Praying With Jesus – Getting Started

Here at KCRC 2019 is a year of exploring what Spiritual Apprenticeship is all about. At the heart of it we want to ask the question – “What does it take to grow in effectiveness living life as Jesus would live if he were walking in our shoes today?

So…What’s it take to do that well? As we watch the life of Jesus, it’s pretty clear that prayer is a key part of what he does and how he does it. Meaning – perhaps prayer ought be a key part of what we do, and how we do it….. don’t you agree?

We’re going to spend the next while exploring what prayer is all about. And we’re going to keep Jesus, and his prayer role model, always in our sights.

This week we explored a couple of “DON’T-go-here-if-you-want-to-pray-effectively-and-deeply” statements by Jesus. Our key bible passage is Matthew 6:5-8.

Go ahead and find a bible, either print version or online or app. Flip to Matthew 6. Then download the podcast and join the conversation.

Please note – those of you using a mobile device may have to set your browser to “desktop mode” to access the download button (a glitch with our site – sorry about that).

Here’s the podcast……..

Praying With Jesus – Getting Started

And here’s the study guide…….
Getting Started – Study Guide

As always, feel free to pass this stuff around.  You can also find this, and other messages online at the KCRC website under the tab “Sermons And Stuff.”

We’d also love to have you join us live for worship.
We gather each Sunday at 10am.
Don’t worry about getting all gussied up.  Just come as you are – we’re a church full of imperfect people.
And we’d be glad to have other imperfect people, like you, along for the ride!

Meditation – What? Me? How?

Image result for christian meditationThis past Sunday we talked about the importance of prayer and meditation in our journey along the Steps To Wholeness.  Those of you familiar with 12 Step groups may recognize this as Step 11.
And during Q&A one of you asked for some tips and suggestions to get started in meditation.
Thank you so much for asking that!  Important question.  Glad you poked for that!!
So…. here goes –
May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD Psalm 104:34
 
Someone wrote that “Christian meditation can be described as a peaceful focus on God.”
It doesn’t have to be hard work.
Neither does it have to follow a set formula.
So don’t get all worried about not getting it right.  Instead, relax, and enjoy the journey and blessings that come with growing closer to your Lord & Saviour through prayer & meditation.
Let me suggest some things about
SETTING
PACE
TOOLS
TECHNIQUE
and then
A WARNING
 
 
SETTING
– A setting that you find peaceful might be totally distracting to me.  Where would be a peaceful place that you could use for regular prayer & meditation? A path in the woods? By your fireplace? At the kitchen table? Coffee shop? Go there.  
 
PACE
Don’t rush.  It’s hard to be intimate with your spouse while saying, “I’ve only got 5 minutes.”  Same here.
TOOLS
– Have a note pad & pen handy.
– Keep your bible open.
Pad & Pen?  You bet! Our spiritual enemy will not be delighted to see us spend time focused on our Lord and Saviour and will try to distract us in all sorts of ways (eg the item that MUST be added to the grocery list RIGHT NOW, the email we should write IMMEDIATELY, the chore that CAN’T wait, etc).  When such an “urgent” item shouts in your mind write it down, so you can deal with it later.  And, by the way, you might well discover that after your quiet time is over, they suddenly don’t seem so compelling any longer.
Bible?  I like to read a Psalm as the beginning of my quiet time; and include a piece from the life of Jesus (the Gospels).  It keeps my thoughts grounded in God’s truth – so critical!
Oh yes, and you might find yourself helped by a book of prayers by a writer that you connect with.
TECHNIQUE
The pattern to follow in meditation will also be very personal.  Perhaps you begin with closing your eyes, paying attention to your breathing to calm down after getting the kids to school, and repeat a simple prayer, or maybe even the name of Jesus – welcoming him.  I suspect most of us will need some way to enter our Quiet Time, putting the rush of daily routine to the side.
There are many patterns to follow – let me suggest one that has been personally helpful.  It involves four steps, based on a daily scripture reading – whatever passage you choose to use – read; meditate; pray; contemplate.
READ – read the passage.  Don’t rush. Don’t skip pieces because you already know the story.  Take your time to let it speak to you – every word of it.
MEDITATE – think about what you just read.  What jumps out at you today? Is there something you didn’t notice before? Wonder – what message are you getting from God’s Word right here, right now?
PRAY – speak to God about what you’ve learned or heard or noticed.
CONTEMPLATE – stop talking, and just BE with the passage and its truth. Be aware that the Spirit of Jesus is right there with you.  This, now, is a bit of time not about content, not about new – just about BEING with your Lord and Saviour.
And then, after that time of four-part reading, a time of prayer.
Based on ACTS – Adoration (praise God), Confession (oops, God I am sorry), Thanksgiving (yes, God, you HAVE heard and answered!), Supplication (i.e. making requests).
 
