Sunday, July 31, 2011

Touching Base! Part 135

God’s goodness is right at your fingertips

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

How offended do you think people would be if they knew that Jesus had said the following, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18). I think that this statement of Jesus would irk some. It would be an offense to our sense of decency, independence, progress, sophistication, and superiority. After all, in the 21st Century (and long before) man has put himself/herself in the place of god. Yet the biblical concept of moral and spiritual good is thoroughly theological, and stands in sharp contrast with the anthropocentric view of goodness developed by the Greeks and later thinkers in the Greek tradition.

Our own goodness would, and does certainly “blush” in the face of God’s goodness. Paul understood this when he said that there was no moral good within human nature (Romans 7:18). If there is any good to be found in us, it had to come from God, for we are incapable of producing it ourselves.

In our study this week we are looking at the 7th trait of the fruit of the Spirit - goodness. God’s nature is ultimately defined by goodness and, consequently, so are the actions that flow from His nature. All throughout Scripture we read of people praising, literally boasting, about the goodness of God.

“God Himself is good; that is, He is everything that God should be — the ideal person, the sum total of all perfection. There are no defects or contradictions in Him, and nothing can be added to His nature to make Him any better. He is excellence to an infinite degree, possessing every desirable quality, and therefore of inestimable value. God is good.” Richard L. Strauss

An interesting fact about God’s goodness is that it was the first attribute of God to be brought into question when the enemy came to Adam and Eve and implied that God was less than good for denying her the luscious fruit of that one forbidden tree (cf. Genesis 3:1-5).

This week we answered the question “What is an example of the goodness of God?” The answer comes in the form of our big idea - The goodness of God is right at your fingertips. If the Bible is what it claims to be, and what God claims it to be, then God’s word to us is one of the greatest demonstrations of God’s goodness. He has given us a manual for this life and for eternity!

Let’s develop this big idea by looking at the benefits of Scripture as listed in Psalm 19:7-11:

  • It Revives the Soul
To revive is to return something to it original state, to make a linear motion back to a point previously departed from. There is a healing, restorative element to God’s word. The imagery that I used on Sunday was of a guitar being tuned. Our lives can get out of “pitch” and Scripture can bring us back in to tune. The greatest tune up is when we come to Christ and He restores what was lost in the Fall (in Genesis). Yet as Christ-followers we need to allow Scripture to tune up our lives daily by the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice that the text says it revives our soul. In other words, Scripture does not do what Botox does. Rather Scripture takes God’s healing truth to our souls - the inner person - that often can involve repentance, forgiveness, exposing a lie, attitudinal changes etc. Notice that the implication of this statement, “revives the Soul”, is that we come to Scripture with contrition and openness to its authority. We deceive ourselves when we merely listen to it but do not do what it says (James 1:19-25)

During the day, when do you allow Scripture to revive your soul? I often end my own day reading Scripture and praying through what I read. Sometimes the day has affected my personal tuning and I need God to use His word to help me get back in pitch.

What was a recent tune up like for you? How did God’s word shape you or challenge an attitude?

  • It Makes Wise The Simple
This statement says something about the nature of God’s word: “It has been said that the Bible is like a deep, broad, body of water, shallow enough for a lamb to wade in but deep enough for an elephant to swim in.” (DeYoung, Editor. Don’t Call It A Comeback, p.66) However this statement also says something about humankind. In comparison to God, the most intelligent human being that has ever walked this planet is simple. Not only does our goodness “blush” in the face of God’s goodness but our intelligence and sophistication “blushes” in the presence of God. However, God is so good that He gives us His word. Listen to what the Psalmist said:

“Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
for you have broadened my understanding.”
(Psalm 119:29-32)

Ever seen any evidence to suggest that in spite of all our advances, man is still somewhat simple? “Simple” means “pertaining to persons that are easily deceived or persuaded, showing lack of wisdom and understanding.”

  • It Gives Joy To The Heart (I will be brief on this point)
Note the benefits listed in this text. Is it any wonder that joy would well up in your heart because of how your life can benefit from investing in God’s word? Let’s remember that the word leads us to the ultimate Word that John talks about in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It is Jesus who can truly revive the soul, make wise the simple and bring light to our path. It is the message of Christ that is weaved from Genesis to Revelation.

  • It Gives Light to the Eyes
The imagery is pretty clear. The word of God is like a flashlight that casts light onto the path of life. There are other “light” sources that many choose to live by, but God has given us His word so that we can truly find our way. One thing I would say is that we can stick a flashlight on the shelf and only pull it out in case of emergencies and benefit from its light. But the word of God doesn’t work like that. My observation is that if you only pull it out in times of crisis you will fumble around trying to find the right light for the kind of darkness you are facing. And even if you find the right light, you may be so use to living in accordance with another light source that you might have a hard time believing, receiving and submitting to God’s light. God’s word casts the best light for those who daily invest and are shaped by its enlightening truths.

What part of your path needs some of God’s light these days?
How has God’s truth guided your steps in a recent decision?

The goodness of God is right at your fingertips. Are you embracing the goodness of God? Are you daily taking in God’s word? No doubt on a daily basis your heart is being bombarded by messages that are attempting to shape you and make you. God is so good that He has placed in our laps His Word for our lives. Don’t keep just keep it at your fingertips. Embrace it, or you will miss out.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Touching Base! Part 134

Profit Bringer

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

How much does the world you live in need a little kindness these days? Do you know anyone that would greatly benefit from a little kindness? Is there possibly a struggling single parent, a family teetering, a senior in need of an act of kindness? Do you believe our world is deficient in acts of kindness? I have heard some say that the world can be a pretty cruel place.

This week in our Punch series we looked at the fifth trait of the fruit of the Spirit, “kindness”. Here is what the word means:
  • Moral goodness,
  • The idea of treating all people like members of your family
  • A person who is acts kindly, and who brings profit to their situation
  • A person who is described as a kind person is usually a person people want to be around because they feel empowered, enable by that person, they feel stronger.
On Sunday, I repeatedly used the phrase “profit bringer”. If you think about it that is exactly what a kind act, word or gesture does for someone else. They profit from the interaction, from the act of kindness. Their lives are better off because somehow their life intersected with a “profit bringer!”

Let’s check out a story Paul recounts demonstrating the influence of a “profit bringer”:

Text: 2 Timothy 1:16-18

“May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.”
The “profit bringer” is Onesiphorus, not a common household name today. Perhaps in the school yard his nickname was “One” so let’s stick with One for now. The profiteer is Paul. Note how much One stands out. In verse 15, everyone has deserted Paul. This is a bit of an overstatement but when you are in the pit that is what it may feel like. But One has stayed with Paul and as a result, Paul blesses everyone in the household of One.

Note the gratitude of Paul: Read v. 16a and 18a and you get an idea of how full Paul is with thanks for One showing kindness to him. I find that in all my conversations with people, when referring to people who are “profit bringers”, there is a welling up of thanks and appreciation directed toward that person or persons. Some even have tears come to their eyes when thinking of how deeply touched they were by a certain act.

Imagine living in such a way that people have this goodwill toward you or the church. Imagine having this kind of impact on people’s lives. The imagery that comes to mind is that of the wake a boat leaves as it rides along the surface of the water. Paul stands in One’s wake and says thanks.

It is not always easy to demonstrate kindness because sometimes the profit bringer needs to bring a hard word that may not be interpreted as an act of kindness. However, the full intention of what is said is for the person’s best.

Who is standing in your wake?
If you are married, what would your spouse be saying?
What are your friends, workmates or kids saying as they stand in your wake?

Note what One the profit bringer did: “… refreshed me…” (v.16) This is a great word which Paul uses here. It means “to cool off” or “to recover” from the effects of the heat. During this time of the year you can really feel what Paul is saying. We are all seeking refreshment on a hot day. I was down at Confederation Park the other day and one thing I noticed was how all the park benches in the shade were occupied. The sunny ones were vacant. People were even sitting on the ground, under the shade of the trees. Shade on a hot day attracts the crowds as they seek to be refreshed. One the profit bringer, in refreshing Paul, brought shade to Paul from the hot sun he was being exposed to as he served Christ. Paul is drawn to the “shade”, and gives thanks.

We don’t know exactly what One did for Paul but it is possible that One was wealthy and opened his home in Ephesus to provide “shade” for Paul while on his missionary journeys (see v. 18). How do you or could you use your resources to provide “shade” for people?

“(…) was not ashamed of my chains” (v.16)
At times when in prison, Paul would have been bound to a soldier. Note the contrast here: in v.15 Phygelus and Hermogenes ( I wonder if they had any nicknames - Phil and Herm) both abandoned Paul. Possibly they were afraid of the escalating risks of associating with Paul. Whatever the case, One did not become ashamed or fearful, but hung in there with Paul. One of the realities of demonstrating kindness, being a “profit bringer” is that there will be situations where you may be the only one bringing profit. For whatever reason everyone else walks by, ignores the need, deserts or abandons. To be a profit bringer can sometimes mean we stand alone. Perhaps this is why kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. We need divine strength, strength beyond ourselves, to move towards people who have “chains” that have caused other people to walk away.

