I am Judas

Click here to listen to this 10-minute message.

The story of Christ’s crucifixion confronts us with the dark-side of humanity. Having coming back from a visit to Rwanda last week, where I visited the genocide memorial in Kigali, where close to 300,000 victims of the 1994 genocide are buried, this potential for darkness and evil is especially prominent in my mind. We each need to own up to the role that we played in the murder of Jesus Christ – a man who had nothing but immense love for the world.

Judas Iscariot is arguably the most tragic character in the Bible (John 13:21-32). He walked with Jesus for three years, but ended up betraying him into the hands of the Jewish and Roman authorities for just a few coins. Too late, he recognised the horror of what he had done and attempted to repent and undo his evil deed. In despair he took his life.

We cannot blame Judas for Christ’s death, because we too betray Jesus and we too contribute to his death. And so, I suggest that we need to say “I am Judas” in recognition of our partnership in the execution of the Son of God. (I have adapted the ‘Je suis Charlie’ icon that was created after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper in 2015 – ‘Je suis Judas’.)

But , where Judas approached the religious leaders for forgiveness, we should rather approach Jesus, whose capacity for forgiveness is eternal. And where Judas was unable to forgive himself, we need to accept Jesus’ forgiveness and allow ourselves to be set free from sin and guilt. Thus, we can also say, “I am not Judas” (‘Je ne suis pas Judas’).

Suffering and Glory

Click here to listen to this 16-minute message.

Jesus provides us an example of faithful journeying along the path that God had set him, a path which lead into and through suffering. He follows this path, trusting that God is present and enabling, and believing that it is a path that leads to glory.

Jesus encourages us also to follow such paths, to understand the meaning and value of hardship, and to trust that through these experiences we will reap a reward of honour and glory.

Such insights are particularly meaningful as we journey through Lent and approach Easter, when Jesus pays the ultimate price for our sin.

This message is based on John 12:20-33.

In All Things, God Works

http://e-thor-carlson-fine-art.com/Fine-Art-Tapestry.html

Click here to listen to the audio recording of this message

In all things, God works. Even during the darkest times of our life, God continues to work God’s purposes out.

I’ve been through some pretty dark times in my life – a long history of depression, a survivor of sexual abuse, a month in a psychiatric hospital. Life can be tough! And when we or those we love are in the midst of suffering, we often wonder where God is in all this. We wonder how God can allow these bad things. And how God can make anything good come out of the bad.

In Romans 8:28, Paul assures us that in all things, God works for our good. But this verse, so thrown around, can feel like an assault, rather than a beacon of hope, when we are in the midst of suffering. When suffering is really bad, it is hard to imagine that God could in any way be involved. It becomes hard to remember that God loves us, passionately.

This recording is a re-presentation of the transcript of a sermon that I delivered five years ago. A friend of mine, who found this sermon meaningful back then, sent it to me recently, to preach my own sermon back at me, while I have been going through a difficult time. And I felt ministered to. She didn’t know this, but it was particularly meaningful because this month it has been 20 years since I was admitted to hospital for severe depression, an experience that is one of the touchstones of my life. And so, I present this message again, as a podcast, hoping that it may minister to you.

In all things, God works. Even during the darkest times of our life, God continues to work God’s purposes out.

Click here to access the written transcription of this sermon, as preached on 27 July 2008.

Making Sense of God’s Will

https://i1.wp.com/blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/climate-change.jpg

Making Sense of God’s Will

Sometimes life happens to us – the storms of life! – leaving us reeling and questioning: Where is God in this? Why did God let this happen? Is this God’s will? If it is God’s will, must I just submit to it? And if it’s not God’s will, must I fight against it? What is God’s will anyway?!

These are things we all grapple with from time to time. In fact, it is something I am grappling with right now. There are no easy answers. And so this message is really a message to myself. You’ll be listening in on my own questioning. Hopefully, you’ll gain a new insight into God’s attitude towards you; God’s love for you.

This message draws on several verses, not just one passage:

Matthew 7:9-11
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Matthew 18:14
“So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.”

John 10:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Ephesians 1:9-10
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (NASB)

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (AV)

Pressing on to Glory

Pressing on to Glory

This part of our Lent series. This one is about the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark 9, but focuses on the need to set aside our desire for the good life in order to follow the call of Christ, which ends in glory. Mark 9:2-10 (& Phil 3:14-4:1). Preached 4 March 2012.