Songs for Groaning Souls

Last year was difficult in some respects in our home as around 100 days were impacted by sickness, 20 of which involved hospital stays, not to mention doctors appointments, tests, filling prescriptions, and administering medication. Some days were truly exhausting as we tried to care for the responsibilities God has given us in the midst of a harder season of life. read more

Advocating for Small Groups

Have you thought about joining a Life Group? read more

Reformation Reading Challenge

As 2017 marks 500 years since the Reformation (Luther nailing the 95 Theses on the Castle Church door at Wittenberg; October 31, 1517) read more

The Gospel Project

Now that the countdown to Christmas and 2017 is behind us, we’ve moved on to a third countdown we’ve been anticipating: the launch of The Gospel Project. What is The Gospel Project? read more

The Advent Conspiracy Calendar

I love chocolate. