Sermon Notes March 18th 2018: Freedom is for Freedom

Here are the notes from the sermon I preached at my young adults group this past Sunday!

Have you ever witnessed a friend or someone in your life just making a really poor decision and you just wanted to shake them because it seemed so obvious to you that what they were doing was wrong? That there was an easier, better way?

I think all of us at one point or another have probably been both at the receiving end of this– so the one doing something stupid that we’re blind to– and the one on the other end, wanting to shake understanding into someone.

About a month ago, I was making stovetop popcorn for my roomies, just having a nice night in and asked who wanted popcorn, wanted to do a nice thing and make a snack for everyone. And I start making the popcorn and then there’s oil dripping down the sides of the pot and the burner is starting to smell really bad and I’m kind of ignoring and before I know it there’s a little flame in the burner. And I’m freaking out and jumping up and down like and repeating, “Oh my gosh guys what do we do,” as if THAT’S going to do anything, and then my roommate Maddie comes over and takes the pot OFF the burner, opens the window, and turns the heat off and she’s literally like WOW, THAT WAS SO DIFFICULT.

“What was freaking out and flailing your hands gonna do, Cass?” my roommates laughed. To them, it was such a sensical solution and I just wasn’t thinking.

Or, how many of you can relate to the mom-or-grandma not knowing how to use social media? I’ll read my mom some Facebook messenger conversation and she’ll be like, “Cassie, you shouldn’t be sharing that stuff on Facebook!” And then I’ll have to explain to her that, No, Mom, the conversation is not being seen by the world, it’s private messenger. This just doesn’t make sense to her.

Or have you ever had a friend who’s blinded in a relationship? You see all the bad aspects of it, maybe they’re being hurt, maybe they’ve neglected some of their morals, maybe they’re obsessed with this other person and you just want to shake them and say “YOU DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER! Why are you putting yourself through this?”

Or maybe it’s a friend who you see such good things in, you admire in so many ways, and yet they’re down on themselves, not stepping into that full potential. Maybe skipping school a ton, or just not utilizing their work ethic to live in their full potential. It seems so clear to you how wonderful this person is, and it’s frustrating to be on the outside of a situation like that. When something is so clearly the right path, and someone near you can’t see it.

We’ve been working our way through the book of Ephesians at Vivid, which is a letter in the New Testament of the Bible, so the part after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and Paul has just finished talking about why we must uphold unity and peace as Christians. And then he goes on to say these words:


So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.


These serve as Paul’s instructions for that “right path.” We should no longer walk with futility, of course, when we know otherwise. Or, he says, we should no longer walk “as the Gentiles do,” the Gentiles being people who didn’t know the saving grace of God and His love for them.

As I was reading over this passage, I was reminded of a person and I didn’t know why. I didn’t know if it was a revelation of God, or if I was just distracted, or if I needed some humour in my life in the midst of exam season, but this person kept popping into my head.

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And I didn’t know why at first, but then realized– Chandler’s sarcasm makes him someone who states the obvious.

If you don’t know Chandler, he’s a character on a sitcom that started in the 90s, Friends. Chandler is the king of sarcasm, his jokes pointed at stating the obvious. Just check out this clip:

And then I figured out how all this linked to the book of Ephesians and Paul. What Paul is saying here to the church at Ephesus seemed so obvious to him that he says it later it in almost a dumbed down way:

GALATIANS 5:1 For freedom you were set free. 

…Um, well, for FREEDOM you were set free. This reads almost like a redundancy, doesn’t it?

…Um well, yeah, obviously freedom is the result of being set free.

So why, then, do we ever live slave to things?

We were set free for freedom! Not to be yolked again to slavery! Not to be in bondage to sadness, fear, addictions, worry, anxiety! Not to be a slave to the law! But to be FREE! When he writes here, many commentators read it in that he’s a little frustrated. As if saying, “I don’t get why you choose to live the way you do! The solution is so simple! Christ Jesus is who you’re made to live for!” He feels the need to state the obvious because what should be obvious is not evident in the way people are living.

It’s like what Chandler Bing would do if he was making a sandwich and Joey asked him, “are you making that to eat?”

“Oh, no, I was actually gonna throw it in the garbage.”

Comparing that to if someone asked you, as a Christian, “Were you set free to be free?”
“Oh no,” so many of us say, the world wants us to say, “I was set free to be yolked to comparison, gluttony, idolizing, depression, and fear.”

I think in regard to these words, it’s important that we reflect on our current position. In any sense, all of us are in one of a few places:

  1. Never heard of this amazing life with Jesus and putting off of the old self, or haven’t invited Him to truly rule our lives;
  2. We have accepted Jesus and are living with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and are maybe very convicted of a sensual sort of living
  3. Are living in harmony with the Spirit, repenting, knowing He is the refuge for sin and sensual living, etc.

Now the obviousness that Paul is stating here is not to dumb down or neglect struggles. Or to say a struggle with mental illness isn’t valid, or with bouts of worry aren’t valid. God sees those struggles, friend, but the thing is He doesn’t want to leave you there! See the God that came to us in Jesus is a miracle-worker, and He is going to be so good in that struggle and just asks you to have faith, and come to Him. So really To know that, even if you’re not LIVING in that freedom in this moment, IT IS freedom that God died for you for, and He’s going to bring you there. Faith that that freedom exists.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that dies down quickly to colloquialisms, almost like you’re grasping at straws for what you’re trying to say? Like when you’re talking about balancing work and school and a social life and sleep and you’re conversing about that very thing with a friend and end up at “yeah, it’s such a balance.”

That “balance” we all talk about, I want to argue, is this perfect harmony that is Jesus, God made perfect in a human. And we have the notion that living with such a balance IS possible…

If we’re living with these convictions we sometimes just feel far from God and decide not to talk to Him because we don’t want to. But every encounter we have with His Spirit that seemed hard always ends up being amazing. And life-changing, right?

This perfect, balanced God is right with us through His Spirit, and wants to come into relationship with us.

And the thing we miss in “trying” to achieve this balance is the real thing worthwhile: stepping into conversation with Him rather than plunging along in our own way. Talking to Him with faith that every time we do, He’s going to guide and change us. Meeting Him in His Word, and engaging through faith in the Truth that He will change us.

And Paul paints that so perfectly in his next words about how to do what he’s talking about:

Ephesians 4:20-23

Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

We’re not meant to do this alone. We’re meant to allow Him to have the reigns. We’re meant to submit to a higher power, and trust Him.

When we know that His Truth is THE TRUTH, that futility Paul talked about, of living selfishly, becomes a convicted way of living. His Truth eradicates other truths that have tried to take the throne in our lives.

Some of these are sneaky, like the doctrine of social media that says, “I’m only justified by the most perfect looking Instagram feed.” or the doctrine of progression that says, “I need to do better. I need to be better.” or the doctrine of reliability that says, “I need a relationship to be happy.” or the doctrine of lust that says, “I need to consume this, or veg out, to be happy.”

And in encountering this freedom, sometimes what we miss is thinking we need to display the freedom alone. But God-intended living is not self-autonomous. We were never, from the beginning of everything, meant to do any of life alone. It’s possible to get tossed about, then, by many different teachings, different presentations of who or what is the very purpose of our lives. But that’s when we have the solid Word of God, and His own Spirit, to align us with what is right.

And here’s the thing: “we can’t store up that intimacy with Him.” –Heidi Baker

He will change your heart. He will be so intimate with you. Help you to love, and to live to serve. Guide you into the Truth you were created to live for, and debunk lies that called you to live otherwise. We come to WANT nothing more than to put off the old self, and put on Him. He set us free, FOR FREEDOM, after all.

Let’s pray, and ask God what LIES He’s calling us to be free from. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t align with His Word, maybe His Spirit is stirring something up in you about the way you’ve been living. But when we come to God with these things He DOES change us. And sometimes community helps with accountability in actually doing that. So I’m gonna pray now, and then I would invite you to ask the Spirit a lie you’ve been believing, and what might be untrue about it and to start debunking that.



What Actually Matters: Reminded By A Starbucks Barista

I have worked for Starbucks for almost two years now.

My friend, more like a brother to me, Kevin. We met working at Starbucks, even though he doesn’t work at my store!  

I remember when I was first called and told that I got the job. I was on my way to meet Johnny’s parents when my assistant manager called and told me I was hired! To many friends, it seemed like a strange job to be so excited about, but I had wanted to work at Starbucks since I was a little girl.