Finally,
A WARNING…
True Christian meditation is NOT, as some other spiritual traditions might suggest, the emptying of my mind or the goal of losing my identity in order to be united with some cosmic force.
Instead it is me, heart & soul & mind & strength – all of me, inside and out, being open to the Living Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Welcoming the Trinity into my mind, my will, my emotions, my experiences – everything.
To only focus on emptying leaves one, well, empty.  In Luke 11:26 Jesus warns against being spiritually empty inside.  You simply don’t know what sort of “spiritual squatter” will take up residence inside!!
Does that help?
As always, if you want to dig further, feel free to drop me a note.
– Pastor Ken

Steps To Wholeness: Improving The Contact

Image result for ear trumpet“Eh?  What was that?”
Yes, I find myself saying that more often these.  Perhaps too often, suggests my wife in her lovely and gentle way.  Hmmmm.
I wonder if God finds me as hard of hearing as she does?

Welcome to the podcast for the second to last in KCRC’s Fall teaching series, Steps To Wholeness.  We’re wondering about how to ditch some of the rusty and banged up parts of our lives, in order to become people that more clearly resemble our Elder Brother and Saviour, Jesus.

This particular teaching segment wonders about staying connected to him – what and how?  Any simple parts to it?  And, yes there are, declares Step 11 of 12.
Join us as we learn what that step is, and why it matters.  We learned from Psalm 119:9-16 & 145-152.

Download the study guide, and grab a bible.
Then follow along with the message via the online audio player – or download it to your favorite device to catch again later.
Please note – those of you using a mobile device may have to set your browser to “desktop mode” to access the download button (a glitch with our site – sorry about that).

We’d love to have you join with us for the last of the series, this coming Sunday.  Perhaps here from the podcasts.  Or live as we worship each Sunday at 10am.  Don’t worry about getting all gussied up.  Just come as you are – we’re a church full of imperfect people.  And would be glad to have other imperfect people along for the ride, joining us for the journey of following the Steps To Wholeness!

Steps To Wholeness: Improving The Contact

You are also invited to download the study guide…..

Improving The Contact – Study Guide

As always, feel free to pass this stuff around.

 

 

Imperfect Faith In A Messy World: Working It Out

So, we’ve come to the end of KCRC’s fall sermon series, “Imperfect Faith In A Messy World.”
Guess it means that winter is just around the corner.
True – but even more important ADVENT is almost here – the season when we begin to try and wrap our hearts and minds around the idea that God actually cares enough about this earth, and the messy lives we live on it, to want to come and enter it as a human being.
Mind blowing!!
But, that’s getting ahead of myself.  Check back in two weeks and we’ll be there.
Not yet, though.
FIrst we’ve got to park this messy, imperfect sermon series.

Things come to a close in the last chapter of Ephesians – ch.6.
We learn there that in our messy world there are some very real dangers.
There are some real, dark, evil forces that want to take us down, and take us out.

Chapter 6 coaches us on how to respond.
As well as what do when we respond imperfectly, or mess up our response entirely.
(Yes, that happens – all the time.)

You’re invited to track with us as we put the wraps on the study of the Bible book called “Ephesians.”
Download the message and study guide, grab a bible, and follow along…

Listen:


Study guide

Imperfect Faith In A Messy World (3): It’s Beyond Me (A sermon podcast)

“God is great. God is good.  Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”
Many of us may have learned that prayer as a child.
And it’s easy to do – easy to offer thanks and praise to God when things are going well in our lives.
Like, when we’ve got lots of yummy things to eat.  And a warm bed to sleep in.  And we’re healthy.

BUT – don’t you find it harder to give praise and thanks when life is full of pot holes?
Indeed, I’ve met lots of people who way preferred to slam the door in God’s face, instead.
A harsh option, but part of me really gets why someone would want to do that.
Probably because I’ve been tempted to do it, too.

So, here’s a sermon podcast that wonders about that dilemma, and offers a suggested alternative.

 

Imperfect Faith In A Messy World (3): It’s Beyond Me

You are also invited to download the study guide…..

It’s Beyond Me – Study Guide

As always, feel free to pass this stuff around.

When Can I Quit? A KCRC Sermon Podcast

Remember what we’d all do as kids when going on a trip?
“How much longer?”
“Are we there yet?”
“When can we stop – I gotta pee!”

So it happened – the SAME kind of question got asked about the spiritual experiment we’ve been conducting here at Kemptville Christian Reformed Church for the last number of weeks……
“How much longer?”
“Are we done yet?”
“Can I quit now?”

Answer – You can quit any time you like.  Nobody is going to give you a ticket for quitting.
BUT – is that what you really want to do?

Here’s the sermon podcast from this past Sunday where we tossed around those questions, and some responses.
It also marks the formal end of the 60:60 Experiment.  And maybe the beginning of a new spiritual habit for some of us…….

