All Posts By

Michael Voll

Faith and Good Deeds

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Milk and cookies, popcorn and the movies, love and marriage. They go together. You just can’t have one without the other (or at least it’s not nearly as fun!)

The Perfect Pair

In the last few weeks, we have been learning some unCommon Sense that comes straight from the Bible in the New Testament book of James. This tiny book packs a powerful punch of wisdom that sometimes has us shouting “Amen!” then crying “Ouch!”

This week we will be talking about the dynamic pairing of faith and good deeds, two things that are inseparable in the life of any healthy and thriving follower of Jesus.

If we say we have faith in God it needs to be demonstrated in the way we act, speak and think. It needs to shape us. There is no such thing as a theoretical faith. Undemonstrated faith is dead. Lifeless. Worthless. James points out to his hearers that even the demons believe in God (James 2:19). However, their belief in God makes them shudder in terror. Our faith/belief is meant to bring love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22). They run from God, our faith is meant to bring us closer to God.

Living Faith

The life of every human is in the spirit. If you have ever been with someone as they passed away you know that there is a marked difference in the moments before and after their heart stops. Their life is gone. Their body doesn’t look or feel the same. They may not have moved, but their spirit did, and now their body is dead. 

Too often our faith is on life support or even dead because we have a faith that believes in God but has no demonstrable actions to back it up. James does not let his hearers get away with this ‘fake faith’, and I believe that Jesus doesn’t want us to either. He wants us to be full of life, and to bring life to every situation we encounter.

Faith and good deeds go together. You can’t have one without the other. We don’t do our good deeds to prove our faith, we do good deeds because of our faith. It is a natural outflow.

This week may you let your light shine so that people will see your good deeds and praise your Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16).

Playing Favourites

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Some of the most frequently asked questions adults ask kids (and kids ask each other) begins with these three words: What’s your favorite______________?

You Must Have a Favourite…

We ask about a person’s favourite colour, food, sport, subject in school and movie. From our earliest years, we are ingrained to choose a preference in almost every area of life. If you say you don’t have a favourite song, you might be met with incredulity…”You don’t have a favourite song? What’s wrong with you?”

Unfortunately, what starts out as being a harmless way to start or keep a discussion going can quickly become something more destructive if taken too far.

Preference Over People

We begin to choose sides, and before long we draw lines of distinction between one another based on preference rather than treating each other as people. Preference over people is rarely productive. In fact, it can become destructive in a hurry.

This summer we are looking into the book of James to find some unCommon wisdom that needs to become common in our lives. In James 2:1-4 we are told that it is ‘unChristian’ to show favouritism. An example is showing favouritism to rich people over poor people. It seems that in our desire for status and money we often end up sucking up to people who can give us what we want, and shunning those who have little to offer in the way of money or power. James says it’s not cool.

Breaking Down the Barriers

But we discriminate all the time. We discriminate by race, sex, age, and ability. We may not share our opinions aloud, but there are assumptions and prejudices we hold to that need to be rooted out of our lives. They are killing us and killing the good work Jesus came to do-to break down barriers that divide us from one another and from Him.

This Sunday I encourage you to join us for one of our gatherings (9:30 and 11:00am, 12:30pm). It is a great opportunity to be with and worship with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. It is a taste of heaven on earth.

When it comes to people, let’s pick favourites like God does. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

God loves the whole world. We are all his favourites. That includes you!

Follow Through

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Follow-through is a powerful thing.

Big Plans, No Results

There are many people who make grandiose plans or set lofty goals. They look really good on paper, but they would look even better in reality. If these plans and goals were completed who knows how the course of history would be altered?

Anyone involved in sports knows that the power is in the follow-through. Whether that is shooting a puck, throwing a football or swinging a bat or golf club, the follow-through is vital to success.

The same holds true with our faith.

Faith That Finishes

Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). One of the main ways that we hear the voice of God is through the Bible. God has spoken and still speaks through the Bible. This is the first step, hearing.

However, in order for our faith to be living and produce fruit, we need to actually do what God wants us to do. It’s one thing to hear what God wants us to do, it’s another thing to do it. So the second step is to take action and do what it says.