What are “chains” today that can cause us to pull back on expressions of kindness?
  • Chains representing a past- a past that makes us fearful or judgmental of the person
  • Chains representing a particular lifestyle - their current practices we find appalling or unacceptable
  • Chains that represent our personal history with that person - our lives have crossed over in the past and there is a history of hurt and pain - they let us down so we now withhold kindness
  • Chains representing ethnicity - believe it or not even in Kingston, the color of someone’s skin can be a barrier
  • Chains representing… got another one?
You often see this in school yards but it reflects what can happen in adult school yards - the workplace, church etc.

“…he searched hard for me…” (v.17)
Again note the contrast. Phygelus and Hermogenes were on a mission of abandonment, One, though, was on a mission of engagement. This was not a leisurely stroll in the park looking around for someone random to whom he could provide shade. Note the language Paul uses, “searched hard for me until he found me”.

We talk about “random acts of kindness”, which is great: Unplanned, unexpected, a need pops up before you and because you are wired to God, you act - bring profit. We have all had these experiences.

But note that there is nothing random about this act of kindness. It is intentional, well thought out, planned for, with preparation involved. I believe that One is illustrating what it means to be led by the Spirit. God has laid Paul on his heart so when he goes to Rome, instead of going to the movies and then to the Keg afterwards for dinner ,he is walking the streets, knocking on doors, working his network, searching out Paul because God has laid Paul on his heart - nothing random about it! The last person he thinks about before falling asleep is Paul, the first person who comes to mind when he awakes is Paul - a profit bringer on a mission- sent by God and empowered by God to make a difference!

Has God ever laid someone on your heart like this?

My guess is that One was just what the doctor ordered for Paul to make it through this leg of his journey. Paul, in retelling this story to Timothy, underscores how important and meaningful One’s actions were for Paul when he was in Rome. I know that all of us could recount our story and think of a few people who, by their act of kindness, gave us the encouragement and resources we needed to face another day.

This week, try showing a little kindness. Be a profit bringer. By the way, guess what Onesiphorus’ name means? You got it – “profit bringer”. It wasn’t just what his name meant, but what his life came to represent. Might we follow in the steps of One who followed in the steps of the ultimate One demonstrating kindness beyond compare.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Touching Base! Part 133

Got any off-beat clappers in your life?

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Patience… now there is a topic we can’t cover too quickly! On Sunday we looked at the fourth trait of the fruit of the Spirit in our Punch series. We used three objects to help us define this word.

The Timer
The most common word for patience in NT comes from a compound of “long” (makros) and “temper” (thymos). In the OT, the concept is denoted by Hebrew ’ārēḵ, meaning ‘long’. The idea is to set the timer of one’s temper for a long run. We might be use to “5 minutes” but God might be asking for 30 minutes!

The Duck
Built into this idea of patience is endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance - to remain under something. So patience isn’t passivity, but rather properly-expressed activity. It may appear like someone is doing nothing but in actual fact lots of activity is going on. When you look at a duck in the water, it may appear that they are just sitting there but below the surface, hidden from human sight, their webbed feet are paddling.

The Metronome
Finally, as you look at the practice of patience in the Bible one comes to quickly realize that patience is about keeping in step with God’s timing. Patience can have the effect of a metronome - it is about keeping in sync, in step and being led by the Spirit in all of my encounters.

The big idea we looked at on Sunday was that patience involves living in a way that is, at times, contrary to my human spirit, but in step with the Holy Spirit.

In light of the above definitions consider the following questions:
  • Where/with whom do you need to set a longer timer?
  • Where/with whom do you need to keep paddling?
  • Where/with whom do you need to work on keeping in step with God’s metronome?

Let’s consider three applications of patience:

#1 With Others….. in leadership
When it came to leadership Paul expected leaders to be patient and he himself modeled patience. Check out 2 Tim 4:1,2, 2 Cor. 6:3,4 ). In one sense, we are all leaders. As parents we lead, as spouses we at times take the lead on certain issues, at the work place, in friendship. Think about the following statements and how they apply to your situation of practicing patience with people. Perhaps one of these statements will describe exactly how you are feeling in a particular relational situation.

  • Patience may mean not acting, not speaking (biting your tongue), not deciding.... YET - but giving space, allowing time to run its course.
  • Patience may mean that in acting, speaking and deciding you go about doing it with a patient tone, demeanor, saying what needs to be said but in a patient way.
  • Patience may mean releasing only so much information, or words of instruction. Dumping the whole mother lode might overwhelm.
  • Patience may mean giving up your way and letting someone do it their way.
  • Patience may mean letting someone “hang” themselves so that they might listen next time.
  • Patience may mean not abandoning even though it would be very easy to walk away.