Since I was 13, and a barista gave me free food at the end of her shift and chatted with me for half an hour about Christianity, even though it meant she got out of work late.

Since I went to my most frequent Starbucks and every barista knew me by name, cared about me and my life, and showed genuine interest in getting to know me.

Since I first tried a soy caramel latte, and started learning about espresso, and the mission of Starbucks.


I’m passionate about the company and its mission, but, like any job, sometimes it becomes routine.

Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field, And the fertile field is considered as a forest. ISAIAH 32:15

Sometimes, I sacrifice getting to know a customer, or listening to a co-worker, out of stress to get a cleaning task done.

I have thought more about getting home and done work in time to finish an assignment than connecting with the souls that come in and out of our store.

And why? It’s those shifts that I remember, that I’m passionate about, and that I feel called to. And, when these connections happen genuinely, they are never because “I set my mind to it,” but because I gave the shift to the Lord and said, God, give me Your eyes. Don’t let me be like “Martha,” worried about getting the mundane things done. Give me a Heavenly mindset to see the eternal and important things. To see each soul in my midst the way You do, as precious children of You.

I was reminded of the way the Lord wants to use me at Starbucks tonight, as I worked a shift at a different store from my own. The shift supervisor was a man named Ryan, and we had such a fun shift together. Every once in a while, he checked up on me to see if there was anything he could do for me, to make me feel more comfortable, or to help me out. He served customers as though that person in front of him was the only thing on his mind. He truly worked in such a servant manner, and took the time to converse and get to know me, too. AND at the end of the night, refused to let me take the bus home, and gave me a ride.

He lived not for himself throughout that shift, but for the people around him.

When we live for God, the Holy Spirit provides that awareness of the love for others around us.

So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 1 CORINTHIANS 11:20-21

Righteous living means Cassie is out of the picture. Cassie wants the Lord to be seen– and, He has so taught me, living in Him ends up looking like serving and loving others joyfully. It means a lot of smiles, laughs, and “no worries” about the little things. He has a lot of love to spread, and His amazing love means I want to spend time in prayer, time at His feet to get to know Him and His plans for me and those around me.

Thank-you, barista Ryan, for the way you loved and served tonight. You reminded me that “rule-based” work is not righteous work.

I pray that we are all able to live our lives submitted to the amazing Holy Spirit of Jesus who wants to do amazing things through us– things that matter eternally.


Other People First– Actually

University is busy. And it’s hard work. 

If I wanted to do all the readings I’m assigned for school, I would be reading every second of every day. But I’ve figured out how to read what I need to– on top of work, being with friends, down time, sleep, and daily life necessities.

I’m not trying to create a sob story, and I recognize that every student feels this– I love my school and studies, my job, and my life, and know that I am so so blessed beyond belief to have these resources and opportunities. But what I am realizing is that when busyness becomes routine and becomes ordinary and becomes what I know, I find ways for it to work that turn relationships into things that need to be scheduled, out of genuinely, of course, wanting to see friends and caring about them, but getting used to only having snippets of time to see people, and thus friendships being reduced to “appointments” in a sense.

This is not okay, ever.

Because a busy university season turns into a busy career season and my social life is not “my social life” in the way other people fit into “my life.” All other people have lives and journeys and struggles and triumphs and I want in every sense to put those above my own.

And yesterday, during worship at Creekside, the Lord spoke a huge, loving conviction over my heart.

I’m setting you even more free than you think you are now. There’s so much MORE freedom for you to enter into.

And he gave me a picture of that looking like other people’s lives and needs and my love for Him trumping routines, and His Spirit ITSELF making relationships that put the other person first, because that’s all His Spirit does. He doesn’t indulge in Himself, He doesn’t obsess over and idolize any part of His own life, He just loves on every one in His creation, and that love comes from the Father. And that Love instructs me, as His Spirit is within me.

And He doesn’t ask me to do it alone. Even though some habits in my life are selfish and unlike His heart, He will debunk those when I let Him. And He spoke to my heart without my asking for it. He is such a Father and such a Friend.