You’re invited to listen in as we “land the plane” for this series…..

Right-click on the title, and choose “save link as”  to download the podcast to your mp3 player or ipod.

When Can I Quit?

Or use the built-in web audio player below:

 

You are also invited to download the study guide…..

When Can I Quit – Study Guide

As always, feel free to pass this stuff around.

Can We Hear Him?

Peter’s example should stand as a cautionary tale to all those who have not addressed the issues of race and ethnicity nearly as much as Peter, nor received a fraction of the revelation that he did, to humble themselves and pray as David did in Psalm 19:12: “Who can discern his lapses and errors? Clear me from hidden [and unconscious] faults (Amplified).”.

Easter Triduum – Three Holy Days Not To Rush

This weekend marks the pinnacle of the Christian Year. Since Apostolic times Christians have given special emphasis to commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus as the heart of God’s plan of Salvation for humanity.

And by the second century, historical records show churches celebrating the Great Easter Vigil – a mega-worship event that began on Saturday evening and continued until Easter dawn. Through this service believers would read Bible passages that trace the whole account of Salvation history from Eden through the promise of Jesus’ return. Often new converts were baptized during this service, and then welcomed into the Family of Believers and the celebration of their first communion.

In time the Triduum developed. The word means “three days” – and marks the three day period from Thursday evening when Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Last Supper through Easter Sunday evening when the Risen Lord appeared to his disciples in the Upper Room.

At KCRC we don’t hold services on Holy Thursday evening. Instead, we commemorated the institution of the Lord’s Supper through our Seder service last Sunday morning. We WILL however, worship together on Good Friday and on Easter (see details elsewhere in PKN).

I encourage you to observe your own form of a Triduum in some way that is meaningful to you.
Celebrate it – carefully, intentionally, and without rushing.

HOLY THURSDAY
Perhaps in your evening or dinner devotions today consider reading the account of the Last Supper, as recorded in Matthew 26:17-35. And so launch your three-day period of remembering.

GOOD FRIDAY
Then take time to worship tomorrow. Honour it as a holy day – not just a stat holiday for getting stuff done around the house. Focus in your personal & family Bible readings on the account of Jesus suffering & death. Find some way to remind yourself of it throughout the course of the day.

WAITING SATURDAY
And then comes Saturday. This is the day that most of us miss. We forget about what happened on Saturday. Think about it – if you were one of the first disciples, what would YOU have been doing that Saturday? It was an anxious, dark, LOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG day for them – hiding behind locked doors, trying to come to terms with their shock & grief, certain that everything they had hoped for was now gone. Angry at God, perhaps. After all, HOW could He, if Sovereign, allow this to happen?

Can you take a few minutes on Saturday to quietly reflect and wonder?

And – here’s a good day to pray for those you know whose lives are constantly lived in Saturday-mode…… because of relentless suffering, or shattered dreams, or broken pieces of their lives that don’t seem to find any healing; pray for those who are, perhaps, angry at God. Or wondering where he is. Or why this & that was allowed to happen.

Don’t rush through Saturday.
Give it some holy space.

EASTER SUNDAY
Finally, there’s Sunday.
Ah, Easter Sunday! Day of GREAT celebration!!
This is THE moment when everything changed.
Please consider reading 1 Corinthians 15…. yes, the whole chapter. Especially the last verse.
And be sure – do WHATEVER you have to do to get to worship. Either here at KCRC, or with another community that honors Jesus. This is bigger than Christmas, friends – WAY bigger. Don’t miss it because of some brunch appointment.  Oh, yes, and keep praying for the Lord to grant you an opportunity to invite someone along to worship with you.

So…. there it is:
The Great Triduum – the three holiest days for all friends & followers of Jesus.

Please, friends –
Don’t blow past ’em.
Don’t rush through them.
Take your time.

Worship.
Pray.
Remember.

And believe with all your heart that….
Christ has died!
Christ is risen!
Christ will come again!

Stories Jesus Told – A Persistent Widow

You can’t fight city hall.  We all know that.
How about heaven?
Can you argue with God?
Can you get him, ever, to change his mind…..

“So, there was this cranky judge,” said Jesus.  “And this incredibly persistent widow….. and that is NOT how things are between your Father in Heaven and you.”

Yesterday, Sunday October 4, we at KCRC went back to listening to stories that Jesus told, this one from Luke 18:1-8, describing a corrupt judge who met his match in one very stubborn and persistent widow.  Through that we came to understand something about God’s character, as well as how we deal with our  Heavenly Father in prayer.

You’re invited to listen in and join the conversation –

Right-click on the sermon title, and choose “save link as”  to download the podcast to your mp3 player or ipod.

