how amazed Jesus must be. But forget about the atheists and agnostics for a minute – what about you and me – what about people who do claim Christianity to be among their beliefs?

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see more miracles in your life? Let’s read that verse again – because of their unbelief – He couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

Because of their unbelief – Jesus didn’t do any miracles. Do you think He doesn’t do miracles in my life because of my unbelief? Do you think He doesn’t do any miracles in your life because of your unbelief?

That’s not to say that Jesus didn’t have the power to do miracles while he was in Nazareth. He did heal some sick people – but only a few.

Why? I think it’s because only a few believed that he would. If you’ve ever fallen to your knees to ask Jesus to perform a miracle in your life – did you really believe He would do it? Do you really believe in miracles enough to even ask Jesus in the first place?

Personally – I think that I’m a lot like the father who Jesus meets in Mark chapter 9.

Jesus had been on the mountain with Peter – James – and John – that’s when they witness his radiant glory – the event we call the transfiguration.

But when Jesus reaches the bottom of the hills – He hears arguing. A father came to his disciples asking them to heal his son – but they couldn’t do it. After explaining the situation to Jesus – the man pleads – Have mercy on us – and help us – if you can.

What do you mean – If I can? – Jesus asked. Anything is possible if a person believes. The father instantly cried out – I do believe – but help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:22-24)

That’s the first miracle that we need to ask Jesus for – that’s the first prayer that should always come from our lips in times of need – Lord Jesus – I believe – help me overcome my unbelief.

I think that’s the kind of prayer Jesus responds to. I think that’s the kind of prayer that brings about a miracle. It did for that desperate father. The Bible says Jesus restored his son’s hearing and speech – and then Jesus took the boy by the hand and helped him to his feet. He can do the same for each one of us – if we believe.

We have been talking about belief – and the lack of it for a few weeks now. We’ve seen how Jesus scolds His disciples because they don’t have enough faith. Jesus saves them from the storm on the Galilean Sea – but they could have saved themselves if they had believed they could.

Miracles happen – for the woman who was bleeding and for Jairus’s dead daughter – simply because they believe that Jesus can help them.

And today – we have heard that Jesus is amazed at people’s lack of faith. He was able to heal some people in His hometown – imagine what He would have been able to do if more people had believed.

We read the stories – and maybe we are amazed by the things Jesus did long ago – but imagine the miracles we could see today – by us – through Jesus – if we would only believe that the amazing is still possible.

Amen.

Hymn: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Video: These Three Remain

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “One More Step Along The World I Go”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Air from French Suite no. 4 – J.S. Bach

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