And then Pastor Nat went into his sermon, and spoke exactly about what Jesus had been preparing my heart to hear: Jesus heart is that our relationships would put the other person first. That is where Joy is. And I can access His Spirit at ALL TIMES to love others, to care genuinely for their lives, and to know how precious they are. 

then make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambitionor empty pride, but in humility consider othersmore important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. PHILIPPIANS 2:2-4

And He prepared my heart in reminder of what I’ve always known to be second most important to relationship with Him, that being unconditional love of all His children. His sacrificial love is the best example of that. And He meets us all right where we’re at, and helps me to do the same.

So today, having coffee with my beautiful friend Morgan, who God has so preciously brought into my life, I wanted so genuinely to get lost in her life, to know how she’s been feeling, and to understand her truly. And I am so excited to be a part of her life. I know this is His heart for ALL my friendships, that I would care and invest in every person as He does.

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Lord, give me Your Spirit and Strength to love and serve others. Continue to teach me the ways of Your heart that are FOR all people, and show me more every day the ENDLESS JOY that is in loving and caring for others– no agenda, not for any reason but their joy and Your glory. Amen.


One Regret?

Do you ever think about how different your life might be without technology?

How much better it might be?

Maybe “better” isn’t the right word. How much… more natural? Less noisy? More compassionate?

Today, I bid a very emotional goodbye, yet again, to Johnny. We’ll see each other again in less than two months, but it is always, without fail, difficult to say goodbye. There are so many emotions in seeing the person I love walk away to a life that I am miles away from.

Our time together this week we were both so grateful for. It was so precious to be able to meet Johnny’s friends, see his school, and just have time with him.

On my plane ride home, I was again struck by the beauty of the earth beneath me to the point of being unwilling to do any sort of reading or homework. Teary-eyed, I watched the world– from snow-covered plains to shimmery, deep-blue waves glistening with sun sparkles, to completely urbanized cities, blocks of buildings, and itty bitty cars. And I was struck with a little thought:

If there is one thing I could possibly regret about this trip, it’s any moment I chose my phone or social media– the fake, glamorized world– over a person in the real one. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way our society has taught us to shun boredom. We don’t know how to sit still, and yet sitting still is the perfect opportunity to talk to the Lord. We don’t know how to ride the bus without scrolling through Instagram. We break “awkward silences” by checking our phones. If a conversation is dying, it can be made dead by one person’s decision to choose Pinterest instead. Conversations can be centred around jealousy or lust based on the picture someone posted. And our brains, memories, and attention spans are all less sharp as a result. The addictiveness of social media and therefore self-exaltation is scarily prevalent.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Even in just cuddling with Johnny, I chose scrolling through my Instagram sometimes over squeezing his hand tighter, or telling him I love him, or maybe making him laugh, or praying with him. Any time I choose “vegging” through temporary and wasteful technology, the Lord is waking me up to– I literally choose brain-frying, and time-wasting.

Now, every time I am about to go to Instagram or any sort of technology, I am going to stop myself and take that time to pray instead, Lord help me. Any ten minutes spent scrolling on Instagram is a given waste of time– maybe even joy-stealing. Any ten minutes spent talking to the perfect Creator of the Universe, my Father and God who loves me more than I can imagine? What an opportunity!

Lord, I choose you, every day. Help me to have this attitude, expectant for Your revealing work in my life, for Your life-giving Spirit, and Your guidance. Debunk guilt and teach me joy in You– real Joy! 

My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

The best chocolate chip cookies are:

  • Extra chocolate chippy
  • Extra soft
  • Not too crunchy

And I have a few secrets for achieving that:

  • Extra chocolate chips
  • Margarine instead of butter
  • Extra brown sugar

This morning after finishing packing to head to Winnipeg to visit my boyfriend for spring break, I made these cookies for my roommates and his (him too, I guess😉), and my breakfast may have been cookie dough as a result ;).

Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup margarine

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In separate bowl, cream together margarine with both sugars until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla and egg, and beat well. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture, and mix well with wooden spoon until combined. Drop dough two inches apart in heaping spoonfuls on prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake in preheated oven 10-12 minutes, until edges are just golden brown and middle is set. Cool 1-2 minutes on tray before moving to wire rack to cool completely.

I Have One Thirst

27624758_1791344877839046_652935520258848206_o“Isn’t it amazing the way God choreographs little meetings? He’s so intentional with us. And it’s all so that we would know that knowing Him is everything in this life.”