Stories Jesus Told: A Persistent Widow

Or use the built-in web audio player below:

 

You’re also invited to download the pdf of the study guide:

Stories Jesus Told: A Persistent Widow (study guide)

Prayer For A New Church Season

Vacation is good – time to take a break from routine.
And time to rest.
Perhaps even do nothing.
Like a bit of extended Sabbath – that often-underused gift of God to Creation and to us, a divinely-mandated time to pray and to play.
Sabbath (and vacation) recharge the sometimes depleted batteries of our lives.
And equip us to get up and get going again.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful gift!
But – now that I’m back from vacation, unlocked the church office door, and booted up the laptop……..
What if I got up and got going in a direction that is fruitless?
What if I got going in a direction that God really isn’t interested in me pursuing?
Frittering my life away on meaningless projects?
Do you ever wonder or worry about that?
I know I do.
Sound strange?  That a pastor should worry about that?
I mean – here I am in a calling to serve God full-time.
I get to write “Rev Dr” in front of my name – that is , someone highly specialized in holy things.
Ooooohhhhh!
Can you believe that even a “Rev Dr” can fritter away his time going in useless directions?
Yup, it’s true.
I could spend countless hours in studying details of Scripture which I’ve never investigated before.
I could become all wound around the axle of church management – keeping the wheels of the various groups and programs running without a squeak or a wobble; on the same road they’ve always been on.
I could commit to reading two new books every month.
I could commit to serving on this board or that.
I could…. well, I could be doing all sorts of things.
And you could probably make a strong case that each one of these things is a good, proper, valued piece of the life of a church pastor.
And maybe they are.
Maybe in the right measure and to a certain correct degree, yes they are.
But what’s at the heart of my life, my service, my calling?
Here’s not the time or place to lay out a detailed description of what that is.
But let me say this much –
If I’m coming back off vacation and end up winding my life up back to  top gear, and spending all sorts of energy (maybe even the majority of it) in areas that are not at the centre of the Holy Spirit’s “radar screen” then it’s time for me to pack up and go to work at Walmart as a greeter (or something else, but NOT as a pastor).
Perhaps I’m writing this as a head-slapping reminder to myself to pay prayer-filled, scripture-focused attention to what the Holy Spirit is calling me to do and be here in North Grenville and at KCRC.

What parts of His great sovereign work does he want me to be focusing on?
And what parts does he want me to leave for another time, or perhaps for another servant of Jesus?

That’s something that calls for careful reflection and conversation with trusted, mature believers (three cheers for my accountability group, and for the men & women of KCRC’s council).

And perhaps it’s also a reminder to us as the Kemptville CRC community.
As we, together, emerge from “summer mode” and prepare to head into September, what will we be spending the bulk of  our time and energy doing?

It may well all carry nice, holy-sounding tags and titles.
But will we be working most diligently at that which is at the centre of the Holy Spirit’s “radar screen” for North Grenville?
Will we take the time to wonder what that might be – for right now, Fall of 2015 and for us right here?

What does our Sovereign Lord want us to focus on?
And what part of his Kingdom Work does he want us to leave for another time, or perhaps for another congregation of Christ-followers here in NG?
I’m not calling for a major revisioning project – or a massive rewrite of the church’s mission statement.
Honestly – I’m not a huge fan of those things.
What I am encouraging is that each of us, and we collectively, pause before rushing forward like a herd of muskoxen into Fall busyness…..
            …..pause, and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide and focus what we do.
That our passions would line up with God’s.
And our efforts be in sync with his.
‘Cause otherwise, for our congregation and others, if we don’t this – regularly – might as well not only send me off to permanent vacation, but might as well do the same for the whole congregation.  Lock the doors… for good.  Which, I for one, DON’T WANT TO SEE HAPPEN!!!
Dear Lord Jesus, I believe you pour out your Holy Spirit to guide believers into all life and truth (John 16:12-14).  I believe you did that in the first days of the Church, and continue to do that today. 
 
Therefore, I ask that as you guided and prodded the early Church
 – pushing them in certain directions, and blocking them from going in others –
 please so guide and prod me in this new season of ministry.  
 
And not just me, Lord.
Please do that for all my dear brothers and sisters at KCRC.
Do that for us individually and collectively.
Do that so that we may be in tune with your heart for this church and for North Grenville.
Do that so that we may be truly effective servants in your Kingdom.
 
Do that through our conversations together.
Do that as we read your word.
Do that as you whisper into our minds, our consciences, our dreams, our hearts.
Do that as you guide our circumstances.
Do that in divinely-guided “ordinary” events of life, and in the breath-taking miraculous.
However you will, please take me/us, guide me/us, and use me/us so that glory and honor woud come back to you this coming season as we now come out of vacation.
 
“Yes – use me Lord, use even me.
Just as you will, and when, and where.
Until your blessed face I see.
Your rest, your joy, your glory share.”  (Psalter Hymnal #528)
 
Amen.