Final Sermon as Family Pastor at Bergen Church

Did you know that today is Christ the King Sunday? It is the last Sunday in Ordinary Time before Advent on the Christian Calendar. It was instituted in 1925 because of the increasing denial of Christ as king and the rise of secularism throughout much of Europe. At the time, many Christians began to doubt Christ’s authority and existence, as well as the Church’s power to continue Christ’s authority.

Although it was instituted by the Catholic Church, it is worth pondering as we prepare for the Advent season. Do we still hold up Jesus Christ as our King? Or have we succummed to the popular belief that we are autonomous beings, able to choose our own fate and eternal destiny?

There is a prayer that accomanies this Sunday, and I’d like to say it now before I continue. King of kings and glorious Lord, you are above all. You rule, and the whole universe is your kingdom. Have the supremacy in all things and draw more and more to the freedom of your reign. Be first in my life, now and always. Amen.

This is a continuation of last weeks message. I’ll do a brief recap and then I want to read from 1 Corinthians chapter 1.
The majority of last week’s message was the letter I wrote to you as a congregation, announcing my resignation. There are copies of it still available at the back.

I said last week that the strength of the church must not depend on the human leaders. The gospel of Jesus Christ in the hearts and minds of each person is the strength of the church. I want to emphisize this today and add to it. My goal is for you to know, without a doubt, what I believe is most critical to living a life of faith and holiness.

Follow along in your Bible as I read from 1 Cor. 1:10-31.

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”

Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” (1 Co 1:10–31)

I am preaching from this passage, with a particular message in mind, because this has been the core of all my preaching and how I tried to live as a pastor. It is how I desire to live my entire life.

This is a message about our identity as people of the cross. What does that mean? How does it change us? These are questions I will seek to answer.

I love a good question. I will have some more in a bit. A good question can open our minds up to thinking in ways we may not have previously thought. Maybe you will have some questions after this message. I would love to hear them and talk about them with you.

In this passage, Paul is concerned about the health of the Corinthian church. He was concerned that they keep to the core of what will keep them healthy and strong as a congregation.

He mentioned unity. There will always be differences in how people relate to the gospel and how it affects them. But the local church must be unified in order to demonstrate the power of the Spirit of God. This means moving forward together, not because everyone does everything the same way or with the same passion. But because the vision and the purpose of the people is the same.

Paul also mentioned that the word of the cross is power and wisdom. This means that we do not compromise the importance and centrality of the cross just because it seems irrelevant to today’s audience. We do not create relevant strategies to attract people to church and at the same time ignore the offensive nature of our saviour being crucified.

Christ crucified is our mantra, our banner, our calling card. When people come to church, they come to a people who have been bought through the gruesome death of God’s Son. We wave that banner with pride, boasting in it as our only hope!
That leads me to the final point in this passage, which I will spend the rest of the message on. Paul said in verse 31, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

What is it that you boast about? What makes you proud? How do you value life, or from what do you get your value? What sort of things give you satisfaction, or make you excited in life?

I don’t want to tell you that you need to somehow sadistically reject all things in life that are enjoyable, yet unspiritual. I want you to be able to stand up in times of trouble, uncertainty, persecution, and be completely confident in who you are and what is important in life.

There is one thing that will remain. Some of you are further on in life and know this better than any of us. When death comes knocking at your door, there is only one thing that will give you confidence to answer that door. Jesus Christ crucified means that you are happy to answer that door.

This changes everything! It means we can quit trying to make something of ourselves. Whatever ambitions we have in life are held up to the light of Jesus Christ crucified. And we are forced to ask, of what value is this? It doesn’t mean we throw it away. It means that if it is taken from us, we are not devastated!

Hold up your life to the cross of Jesus Christ, and ask yourself, what could you possibly have that compares to the value of that cross?

As a congregation, hold up this church, the building, the programs, the budget. Hold it up to the cross, and ask, of what value is it unless it produces in you a deeper love and appreciation for Jesus Christ crucified.