I had the privilege of attending a church I’d never been to before with my co-worker and sister-friend, Kayla, yesterday, called Jubilee.

There I was welcomed and ministered to, captivated by God’s presence in a manner that is beyond words and thus, as I’m learning, not worth trying to put to words. As an English major who inherently sees words, both written and spoken, as a way of life, I’m realizing just how much I tend to attempt to describe things. Everything. I’m also learning to listen, to the Lord, to those around me, and even to silence.

I met one of Kayla’s friends, who spoke to me about the way God so masterfully plans for His glory and our understanding. The master of the universe doesn’t “puppet” us and then stand back to watch. No He is so very much here, and where He is, there is such life.

I was so grateful for the encounter I had with God yesterday. He taught me some very personal things when I just sat in His presence, convicting and changing me– literally moving me to dance in His presence in my little kitchen on Uni Ave.

To last night, where the young adults ministry I serve at had a service like we’ve never had before, in which we just worshipped and prayed. Time seemed stuck but also to fly by as we gave Jesus the space; submitted to His plan. He filled me with peace about not being “on it,” but just listening.

Suddenly a woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak. She said to herself, “If only I touch His cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take courage, daughter,” He said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was cured from that very hour.… Matthew 9:20-22

And He’s here. His robe, maybe not, but His presence just as vibrant. If we but stand in His presence in faith, we will be healed, changed…

Give me faith, God.

We stepped out in the faith in a collective way, for Jesus alone, and some beautiful things happened.


We had a moment of prayer groups in which one of the people I prayed with spoke about knowing He needed to give more prayer time to God, yearning to be devoted, but being so busy with school and studying. I prayed over his seeing and knowing Jesus as not just his Father but his Friend… that this was a trusting relationship like none other, and that life could actually be a constant conversation with Jesus.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

And God showing me MORE of Him, that His goodness and Truth and fervour exists always, putting this song on my heart… I yet had the Monday struggle this morning where routine and impending responsibilities tried to trump themselves as truth.

“The mundane isn’t even mundane,” God faithfully whispered, “There’s joy untold in it. Press on toward the Mark.”

Lord, may I live to serve you, expectant of Your MIRACLES and Your literally EARTH SHAKING presence, the laughter you bring in me dancing in the streets, awake. Always. In every circumstance might I give you the thanks and praise.

Blending vs. Standing Out

The world gives us two different messages simultaneously, portrayed in our faces in different ways every day.

Some encourage us to blend in:


Others, to stand out: 


Ultimately, neither message comes from the root of any basis of Truth, but only the allure of temporary satisfaction in being accepted– for either one of two opposite behaviours: blending in, or standing out.

The issue in both of these worldly methods is the same: they are aimed in exalting oneself, focusing on oneself, and living for oneself. 

 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. PHIL 3:8-10

I remember, in middle school, wanting my own uniqueness to shine so badly. I thought trends were dumb. I wanted to be different, to stand out from the crowd. So, in seventh grade, I would wear my dance costumes to school– right down to the candy man striped dress from a tap dance. Yuuuppp.

A few years later, I started to care a lot more what people thought of the way I looked and dressed. So I changed my whole wardrobe, wearing what was in style, rather than what I felt comfortable in a lot of the time.

I definitely personally preferred those clothes. I hadn’t even liked the “style” I had been trying to pull off in middle school, but rather wearing those clothes was all about standing out.

Still, for a while in high school, I could say I wore what I wore so that I would fit in.

I enjoy clothes, and have a passion for fashion. I like getting dressed up, and I love coordinating outfits and my wardrobe. But no longer that I would be seen, but simply as a hobby, and out of care for myself.

The more I look to Christ, knowing that HE is my all in all, the more I know that I don’t want to blend in this world… or stand out in this world… I want to fade into the background, Jesus to be this whole world, and know that it’s when I’m found in Him that my life is more than dust. 

He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 10:39

Furthermore, Lord, help me never to attempt to “blend You” into my selfish existence, for I know this is a laughable thought. You are in control, and so the only way to live my life is in giving it entirely to You. Use me. 

He is teaching me what life looks like when He is my head, my centre, and my best friend. The God of the universe is pretty good at teaching, and at loving me even when I fail.

Be in me, Lord! Love through me, Lord!