Our community is growing. If you’ve driven around the north end of Cambridge with your eyes open – hopefully you do that – or read the Cambridge Times recently, that’s an obvious fact. read more
Our community is growing…
Back to School
Tomorrow morning I’m heading back into the classroom for the first time since graduating from Bible college in 2009 and I cannot wait. Last year we applied on behalf of the church to a graduate certificate being offered for the first time at Heritage Seminary, the Graduate Certificate in Church Health and Evangelism. You can watch the short video below to hear president Rick Reed talk about the program. You can also read more about the program on the Heritage website.
Having been accepted to the program, over the course of the next 15 months I’ll be in the classroom five different times, and outside of these times focusing on assignments and projects that have a direct bearing on our local church and surrounding community. The thought of learning and being able to immediately and directly apply what is being taught is incredibly appealing. Being able to bring others along for the ride is a wise component and will strengthen our church in multiple ways. Getting a foot in the door of a Masters degree is also a wonderful asset.
The program begins tomorrow with The Disciple Making Church. Here’s a brief description:
There is a lot of talk about making disciples in church leadership circles but what does that really mean? The typical church may do a good job at building believers but struggle with what it means to equip workers. Even more difficult is developing strategies to reach the lost. If conversion is a key marker of health then many of our churches are failing badly. How do you, as a leader, create an environment conducive to making disciples? Furthermore, because the life of a church is full, gauging how well your church is doing is like checking the oil on a speeding car: it is difficult to gauge the health of something as organic as a church. This course will assist leaders in bringing clarity to the discipleship process and help us to do what Jesus asked us to do—seek the lost, build believers and equip workers. This course will also focus on methods of measuring church health in authentic ways that do not rely on business models nor turn the church into a corporate enterprise.
I’ll be in class all day Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and I’m delighted to have Pastor Caleb join me. Originally, Wes Bright was all in for joining us too, but due to a family situation is no longer able. His involvement in our Awana program, high school youth ministry, and his unashamed approach to sharing the gospel with co-workers and peers make him a man we want to invest in as a church. At some point in the future we’ll plan to do just that. Instead, this time around, one of our life group leaders, Betty-Anne, is able to attend last minute. Discipleship is one of her passions making this a great fit.
One emphasis of those who have developed the program, and the main reason for writing this, is for the purpose of prayer. In the application process they have asked the church to commit to asking the Lord to work in and through what is being taught, being convinced with the psalmist, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it are labouring in vain.” Pastor Caleb has already communicated with Life Group leaders about the program to ask for prayer, and we’ll keep you updated on what’s happening, when it’s happening, and who the other churches are that are involved.
Would you labour with us in prayer so that together, as the Spirit leads, we would see people forever transformed as we seek to walk worthy of the gospel as a church?
A Year End Prayer
As I’m up to my typical New Year’s Eve music listening, family missing, reflecting on the the last 12 months and anticipating the flipping of the calendar, I thought I’d share a prayer worth reading in these last hours of 2015. Enjoy!
O Love beyond Compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.
The Death of Prayer Meetings
Last week I posted an article from Reformation21.org on the importance of the church gathering to pray. In response to this, Mark Jones has written another great article with some pastoral musings as to why the call to pray together with the local church goes largely unheeded. You may feel smacked around a little by reading it but I hope you’ll take the time to do so. And, if you happen to be in your 20 somethings, you’ll find wonderful push back against the idea that, in order to be ‘real’, you should only do something in service to God when you feel like it.
Why is praying together as a church so important?
Last summer, during the months when our Sunday school wasn’t “officially” running, we aimed to take the 45 minutes between 9:30-10:15 for the church to gather to pray. Incredibly, while only focusing on evangelism, we never ran out of requests to bring before our gracious God. There was tremendous blessing and encouragement to hear of the many ways our brothers and sisters were engaging with their co-workers, friends, family members, and neighbours.
We plan on doing the same again this year so we will be regularly encouraging you and inviting you to join together in corporate prayer. In light of that here’s a great article from reformation21.org highlighting some of the reasons why as elders we constantly make that appeal: Why is the central prayer gathering so important? Reading this may provide some groundwork for why we will make such a big deal about the church praying together!
Praying for a Nation
As I write this, volunteers are currently working into the wee hours of the night to count votes that will determine the future of the country of Scotland. Being born (and mostly raised there) I’ve been following closely all day long, including watching Scottish television online to await the results. I’ve also prayed for the land of my birth, as I do for the one I am now a citizen of, however, as the Scottish Referendum has come closer, I haven’t been praying as I should have. My cousin sent me the following article, written by James Witherspoon, with excellent thoughts as to the importance of the eternal, and not just temporal, condition of a nation. It’s copied below should you wish to read it for yourself. We should think and pray this way for Canada too… read more
Persecution in Iraq
A letter from C.H. Spurgeon to Arthur Layzell
Below is a transcript of a letter written by Charles Spurgeon to Arthur Layzell, George Layzell’s father. It refers to a prayer meeting where Arthur’s father, a pastor, was praying for his son. The picture is the copy of the actual letter, which hangs in the Heritage Library. I knew that it existed but hadn’t actually ever read it until last week. George (one of our church members) has given permission for me to share it here so that you can read it for yourself. I thought it would be particularly appropriate with Father’s Day upon us to celebrate the blessing of a dad who was deeply concerned with the salvation and spiritual well-being of his children. As always, Spurgeon writes with beauty and passion. At the top, in tiny writing are the words “O Lord, bless this letter.” Enjoy! read more
Praying During Ramadan
Ramadan starts today. You’ve probably heard the term. Maybe you even know a little bit about it. Maybe you have some Muslim friends or neighbours who have mentioned it. In the event that you have no clue what Ramadan is all about, here’s a brief explanation, followed by a call to action. read more
Living By Prayer
Here is another rich and full prayer from the puritans, found in The Valley of Vision. Perhaps you are irregular in prayer, perhaps you don’t see the need to pray, or perhaps you don’t know where to start. This might just be the place. Language has been updated a little… read more