Beware of boasting in what is only here to be but a vessel of God’s grace through the cross. The vessel is not our boast. Jesus Christ is our boast. It is good and fun and worth our efforts to do the best we can when we gather to worship God.

But all this could be taken away, and God would still be pleased with us, because we are recipients of his grace, not by our methods of worship, but by the work of Jesus Christ in giving us purification of sins and adoption into his family.

When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, he told them to observe the Sabbath. He did this not so that they would become his nation, but because they were his nation.

I am challenging you today, treasure the cross of Jesus Christ not because that is the way to become God’s children. Do it because you are God’s children, and it is Christ crucified that made you his children.

All throughout the history of God’s people, there have been prophets who have commanded them: never forget! And I am here, urging you, never forget the cross!

When you lie down at night, thank God for the cross. When you wake up, remember the cross. When you eat, remind one another about the cross. When you work, when you play, when you rest and when you gather together, remember the cross!

Immerse yourself in this profound concentration of what it means to be a Christian: Christ Crucified! Ponder it, study it, discuss it, pray and ask God to give you a greater vision for what it means. You will not reach the end of knowing and experiencing the depths of Christ Crucified.

And as you enter further, deeper, more saturated in the experience of Christ crucified, you will find no reason to boast except in knowing Christ crucified.

I say all this knowing that some of you will find this unattractive. Jesus said it himself that people will be offended by this message. But if this is my last time preaching here, I can do nothing except present to you the very essence of the Christian faith.

If this is offensive to you, I pray God’s Spirit would soften your heart. Do not allow the wisdom of this world to cloud your judgement. Trust in the truth of Scripture and allow your world to be turned upside down.

It will result in radical generosity and extravagant risk-taking. It will cause you to give your heart away to those in need, knowing that they may never be able to return the love and care you have given. It will mean deep sorrow but also incomparable joy.

If you have chosen to follow Jesus and trust in Him, this is the life you are called to live. I will close with this passage from 2 Corinthians 4. I encourage you to memorize it, as it will be a constant reminder of who we are and what is most important in life:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Closing prayer:

Show us your beauty. Reveal to us the eternal weight of glory that is beyond all comparison. May we develop an appetite for that which is eternal: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. All things will pass away, but these things will remain. Keep Bergen Church unified in their love for your Son, and in their love for one another, and in their love for their neighbours. Keep them strong by your Spirit, make them steadfast under trial and temptation. Empower them to teach the little children your ways, telling one another stories of your goodness and faithfulness through the generations. Bless them, Father, with all your spiritual blessings through Jesus. Amen.

Benediction:

You may have learned that I do not allow a Sunday to pass when I am preaching without saying a prayer of benediction, a prayer of blessing, at the end. This is not a practice reserved just for the end of a worship service. Take this blessing into your homes and workplaces.

This blessing we are about to read was given to God through Moses, to Aaron and his sons, the priests of Israel. It is found in Numbers 6:24–26. We, as fellow heirs with Christ Jesus, have become priests, and so we bless one another with this priestly blessing.

May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.

It was a very tough decision

We had to make a decision. It was incomprehensible and completely illogical. I have such a great job, in a sort of place we have always dreamed to live, living among people anyone would be blessed to know. It seems like we just got here. But now we must leave.

In January 2010, we made a decision that changed our lives. We decided that I would go back to school. Thus began our journey to Alberta. Since then, we have experienced life like never before. I have been a college student, staff and faculty, a student leader, and an intern in the President’s office. I’ve travelled around the world, become a pastor, a library trustee, a Big Brother, a coach, a teammate, and a companion to hundreds of people along the way. For the last nearly eight years, it has been the people that have brought real value to the experiences.

I had a conversation with someone the other day about the challenge that comes with investing 100% in where we live. We enter a community, and we decide to fully live there. We completely give ourselves to making it a better place. Both we, and the community, are never the same because of that decision. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We expected to be here a while. If we had known our time would have been so short, we would have made different decisions. I’m glad we didn’t. We bought a house, and made it our home. We invested in our community with our whole heart, sincerely hoping we could somehow make a lasting impression so that Bergen would have been better because of our presence here. I hope we have done that.

