MENU

Posts Tagged ‘ian lawson’

Church at 6 Q&A – Oct 23-29, 2016

Posted on: October 30th, 2016 by E-Free Lethbridge

Why did you choose to say God had a dream as opposed to he had a plan?
(“God had a dream” wondering if there is a reason “dream” was used as opposed to a word like “plan”. Not super important just curious)

Ian used dream as a figure of speech. He could have said God had a plan for Joseph. But because Joseph had a dream of God’s plan, Ian choose to say, God had a dream for Joseph.

Using the word ‘dream’ may make us believe that God’s intended plan for us can differ based upon our action and response. Dreams are ideals, plans are concrete. This may just be semantics. God gave Joseph a dream of who Joseph would become. God’s dream for Joseph was also God’s plan. The story of Joseph reveals the very complex coming together of God’s sovereignty and human free will.

Much like in the New Testament. Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon to Peter. Peter means Rock. This indicates that Jesus’ dream and plan for Peter was that he’d become the Rock on which Jesus would build His church (John 1: 42)

The PAIN that we all have to go through, is this always the beginning of a new journey?!

Pain is definitely a journey. One that is experienced by all. It appears from Scripture that many of God’s leaders/servants were tried and tested before God unfolded His plan for them. Therefore, trial and God’s perceived silence can be an indication of a beginning of a new chapter or journey.

For example,
Joseph suffered in silence for 10+ years before he became prime minister in Egypt and was used to saved the people and his family (God’s people).
Moses: Exodus 2: 23 – “after that long period” God was silent in Israel’s life and Moses’ life before calling Moses to return to Egypt.
Interestingly Paul: Galatians 1: 18, Paul went away for three years before entering ministry. It appears though that this was not a time of silence from God about revelation. This is where Paul was trained. In the dessert, him and God. Unlike any other disciple, no one suffered more, endured more, or experienced more pain than Paul. From Paul’s life, pain doesn’t indicate a new chapter or beginning of a new journey. It was a reality he faced on every journey.

We live in a broken world. Pain is part of our reality. Does it indicate a start of a new journey. Perhaps sometimes, but not always.

Is God silent in your life because of unconfessed sin, or because of testing?

James 1:2, Consider pure joy, my brothers and sisters when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
– So there is evidence from scripture that God uses trials to test and develop us.

We have to be careful when we try to explain God’s silence. You can be obedient to God and still experience His perceived silence. Job 2: 10, shall we experience good from God and not evil (Job was a righteous man and experienced silence) was Job being tested. Maybe? Was it because of unconfessed sin, No (his friends were rebuked for saying that).

Legalism is not of God. Grace is of God. Grace is an undeserved gift. Therefore, I’ll never earn my salvation and therefore I’ll never have a speed dial phone call to God based on how ‘good I am’. ‘So silence as punishment’ vs. ‘do good, and get access to God and blessing’ God doesn’t seem to work that way.

However, Sin has consequences. So if you do decide to rebel against your creator, you will miss out. If you are obedient to God, and you learn his ways, you will perhaps become more attuned to God (because He is never absent). But silence and suffering is the human condition. Regardless of how good or bad you are, you will experience silence and suffering. This is the broken world.

Two part question.
Does God orchestrate or cause suffering in order to teach or show us grace? Or is it because of Gods grace, that he uses suffering (caused by God or not) to teach us and show us grace?

Based on Genesis 3 (the fall of man), one can assert that,
1. God is not responsible for evil or sin.
2. Bad things happen because of human free will.
3. Because bad things happened God created Israel and eventually sent Jesus into the world to make the world right again. The whole story of Bible is an act of grace as Ian stated.
Based on Genesis 50: 20, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
4. Therefore God orchestrated good out of suffering.

So based on Joseph God uses suffering to show us and teach us grace. I think your second question says it right, because of God’s character and grace that He can use suffering to teach and show us His grace.

Does God cause or allow suffering?

It seems to be that the better word choice based on the book of Job would be that God allows suffering. God didn’t stop the devil from making Job suffer. Some say, therefore God caused Job’s suffering because he could have stopped it. And clearly God could have stopped the devil but didn’t (perhaps because he knew that Job had strong character and would prove to the devil that He followed God regardless of material possession and health). Thus, Job is a great example of a man who did not let his challenges dictate his faith. This shows us that God clearly allowed and used suffering for His glory.