I want to encourage you to read the Bible on a daily basis. As a church, we have a daily Bible reading plan. Click here to access it. As you read, ask yourself a few questions:

What was being said to the original hearers?

What is being said to me today?

Then for the hard part.

Just Do It!

The third question is, “In light of this word from God, What do I need to do?”

This is the follow-through.

Do what it says. That step of obedience will make all the difference in your life. Your faith will come alive, and you will grow.

And you just might experience more power, love, and peace in your life than you ever have before.

I hope to see you on Sunday as we explore the unCommon Sense found in the book of James. I’m praying this will be a summer of growth for you!

Pastor Michael

unCommon Sense

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Common sense doesn’t seem to be all that common anymore. Maybe it never was, or it left the building with Elvis.

Common Sense

Essentially common sense is sound judgment in practical matters. There are literally millions of YouTube videos documenting the lack of common sense in our world. Some of them funny, and some of them painful to watch. I’m sure ER doctors and nurses could tell us many stories of good times gone wrong, often involving adults on skateboards or trampolines. A little bit of common sense would have saved a world of hurt.

In our next sermon series at North Pointe, we will be looking through the New Testament book of James. Throughout this short book, we are given practical lessons to help us live fulfilling lives and avoid pitfalls like temptation or talking when we should be listening.

unCommon Sense

The kind of sense that James (and Jesus!) wants to help us hear, understand and live out in our everyday lives is quite uncommon, but I want it to become common at North Pointe. Over the next nine weeks, we will look into the wisdom contained in James and apply it directly to our lives today. I know you will walk away changed in a very positive way if you take this uncommon sense seriously.

So today, pick up your Bible (or app!) and start by reading James 1. Re-read it each day for the next week, letting the truth bombs sink deep into your psyche. Then move on to James 2 the next week. In five weeks I guarantee you will be changed as you prayerfully and practically let God speak to you through the wisdom of this hard-hitting book.

May this be your most restful summer ever. And may it also be the summer where you are shaped by God’s Word like you never have been before. You will be glad you did.

Just be careful out there. Think twice before you become the next YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons!

Blessings.

Pastor Michael

Finding the Rest of Your Life

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It’s kind of funny that God had to command us to rest.

Let’s be honest, we probably all have a friend, family member or co-worker who could use a reminder TO work. Seems like rest is something that many people in our culture have mastered.

True Rest

However, on closer inspection, it is a lack of true rest that has us running around like chickens with our heads cut off (how’s that for ugly imagery!). Many people are busy, but not really going anywhere. We are restless. Jumping from one project to another, trying to find meaning and enjoyment, but often missing out on both in the blur of busyness.

That’s a problem. One that God wants to help us solve.

Our Fruitfulness is directly tied to our Restfulness

When we learn to rest in the work of God, we become strong. When we rely on God and find our strength in him, he gives us the ability to do far more than we could in our own strength.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but restfulness is the key to fruitfulness.

Humankind was made to be productive. We thrive on transforming things, making them better, faster, more beautiful. We were created this way by God. He is a designer, the ultimate Creative! In order to be at our most productive we need to use our time wisely and make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Some think that to make the most out of every day they need to squeeze every drop of time out of the day. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that in order to get more things done people need to learn to “sleep faster.”

This is not the solution.

Finding Our Rhythm

Instead, we need to get back to the rhythms of life that we were designed with. One day in seven needs to be set aside to rest and enjoy all we have been a part of creating in the past week. This may look different from one person to the next, but the principle holds true-we are best with rest.

This summer I challenge you to take time to rest. Shut off your phone, turn off your notifications, and go for a walk, or take a nap. Maybe the best thing you could do is go for a bike ride with your family or a coffee with friends. But whatever you do, take time to speak with God and listen to his leading. Thank Him for his blessings, talk to him about your concerns, and find his strength in your weakness.

May this be your most restful summer ever!

*I hope to see you this Sunday at North Pointe. We will have pancakes before each service to celebrate Canada Day.

It’s Time to Renew!

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Summertime in Alberta is very special.

After months of cold weather and staying indoors, everything and everyone comes alive. Days are long and the nights are warm (especially if you are able to sit around a fire with friends!).

Pause?

Many things are put on pause during the months of July and August so we can squeeze the most fun out of the season.