It was a very long and difficult process, this last several months. We contemplated what we feared most: leaving. Could it possibly be that our time here is already done? We denied it. But there was no way of escaping the truth. When I silenced God’s still, small voice, He allowed me to suffer so that I would be brought to my knees before Him. Sickness, sorrow, hopelessness. They came like an army at the walls of my heart and broke them down. I did not know at the time what was happening, but now I see it.

God knows that I want to follow His lead, but He also knows the stubborn heart of a proud man. I thank Him for His demonstration of love toward me by not allowing me to follow my own wisdom. The suffering was a sort of grace.

I believe with all my heart that a good pastor sticks around. I want to be a good pastor. I want to see these children, born during my time here, raised up to know Christ. I want to baptize them and be there when they graduate and get married, and have children of their own. I held these children, just a day or two old, and blessed them, imagining all the years ahead of them. Oh, how sad I am that I may not be a part of those lives any longer.

It is so painful to leave. I only think about it in short bursts. The names that flash through my mind, people I have come to know and love. We will part ways and carry on, but for now, there will be sorrow. In a way, I am glad for the sorrow. It means I have given all I have to these people. Part of me now belongs to them, and part of them will remain with me. I am richer for it.

Before we know it, we will be in another place, investing our lives in that community, with those neighbours. We will not stop giving ourselves away. Even if we are there for a short time, we will give what we have. And when we leave that place, it will be painful. But, how else shall we live? There is no point in hoarding what God has so graciously given to us. If we do, that is all we will get. But if we give it away, riches far beyond measure await us.

I echo the words of the Apostle Paul when he said, it is all worth nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. These experiences during our time at Bergen have made our lives rich and sweet, but they cannot compare to the love and acceptance of Jesus. He is all we need, and what He has to offer will never disappoint and will never run dry. This is why we can give away all we have. This is why we do not fear the pain and sorrow of loss. Whatever we have to lose here in this life is nothing compared to the gain of knowing Jesus.

And so we will shortly depart, leaving behind a community blessed by God. We will never forget Bergen, and most of all, we will never forget the people of Bergen. I am thankful for those who stick around. The rocks of the community. They are the true heroes of a place. Thank you for being here and inviting us into your home.

May the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of His Spirit be with you.

Resignation Letter and Message

This morning I want to remind us all of the centrality of Jesus Christ and His crucifixion. The message will continue into next week, when I want to challenge you to be a people of the cross.

When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, New Living Translation)

Paul is emphasizing here the importance of trusting not in the wisdom of people, and in their ability to teach, or lead or explain things. Rather, trust in the power of the Spirit of God. For it is not human ability that gives strength to the church or its members. It is the power of God that gives you strength.

I have chosen this passage for a particular reason. I will share with you that reason, and then I want to continue with the message in hopes that you will find this to be a very meaningful and important message.

On October 31, 2013, I came to Bergen Church for the first time to meet with the pastoral search committee. I wrote in my journal after that meeting that I came away feeling a sense that Bergen Church really could be a place for our family to settle into for a while. To this day, I still feel the same way. And so it is with great difficulty to tell you that I have decided to resign from my position as Family Pastor here at Bergen.

I said from the start, and I have said it many times since then: I came to a place here in Bergen where God has been working long before I got here. And he will continue to work here long after I’m gone.

Although it was always my desire to be in this position for many years, I have never thought about myself as irreplaceable. I believe that the role of pastor is vital to the health of a local church, but the person who fills that role is only temporary.

As long as the Lord’s will is being pursued, it will be His Spirit that keeps the family healthy and strong for many generations.

Paul wrote this message to the Corinthian church in order to remind them of who they have placed their faith in. The message, not the messenger, is the key. Your faith is not in Rob or myself. Your faith is in the gospel of Jesus Christ: his death, which has purified you and brought peace between you and God.

During my time here, I have been a servant of God. I was brought to this particular place for a particular time. I have tried to do my best, but ultimately it is only the power of God that has been at work to transform you and this community.

This work will continue for many years to come, and not because you will have great pastors, but because you are constantly reminding one another of the power of God at work among you.

With this passage in 2 Corinthians, Paul was raising a banner over the people, a banner that declared that they belonged to God. And it was by the power of God that they would be able to stay strong and faithful.

The strength of the church must not depend on her human leaders. Training and skill are indeed valuable in a leader, but without the power of God, no amount of skill can help a church in bringing the presence of Jesus to our communities, to our neighbours and into our workplaces.

Next week I want to talk more about our identity as people of the cross, what that means for our daily lives. But I just want to say that each one of you who has declared him or herself a follower of Jesus, you all are able and commanded to be ministers of the gospel. This is not an option!

The pastors are here to equip you to this end, and to pray with you. But the real work of the gospel will only be done when each member takes responsibility for bringing the message of Jesus Christ and his crucifixion to your neighbours.

During my time here, I have seen many of you do this. But it is only done when the message has become life to your soul. And so this morning I want to share with you this simple message of Jesus Christ and his crucifixion. This is not my last sermon, only the first part of my last sermon. Next week, and possibly the week after, I will continue.

I acknowledge that some of you are having a difficult time focussing on this message, thinking about what I have just announced. Although this has been a conversation with Rob and the Board for a little while now, you all are probably quite surprised. After I have wrapped up my message, I will explain the reason for my resignation, and then Rob will come up and pray. After the service, I will stay as long as necessary so that anyone who wants to talk will have the opportunity to do so.

In the mean time, I hope you will hear this message. If I were to only have one opportunity to preach here, this is the message I would preach. It is not a new message, and if you have heard me preach more than once, you have heard this from me before. I want to read to you the Apostles Creed, and using that as an outline, go through the gospel message in its most basic form.

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From there he shall come to judge the living and the dead
I believe in the Holy Spirit
the holy universal church
the communion of saints
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting
Amen.

Paul wrote that he considers everything worthless when compared to knowing Jesus Christ. This is what the gospel demands. If you have heard the gospel before, but you are not willing to give up everything in trade for knowing Jesus, you need to hear this message again. And I hope that God will work in your heart, to bring you to repentance and to true faith in him as your only hope and greatest treasure.

God exists in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is the maker of all things seen and unseen. Jesus Christ, the Son, came to the earth by means of a supernatural pregnancy. Mary, who was engaged to Joseph, was a virgin, and became pregnant by the Spirit of God.

While Jesus lived on earth in human form, he lived a sinless life, declared himself one with the Father, and the promised Messiah. He was condemned to die by Pontius Pilate, who gave him the charge, King of the Jews. Jesus’ death was by crucifixion, after he was beaten and whipped until he could hardly walk. This punishment was undeserved, but necessary, for it is only through the shedding of pure blood that anyone can receive forgiveness for sins.

After Jesus died, and was buried, he rose from the dead, defeating death and giving true life to all who believe in him. Because of his death we have forgiveness. Because of his resurrection, we can have eternal life and fellowship with God.

Following His resurrection, Jesus spent some time with his disciples, reminding them of the coming Holy Spirit, who would help them as they continue the mission Jesus came to declare. This mission was to make disciples of all people, to teach them to observe the teachings of Jesus, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then ascended into heaven in human form, where he now lives as ruler with the Father, interceding for us until he returns to judge all the peoples of the earth. He will judge rightly and according to his wisdom.

Those who trust in Him for salvation will be judged as righteous and allowed entrance into the kingdom of God. And those who do not trust in Him for salvation will be condemned to Hell, where there will be separation from God and suffering beyond measure.

Although Jesus is absent in human form, he is present in Spirit. His presence is within all who trust in him, and his mission is being carried out all over the world by the church.

All people who trust in Jesus are commissioned by Jesus to proclaim the forgiveness of sins, and to invite them to join in our mission as we follow Jesus and obey his teachings.

It is this message I have just proclaimed to you that you are being sent by Jesus to proclaim. I do not send you, it is Jesus who sends you and invites you to participate with him as he gives you power and faith to carry out the mission.

There is much more to the gospel message. It is a message that will continue to challenge you all the days of your life. But it is also a message that will give you life and joy and peace even though you may face persecution and trouble.

Having heard this message, you now have a responsibility. You cannot receive this message only as a good thing to agree with. Jesus does not allow for a mediocre response. He demands a decision. Will you or will you not trust him?

Over the last four years I hope you have heard this message more than once. And I hope you have decided to trust Jesus. That is my only desire. I cannot offer you anything more than this: Jesus Christ and the hope of his salvation.

If you want to respond right now to this message, either because you have never made a decision to trust him, or because you need to renew your commitment to trust him, I urge you to talk to someone about it. If you feel the need to come forward and make a public declaration of your faith, please come while I pray, and stay here at the front until the service is over so that someone can come and talk with you.

Now, I would like to say a few more words in regards to my resignation.

I want to thank the Board for their leadership of our church. There doesn’t exist in the world a perfect leadership team. But, because of their trust in the Lord and their desire to love and serve this family, their leadership is unmatched. I can’t thank them enough for that.

And I want to thank all of you. Any pastor would be blessed to serve such a wonderful group of people. Over the last four years, Bergen Church has become our family. We have adopted older men and women as mentors for ourselves, and as aunts and uncles and grandparents for our children. This family is rich with character and an honest desire to faithfully follow Jesus.

As new people have begun attending during our time here, I have seen them welcomed not only with open arms, but with a sincere hope that each person would feel like they are a part of our family. This is one of the great testimonies to our community of the love and acceptance of Jesus.

It is important that you know the particulars of why I have come to the decision to resign. There is much to the story of what I have gone through in the last number of months, and beyond. At the outset, I want to emphasize that Bergen Church and the leadership are not to blame. This decision has not come out of conflict or a difficult working environment.

I do not claim that our time has been without struggle. But when it came down to the decision to resign, it was really about my own sense that my time here has come to an end.

In his book titled Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper recommends that from time to time we stop, and go away for a few days to pray and think about how our particular time and place in life fits into the great purpose of God.

Lynn and I did that in August, and things really began to become clear for us. Part of that retreat was a series of self-assessment workshops and conversations with the directors of Kerith Creek retreat centre.

We were given language that helped us understand ourselves and our calling. It has been this process of discovery that has brought us to this point. I am resigning not because Bergen Church has failed me or because anyone has done anything wrong. I am resigning in order to live with integrity.

If I were to stay in this position I would be lying to myself and to the church about whether or not I believe I should remain a paid pastor at Bergen Church.

John Piper goes on to say that every year he reexamined his life as a pastor at his church. He would look at what he was doing in the light of God’s global purpose. He asked himself, “Is this the most strategic investment of my life for the sake of God’s purpose to make the nations glad in him?” He asked his wife, “Are you sensing any tugs to move closer to the front lines of the unreached peoples?” Finally, he asked himself if he could stand before God and say that he stayed at his church because he believed he could be most instrumental there in accomplishing God’s purpose. If he could no longer say yes to that question, then his time at his church would be done. He stayed there for 33 years. I praise God for John Piper’s ministry, but it is only God who gave life to that church, and he continues to do so long after John Piper’s resignation from that position.

My resignation is an act of obedience and an act of faith. Through a lengthy time of reflection and difficult questions, I can no longer say that I am most effective in accomplishing God’s purpose by staying here. Lynn feels the same way; we are united in this decision.

We do not have complete clarity on what the next stage of our life will look like. But, we have a vision based on what we have learned about ourselves and how God has equipped us.

Right now, we are planning to move back home to Winkler, Manitoba. The kids would like to be with their cousins and grandparents. We do not know how long we will be in Winkler, but wherever we go and whatever we find ourselves doing, one thing is clear: both Lynn and I will find ourselves searching for creative ways to empower people to thrive as unique and gifted individuals.