When attempting to practice patience with people there are a number of factors that can rob us of patience.
  • Conflict with anger can quickly snatch this trait from us (check out Proverbs 15:18, James 1:19, Ecc. 7: 8,9)
  • How have you seen conflict steal away patience?
  • Made any wrong decisions because the conflict sabotaged your patience and you acted inappropriately?
  • What do you do to prepare for conflict so that you don’t lose your patience?

#2 With Myself
“Your nature is a hard thing to change; it takes time…. I have heard of people who have life-changing, miraculous turnarounds, people set free from addiction after a single prayer, relationships saved where both parties ‘let go, and let God.’ But it was not like that for me. For all that ‘I was lost, I am found,’ it is probably more accurate to say, ‘I was really lost. I'm a little less so at the moment.’ And then a little less and a little less again. That to me is the spiritual life. The slow reworking and rebooting the computer at regular intervals, reading the small print of the service manual. It has slowly rebuilt me in a better image. It has taken years, though, and it is not over yet.” —Bono, lead singer of U2

Perhaps the most difficult person in expressing patience towards is yourself. Our spiritual growth demands patience. It is only as we patiently walk with God, keep in step with the Spirit does He grow us and shape us. Check out Luke 8:5 and Romans 5:3,4

Patience is the companion that we need to become all God desires us to grow in to.
  • We fall - patience says we get up
  • We relapse - patience says we go at it again
  • We have a bad day - patience says tomorrow is a new start
  • We fail in a particular task - patience says we learn from the failure
  • We are a disaster in a relationship - patience says we own our piece, do the time for the crime - become wiser for next time.

A Chinese proverb says, “Patience is power; with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.” Ours is not the first generation to struggle with the frustrations of waiting. Patience is power because patience is partly what it means to live by the Spirit.

#3 With God
Ever felt God was out of sync?
Ever looked at the timer and said- how long Oh Lord must I be patient?
Ever felt like a duck- paddling, persevering and wondering- Where is all of this getting me?
Ever wished God’s metronome would speed up or slow down or.....?
Has exercising your patients with God ever resulted in complaining? Check out these complaints?
Ps 10:1,44:24,142:2

Our patience with God might not get God to do what we want Him to do but can result in God shaping us into the kind of person He wants us to become.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Touching Base! Part 132

Peace On Guard
Guest posting by Eric Prost

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Main Text: Philippians 4:7

Peace is sometimes defined as “the absence of war”. This is true. However, “peace”, in scripture, often means much more than this. It is an active word, full of meaning and impact, not merely the absence of something.

For example, read Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you”. This verse is not talking about the end of war but about peace as an attribute that God controls and gives to us.

Or read John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. This verse is certainly not talking about the absence of conflict or war. After Jesus returned to the Father, his followers experienced a lot of conflict and persecution. And yet he still promised peace.

Question: What then is this peace that God says is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22?

Question: Is it peace with God? (What other verses illuminate the idea of peace with God?)

It certainly includes this, and only followers of Christ with their sins forgiven can show the peace of Galatians 5. But could it mean more than the peace of knowing our sins are forgiven?

Question: Is it peace with others? (How is this crucial to leading a Christian life?)

It probably includes this, too. Pastor Mark taught on love two weeks ago and how that fruit of the Spirit should show in our community with others around us.

Question: Could peace mean even more than this though?

Peace as a concept – and a symbol – in the ‘60s and ‘70s was often countercultural and anti-establishment, a symbol of protest. The scriptural definition is not politicized and yet is more revolutionary than any opposition to the Vietnam War could create. The scriptural concept is richer, the bar raised much higher. It is nothing short of the idea of completeness and fulfillment that is total and profound.

Philippians 4:6-7 captures this: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Here’s what our 3 verses – Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27, Philippians 4:7 – show about this peace:
  1. It is sublime or transcendent – “perfect,” “transcends all understanding”.
  2. You need to trust in God to get it.
  3. God controls it and gives it – He is the one keeping us in perfect peace, leaving peace with us.
  4. Prayer is involved.
  5. Anxiety, worry, trouble will lose their power.
Question: Are there examples from real lives you know where these 5 attributes of peace have been illustrated? Does it ever seem too easy? Are there times when this peace eludes us completely?

The last attribute (#5) is extremely practical and is related to peace as a fruit, a behaviour and attitude, in the life of a Christian. The final image in Philippians 4:7 illustrates this. It is a fantastic irony in the verse: peace is described acting in a warlike or martial way. “To guard” in Greek has a military connotation. Peace is actively guarding our hearts and minds. Peace (of all the fruits!) is on high alert, in uniform, as a sentry, guarding your emotions and your thoughts, your personality, from fear and trouble.

The same peace that exists at the throne of God, the same peace of Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, is active and on duty.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact