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Priority Matters

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Around the middle of August every year, I get a growing sense of expectation. Summer is awesome (it’s BY FAR my favourite season), but there is something to be said for getting back into some of the regular rhythms and routines that September naturally brings. It is an opportunity to hit the reset button on the year, 2/3 of the way through. What a deal!

Never Too Late to Make a Change

So if 2019 hasn’t been all that you had hoped, or if you really need to bear down to make some changes in your personal life, now is the time to do it.

However, if you are going to make positive changes, makes sure your priority is Jesus. Often we fill up our schedules with appointments, work tasks, driving the kids to any number of sports, music or art-related commitments. Once we fill up our schedules we may wonder if we can squeeze in just one more thing…like church on Sundays, or joining a small group Bible Study. Often we just can’t squeeze it in, so we tell ourselves, “It will be different in January.”

It won’t be.

Priority

Not unless you prioritize. And priority means “first concern” or “most important.” Is a growing relationship with Jesus most important for you? If you answer yes, is there any proof of that in your schedule? If not, why isn’t it your priority? Do you think it is unimportant or irrelevant, or perhaps a nice extra, but not the main thing?

We all have things we must do. Make money, put food on the table, pay bills, develop relationships…and the list could go on forever. Jesus knows all that we have to do, but he also knows what we MUST do to get it accomplished in the right order.

The Right Order

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus outlined the number of things that we can spend ourselves chasing and worrying about. His solution? “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Look to God first and all of the other stuff will fall into line.

This may seem too simple, but I’ve found in my own life that when my relationship with Jesus is growing and developing, so many other areas flourish. I am more patient and loving, and often far more focused with my time and energy. Starting the day reading the Bible and praying centres me in on what is really important, and keeps me from chasing after the wind.

This fall at North Pointe we have many different options to help you build your relationship with Jesus, either by attending a class or serving others. Make sure to include your spiritual life in the plans you make for September. It starts with a click to the North Pointe website…here.

Now enjoy the rest of your summer!

True Wisdom

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Experts have charted the progression of knowledge that the world has produced, and the rate that is has grown over the last several thousand years. It’s quite startling.

Knowledge Growth

Up until about 1900, knowledge doubled approximately every hundred years. By 1950, it was doubling every 25 years. In the year 2000, knowledge doubled every year….and now it sees to be doubling EVERY DAY.

Wow. Mind Blown!

Regression?

With all of this knowledge, you would think that the human race would be progressing. It doesn’t seem to be that way.

While we may be gaining knowledge, it seems we have not gained wisdom.

There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom.

The Bible tells us that “Knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). We have all been around someone with a lot of book smarts that was almost impossible to bear with. Their bragging and better-than-you attitude actually made them look pretty, how shall I say this…stupid. It seems to me this is how we communicate on social media, in politics, and unfortunately on issues of faith more and more. It’s not wise.

Real Wisdom

On the other hand, we have been with wise people that carry with them a humility that is born of pure motives. They care about others, and they seem to have learned from past experiences rather than repeating their error over and over. In the book of James, we are clearly told that a wise person proves their wisdom by living an honourable life (James 3:13). Wisdom may be an invisible quality, but it shows through how we live. It is rooted in our relationship with God (Proverbs 9:10) and is peaceable, full of mercy and shows itself through good deeds, among other attractive attributes.

The best part of it all?

Everyone can become wise. It has nothing to do with your “smarts” or GPA or level of schooling. It has everything to do with your relationship with Jesus and your willingness to both ask for wisdom and walk it out in your everyday life. The more you do wise things, the easier it gets, and the wiser you will become.

Let’s not get too caught up with a whole bunch of head knowledge that may or may not make a real difference in our lives, or in the lives of others around us. Instead, let’s pursue godly wisdom and walk it out by the way we speak, act and react to everyday situations.

Now that’s wise!

Taming the Tongue

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I was five years old when I first saw fire damage. A house in our neighborhood went up in flames and before long it was burned down to the studs. Little was left except for the charred remains of what was furniture, walls, flooring, and memories. My dad walked me through it a few days after the fire and it was an eerie experience.

Total Devastation

Fire devastates.

As Albertans, we have experienced large fires in the last few years. Slave Lake, Fort Mac, and the number of forest fires in the northern parts of our Province that have blanketed our open sky with smoke and threatened to block out all sunlight from our summer. For those far away from the fires, they are an inconvenience. For those caught in the middle, it is devastation.

Tongue Tied?

In James 3:6 the tongue is described as a fire. He is referring to the words spoken and the thoughts/attitudes that pour out of our mouths. At times our words are fiery, and they can literally burn down everything in its way. Have you ever had someone tear into you? It hurts. Ten seconds of careless words can break a relationship forever.

It seems that there is little hope for us. James tells us that the tongue can’t be tamed (3:8). Kind of sounds bleak doesn’t it?

Does that mean that we just keep swearing like a trucker, lying, slandering and gossiping?

Not at all.

There is hope. Things can change.

Tongue Tamed

It’s a hopeless cause to try to change on our own strength. At some point, we will end us saying something dumb, or worse, destructive. We will burn down those around us.

Thankfully we don’t have to change on our own. Self-help won’t help.

The Holy Spirit is there to help us. He’s the Helper (John 14:26).

Our politicians, movie stars and social media warriors talk enough trash. What we need is for Jesus to flow out of us in our words and actions. Change is possible, but it won’t happen overnight. 

ALL THINGS are possible with God. Even cleaning out that potty mouth!

Jesus wants us to speak life where there is death, and bring encouragement to the weary through our words and actions.

Remember, your words are powerful. Use them wisely. Ask God to help you this week to be a source of vitalization, not devastation.

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