We have learned about ourselves that we work best in an environment where there are constantly new challenges that require unconventional problem solving. We deal well with change and a dynamic atmosphere in which we are expected to provide creative leadership as we explore new territory. We hope to eventually find ourselves in a place where our unique personalities and gifts and leadership styles are functioning at an optimum level.

We have decided that my final Sunday here will be December 17. We will go to Manitoba for the holidays and spend some time with our families. What happens after that depends on the sale of our house. There is a possibility we may stay in the community for a while longer, or we may not return after Christmas.

In the next month I will continue to fulfill my regular responsibilities with the youth group, as well as preaching next week and possibly the week after, as Rob recovers from surgery.

If you would like to meet with me sometime over the next few weeks, I will make sure to keep plenty of time open for conversations. Please do not hesitate to contact me and arrange a time to meet. I will be very happy to talk.

(un)worthy Book Published


After months of work, I’ve finally published this short book. Here is a description:

When John the Baptist declared that he was unworthy to be the slave of Jesus, he set a precedent for a right view of ourselves and a right view of our Saviour. Biblical humility requires a view of Jesus that is worthy of who he is, and a view of ourselves as unworthy of being in his presence. In this short book, I seek to show from Scripture the sort of faith that was commended by Jesus. It is my desire to see followers of Jesus experience the freedom and peace that comes with this sort of relationship with Jesus. We do not deserve to have a relationship with Jesus. Yet, that very realization is what will open the doors to a sincere and powerful faith.

Buy the book exclusively on Amazon for Kindle.

Faith or Obedience?

This is a question that is very common: are we saved by faith or are we saved by obedience? This is a very troubling question, and I think it is the wrong question.

If you have heard the gospel of Jesus, and have made a decision to believe that it is true. If you have started to read or listen to the teachings of Jesus in some way, and still believe that what Jesus says is true, do you truly think that the intention of Jesus was for us to say yes to following him and then ignore his teaching?

Salvation, without a doubt, is a gift from God. None of us has earned it. None of us have any hope of earning it. When the Holy Spirit moves among us, and prompts us to believe and trust in Jesus, that is a gift we have not earned.

If you identify yourself as a disciple of Jesus, and if you believe that because you are a disciple of Jesus that you belong to the kingdom of heaven, then your life will be filled with a complete allegiance to your King and Saviour, Jesus Christ. And allegiance to him involves learning his teachings and giving yourself to them in a daily surrender of your will.

When is the last time you found yourself in prayer surrendering yourself to the grace of God? When is the last time you were desperate for God to save you from the corruption of sin?

Jesus said that those who think they can come to him based on what they have done will be cast aside by him. But those who set themselves to learning and obeying his teaching find that they are unworthy and undeserving of his acceptance.

This is where we need to be as followers of Jesus. Not asking whether we are saved by faith or obedience. Rather, desperate to be as close to Jesus as possible because there is no other place we would rather be.

How to Bless in the Name of Jesus

The blessing of Jesus is not dependant on our situation. It is not dependant on material possessions, or power, or prestige. It infiltrates these things and transforms them from the inside.

Some of us get so caught up in looking a hundred miles away for how God is working, that we fail to see what God is doing right in front of us.

If you read the gospels, you will see that Jesus called some people to drop what they were doing and follow him. We might read that and think that in order to follow Jesus we need to stop what we are doing. We need to give up our current situation and go out into the mission field.

The first disciples were the ones called by Jesus away form their vocations in order to be his apprentices and to be enabled to show others the way of Jesus. Not everyone, however, is called by Jesus to do that. Most people are called by Jesus to have their current situations transformed by his presence.

Jesus is calling us to keep doing what we are already doing, but in a different way. The way we are sent by Jesus to bless others is through what we are already doing. Bless your co-workers. Bless your employer. Bless your customers. Be the presence of Jesus by doing the work you are doing in the way Jesus is leading and sending you.