What should it profit a man if he should gain beer for a buck but lose his soul?

By the Rev. Ken McClure

This past week our provincial government introduced a bill into legislation intended to provide the good people of Ontario with beer for a buck.  

So far with this government, we have lost the basic income program pilot—a program which has proven to improve the quality of life of those who need it most, yielding the accompanying societal benefits of more people living well. We lost that, but we have beer for a buck.

There has been a noticeable erosion in this government’s commitment to democratic principles, with assaults on local and regional governments and elections in an effort to chip away at the value of our vote, and therefore the impact of our voice. All of this has happened without public consultation, but we have beer for a buck. 

We are experiencing more severe forms of weather at an increasing rate, something which is directly attributable to the human impact on our environment, and yet our government has repealed cap and trade on emissions. [The cap-and-trade system aimed to lower greenhouse gas emissions by putting caps on the amount of pollution companies in certain industries can emit—Ed.] At a time when we need to be doing more our government is trying to do less, but we have beer for a buck.

Now don't get me wrong, I have no moral objection to this because it's beer. I myself have been known to pop the top off of a nice cool one on a hot night, but I've read enough about the Romans to know when bread and circuses are being dangled to distract the masses. Remember, there was a period when we Christians were the fuel for the circuses:  we were thrown to the beasts and brutes of the arena! As was then is now, and Caesars will do what Caesars do.  

Thankfully there's little risk that I’m going to be tossed to the lions for thinking, acting, and speaking (or writing in this case) like a Christian. As the people of God we are the stewards of creation, and the keepers of each other. We are formed by God, called by Christ, and empowered by the Spirit to perform these tasks. As much as I may enjoy some tasty suds after a hard day's work, I don't want to get them cheaper as a bribe to ignore what's being done in my name.

And so for every case of beer I buy I intend to donate any money our government has laboriously saved me to the 4Cs here in town ($10 for Every 24, $5 for Every 12, $2.50 for a 6 pack). I encourage anyone else reading this to find an organization that supports people or the planet, and do the same.

Our government may ignore the sacred moral obligation we all have to care for the earth and each other, but we shouldn't—no matter how hard they try to distract us.

Sizzling Summer Service 9: Hallelujah Haliburton!

Since beginning to work on her message for the annual Service in the Park, Anne confessed to having had an old song scrolling around her brain. “I’m a stranger here” by the Five-Man Electrical Band, first appeared on their album  ‘Sweet Paradise’.

lakeside baptist church musicians and singers

lakeside baptist church musicians and singers

She read its first verse:

“Well, I'm a stranger here in this place called Earth
And I was sent down here to discover the worth
Of your little blue planet, third from the sun
Come on and show me what you've done.”

The song goes on to lament how earth’s residents had roundly messed up their ‘paradise’. The words led perfectly into an elaboration on the verses from Ephesians read earlier in the service (Eph. 2:1-22) by David Lloyd of the Lighthouse Church.

There, the apostle Paul points out to the church in Ephesus their once messy, sinful lives. Then, including himself, he wrote:  “We tried to satisfy what our sinful nature wanted to do. We followed its longings and thoughts” (v.3).

In fact, the whole Bible tells the story, over and over, of humanity tending to pull back when God reaches out. We do our own thing, run away, miss the mark.  “But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. So He gave us new life because of what Christ has done” (v. 4-5).

 "One way!"   bev hicks and anne moore lead the kids in their charge to the crowd

 "One way!"   bev hicks and anne moore lead the kids in their charge to the crowd

As Bev Hicks of Northland Faith Church had the children remind us earlier, “God's grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift” (v. 8). 

 “So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are members of God’s family,” verse 19 goes on to triumphantly remind us.

This brought to mind for many of us the family of Syrian refugees we’re ready and waiting for. Will we be able to help them feel like members of our community, help them heal from the hurts and fears of feeling unwanted and alien in their own country? We all pray we can share the love of Christ effectively with them.

lakeside Baptist church holds several baptisms in the lake after the service!

lakeside Baptist church holds several baptisms in the lake after the service!

The ‘I’m a stranger here’ song ends with these words:

"We got the rivers and the mountains and the valleys and the trees
We got the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea
We got the ―
Oh, you crazy fools!
Don't you know you had it made?
You were living in paradise
                                                          [photo credit: Elaine Figueroa]

                                                          [photo credit: Elaine Figueroa]

But take it from one who knows
Who knows the gates of Heaven can close
I only pray that you take my advice
'Cause paradise won't come twice"

Finding peace with God, only possible by becoming a friend and follower of Jesus, is beyond remarkably easy. Have  a simple conversation with God (that’s prayer). First, tell Him you’re sorry for the things you’ve thought and done wrong. Ask for His forgiveness. Then thank Him, and ask that His Holy Spirit would live in you forever.

Welcome to the family!