Sometimes it seems that we even put our relationship with God on pause.

We don’t do this on purpose, it just happens. We slide into a rhythm of camping, vacationing or staycationing. Then we forget to keep up disciplines that we put in place throughout the year. Bible reading, prayer and being encouraged by other believers becomes a distant memory.

Exhausted

Is it any wonder that we often come back from holidays in need of a holiday?

I have spent a week on the beach and felt more tired than when I started the week.

Here’s the secret that the Bible has revealed for everyone as plain as day: “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31).”

We renew our strength when we wait, hope, and trust in the Lord.

Taking time at the beach, laying in a hammock or reading a great novel are fantastic things to do in the summer. It’s even fun to take the kids to K Days or take in one of the many festivals in our awesome city.

Renewed

The only way to start September with strength is by prioritizing your relationship with God during July and August. We were made for relationship with God, even in the summer. So when you wake, take time to read the Bible and pray. Pray with your children before bed, even if it’s a little bit later than usual. And curl up with a good Christian book and feed your soul at some point.

Start September renewed! Enjoy the summer while it’s here!

My Dad is Stronger than Your Dad!

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As a young child, I idolized my dad. I wanted to be just like him in every way. To be able to fix cars like him and to know the things he did about history.  Mostly, I just wanted to be tough like him.

My dad was the toughest guy around. I knew he could beat anyone in a fight. In fact, I was so convinced of this that I got into a fight with three of my best friends about who had the toughest dad.

I won. LOL.

I don’t think my experience is all that unique. Young children often look up to their parents, and young boys, in particular, seem to look up to the strength they find in their fathers.

That’s one of the many reasons that fathers are so important.

Dad’s Are IMPORTANT

This Sunday is Father’s Day. Father’s Day has been celebrated since the middle of the last century in North America. It is the one time of the year that dads wear a tie made out of paper or get a gift card to Canadian Tire to buy cool tools or BBQ nick nacks.

At North Pointe, we celebrate dads. There’s no such thing as a perfect dad, but fathers are necessary to positively shape children and families. We also understand that Father’s Day can bring up all sorts of negative feelings, depending on the relationship you have (or did not have) with your father.

Good Father

Rather than avoid a day that might be awkward, we choose to celebrate. Regardless of what your experience has been so far, God is a Father to the fatherless and sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:5-6). God is perfect as a father, only giving good gifts to his children…and we are not talking about video games and Barbies. He gives us the gift of a relationship with himself. He gives the right to be in a family where we are adopted and given full rights as children. We even become heirs to all that he has. Pretty amazing stuff.

I have experienced both a good father here on earth and a good Heavenly Father. I feel pretty blessed. However, no matter what your experience has been up until this point, I want you to know that God loves you. And he wants to show you what a good Father is all about.

This Sunday, I challenge you to come to North Pointe. Bring a friend (perhaps your dad!) and hear the message “My Dad is Stronger than Your Dad.” I think you’ll be glad you did.

Blessings.

Pastor Michael

Celebrating Unity in Diversity

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This Sunday is our International Sunday. When you arrive at the church you will notice a few things that you don’t normally see at North Pointe.

Compassion Experience

First, In the North Parking Lot, you will see a tent and semi-trailer set up known as the Compassion Experience. From Friday morning through to Monday night people will tour through a makeshift home from the Philippines to see how some people live, work and play around the world. It will be both educational and motivational, providing a better understanding of the complexities of life.

If you are interested in participating in this free tour, sign up by clicking here.

Keewani’s Story

Next, as you enter the doors, you will see flags from MANY countries displayed throughout the church building. At North Pointe, there are over 82 countries represented and more to come! We are thankful for this diversity. It makes us stronger. It makes us better, and it certainly spices us up! Our service this Sunday will feature a woman named Keewani speaking on behalf of Compassion Canada. The Compassion Experience features her childhood home. We are grateful she will be sharing her powerful story with us.

Culinary Celebration

Finally, after the services, we will have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children around the world through sponsorship. $41 each month goes a long way. Then we celebrate through food! Down the hallway of the church will be tables with delicacies from various nations and cultures. What a fantastic opportunity to share with one another.

Make sure to join us on Sunday. Let’s celebrate the diversity of our world. We are all created in the image of God. Jesus prayed that we would be one (unified), just as the Father, Son, and Spirit are one (John 17:21). Let’s live out International Sunday EVERY day.

Blessings.

Pastor Michael

PS-We are still looking for volunteers to help us Friday-Monday from 10:30am-6:00pm to give tours of our building and hand out coffee and water to those who have come through the Compassion Experience. If you are willing to volunteer a few hours of your time, please email me at mike@np.church

 

You Can’t Judge Me!

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Judgy (is that even a word?) people are not fun to be around. They rarely seem happy and regularly look for faults in other people. They police others by a standard of their own making.

It’s hard to satisfy a judgmental person. You will never be good enough to earn their respect.

Twisted Motives

However, I think it reveals a deeper issue. When we judge or look down on someone else, we are, in a twisted way, elevating ourselves. If you get 60% on an exam you may feel bad until you meet the person who got 53%. Then you might even feel a bit superior and smug about your own lackluster performance.

Note: If you have to put another person down in order to look good you probably need to check yourself!

Jesus talked a lot about judging while he was on the earth. The main thrust of his teaching was that if you are going to judge someone you better have your own house in order. There is nothing worse than a hypocrite who says one thing and does another (see Matthew 7:1-5).

However, in our culture, we have come to a place where we think that no one has the right to judge us. No one has the right to call us on the character traits/choices in our lives that are hurting us or others. “You can’t judge me!” is the cry of our culture. This is not healthy or true.

Love: The Ultimate Motive

Love was the motivating factor for everything that Jesus did while he was on the earth. It was his love for people that had him teach about all sorts of issues, from sexuality to finances to relationships. Jesus didn’t impose standards because he hated or wanted to burden people; he did it so that people could experience freedom and joy in their lives (Matthew 11:30).

As a Christian, it is not my place to judge people who do not have a relationship with Jesus by the standards of the Bible (1 Corinthians 5:12). However, I am called to encourage, correct and even discipline fellow Christians when they are not living the way the Jesus has asked them to live. Why? For their own good, and because it is people who claim they are Christians and live unlike Jesus that give him a bad name. Hypocrisy has kept many people away from Jesus. We can’t allow this to happen.

A loving parent corrects a child when they are doing something harmful. A loving Christian corrects and encourages a fellow believer when they are harming themselves and others through words and actions that aren’t Godly. Love cares enough to confront, and then comfort that person as they turn from their ways.

Leading and Learning

I have surrendered myself to input from several people whom I meet with on a regular basis. They have the right to call me higher in areas that I am struggling with. They love me and have my best interests in mind. Some of our conversations have been difficult, but they have been good. And I am better because they care enough to call me out and call me up.

This week, may you lead your life with love. Have compassion and grace for those who are far from Jesus, and encourage those who are trying their best to follow Jesus. We need one another!

Just a Little Bit More

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One of the most elusive pursuits in the world is contentment. It always seems to be just beyond our reach.

When we get the car of our dreams, we realize that the leather seats are a bit too hot in the summer. “I guess we should have got the cooling option…”

Finally, the house we have been waiting for becomes a reality after years of saving. Once we move in we realize that it just doesn’t look right with our old furniture. “Time to go shopping…”

After raising kids and planning what to do with the extra time we will have as empty nesters we realize that life isn’t nearly as fun without a bit of the buzz. “If only grandkids were on the horizon soon…”

We have all been there. We seem to have the need to strive for more, but too much is never enough.

A Learning Curve

Contentment is not natural.

The apostle Paul reminds his listeners in Philippians 4:11 that contentment is learned. He had to learn it, and I suspect that it was something he was learning until he drew his last breath. Certainly, it is something I am learning, and thankfully God is a patient, yet a persistent teacher.

Real Blessing

This Sunday we are going to be continuing on in our series called Fake News.

We are going to uncover the lie that tells us if we follow and obey Jesus we will be ble$$ed. Yes, the spelling of ble$$ed was on purpose, as there is a growing group of people that believe prosperity is the mark of a blessed life. I know that the Bible teaches us so much more.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. Make sure to ask someone to join you. It just may be their first step towards true contentment.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Michael