But what about Israel’s case. I am turning you over to your ways.

There are no accidents or coincidences in the life of a Christian so then no luck either?

I guess not. Though it certainly seems like we get lucky sometimes. But can there be luck or coincidence if God is all knowing? Through Joseph’s lens, he certainly seems to have gotten lucky that the Ishmaelites happened to walk by. If not, his brothers may have killed him. However, hindsight being 20/20, God’s hand was present. If the Ishmaelites didn’t come by at that moment, Joseph wouldn’t have been in Egypt.

God is not bound by time. Therefore he knows past, present and future. Which means, we have free will and possibly luck or coincidence and yet God still knows all and has control over all.

If sin is not outside of our control, and we have the power of the Holy spirit living inside of us, then in theory, could a person be sin free? Just a thought

James 2: 7 – Resist the devil and he will flee you. This verse affirms along with several other verses that we can resist and conquer sin.

However,

Romans 7: 19 – 20: For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
This seems to indicate that we don’t have power over sin.

So there is tension in the scriptures. We can control sin but at the same time we can’t. Based on Scripture I’d be led to believe one will never achieve perfection on this side of eternity. I also believe, given intention and because of the power of the Holy Spirit we can conquer sin.

Perhaps, though we may conquer lust. That doesn’t mean we’ve conquered greed. There will always be sin in our lives, but through the power of the Spirit we can conquer it. We conquer one area, than another area becomes visible.

Whose was the sin? the brothers who threw him in the cistern or Joesph who was so arrogant?

One could say Joseph got what was coming to him. His arrogance and hot dogging of his coat and dream reveals this. Jacob favouritism of Joseph also contributed to the brokenness of the family. And of course, the brother’s sin of throwing Joseph into the cistern. They all sinned and were guilty of it and thus there is brokenness.

Does the broken world that we live affect our reactions as Christians? I mean has the world we live limited our duties as Christian? If yes, what can we do?

I’m not sure exactly what this question is asking. I’m assuming you mean, the broken world has limited our ability to help because it is outside of our control. I can certainly identify with that. It would definitely be nice to know the plan and the why? But if God has a plan, as difficult as it is to see or as frustrating as it is. Trust and prayer is our response and we are called to help others where we can. But because of brokenness we are sometimes limited. The story of the prodigal son comes to mind. The son left and there was no stopping him but that isn’t the end of the story. This should give us both a sense of remorse (blessed are those who mourn) and a sense of hope (Lost sons/Lost Sheep are not forgotten by God and there is always hope).

So the lesson is that Gods love is compatible with bad things. But what if those “bad things” are too much and push you too far from God. Then it’s just too bad you didn’t have enough faith? What if it pushes other people away who never come back to God? Are we just supposed to believe that in the grand scheme of things the good will outweigh the bad? Those lost people were just part of the plan? A little collateral damage?

We discussed this question in detail at church at 6. It is true, often suffering leads you closer or farther away from God. For those whose suffering has caused them to abandon God. We don’t know their eternal destination. We know that God is Just and God is Good. So God will do what is Right. From the story of Joseph, one could say Joseph was collateral damage because of the brokenness and unfortunate circumstances. In the end, God did what was right. In the end, God will do what is right. As Christians, we don’t believe the good will outweigh the bad. We believe life is a gift of grace through Jesus Christ. In Him we find the God’s plan and it always involved lost people.

If God is Just and God is Good, He will do what’s right.

Church @ 6 Q&A – October 16-22

Posted on: October 26th, 2016 by E-Free Lethbridge

How much time passed between the Testaments?
400 years. Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are thought to be the last books written before the New Testament. During this period, no biblical prophet spoke or wrote. This period is called, ‘the period of silence’.

Is God silent in your life because of unconfessed sin, or because of testing? (Discussed at church @ 6.)
Ian mentioned that sin has been dealt with in Jesus Christ. Job 1: 21 says, the Lord gives and takes away. Therefore, God’s silence is not a result of your sin.

Of course, sin does hinder our growth. As Peter says (1 Peter 2:1 – 3), rid yourselves of all ‘sin” , crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.

Is there consequence for sin? Yes. Sin was the reason Jesus hung on a cross. Sin was the reason Israel was exiled. Does that mean God is absent or not involved? No

Does God use silence to test us? Yes. The book of Job is a great example of this. Joseph is another example. He was tested and tried through God’s silence. But God was not absent.

The main point is, we can’t always know why God is silent… But the human experience and the Bible show us that He is perceived to be silent often (almost every book wrestles with this reality). We must remember God is never absent. From scripture, His silence is used for testing, for character development, as a result of sin, and probably many more reasons that we don’t know.

How can we help friends who are going through dark times?
Sometimes, we like to explain their suffering. Sometimes, this isn’t helpful. We see from Job’s friends in the book of Job that they weren’t helpful telling Job why all these bad things were happening to him. They said it is because of sin or unrepentance. But God actually rebukes Job’s friends (Job 42: 7), “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken right”. So telling friends why they are suffering may not be wise at some points. Though, in other times, a word of Truth can be helpful but you must use discernment.

Practically, how can we help during dark times?

It does depend greatly on what the dark time is but often times, here are some tips:
Presence – being available to them (discerning how much presence is tough, some people like to be left alone, some like more time )

Listening – unlike Job’s friends, we ought to listen to our friends lament and wrestle with God.

Food – If a loved one dies, food is a practical need people have; a very practical gift to let people know you are thinking of them and eases the day to day demands on their schedule if they don’t have to cook for themselves.

What if the person is struggling with consequences of sin?

Reality is, some people like living in their own garbage. They can abuse and take advantage of your grace and kindness because they don’t want to deal with their issues.

For example, someone may be going through a dark time in their marriage… You then discover they are addicted to porn. This is a time for challenge not silence because their situation is directly related to their action and is in their control; unlike other situations that are outside of one’s control. Sin is dangerous and only leads to death and destruction. When people choose to follow the path of destruction, we often feel hopeless to help. As difficult as it is watch, one ought to continue to pray and be available (within reason) and remember, Romans 8 where Paul says, nothing can separate us from God’s love. Like the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15) are posture becomes one of ‘open arms’ praying, waiting, hoping the son returns. However, it does appear one has to let them go. That is difficult to do.

Thinking Out Loud . . . about the church

Posted on: May 16th, 2016 by E-Free Lethbridge

May 16, 2016 – Pastor Ian Lawson, lead pastor

I’m amazed by the diversity of the church. There is no gathering of people with greater variety than the local church. She is made up of young and old; singles and families; poor and wealthy; highly educated and those who’ve not finished high school; employers and employees; students and professors; retirees and working; women and men; divorced and happily married (or unhappily married); babies and grandparents; socially awkward and popular. In our church, on any Sunday, we have a multitude of ethnicities, beyond the Mennonites and Dutch! It’s a remarkable gathering of unusual diversity.

Beyond demographics, there is more. Among us, there are various political ideologies: Liberals and NDPs and Conservatives. There is theological diversity on many topics: from hermeneutics, to women in leadership, to views on creation. Some are new followers of Christ, just beginning their faith journey, and others have walked with Christ for many years. Some came to Christ as adults and others as children. Some are mature in faith and others are weak.  There is no gathering that rivals the local church in its diverse perspectives and maturity.

What is it that brings such a gathering together? Diversity like that usually divides. But, we gather with a single purpose. We share in the worship of the King. It’s the object of our worship that unites us, as we give our attention and affections to the risen Christ. We gather together as a divergent people who follow our Savior, King Jesus.

The existence of the local church in all her complexities is nothing short of a miracle. Where else would such an eclectic gathering be found? The existence of the church stands as a testimony to something unusual, even miraculous. I continue to be amazed how the church of Jesus Christ is found in every culture of the world. Other world religions have dominance in a geographical region: Hinduism in India; Islam in Middle East; Buddhism in Far East. Not so with Christianity. We have roughly equal distribution in every continent. There are Christians in every country of the world, whether underground as in Saudi Arabia or very visible as in Korea. These realities about the church are a living apologetic for the Christian faith.

With this amazing diversity, God has chosen to use the church as His instrument for working in the world today. The Church is at the heart of Jesus’ mission: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). I love the local church. I love our church. In spite of her imperfections and shortcomings, God has chosen to make the church his instrument of blessing in the world. We can have disagreements on matters of hermeneutics and theology, while sharing together the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There are things about the local church that I don’t like. However, I find myself increasingly in love with the Church. Why? Very simply because Jesus is in love with the Church – “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). He even calls the church “his bride”. If Jesus loved the Church that much then we should too!

That’s what I’m thinking about,

Pastor Ian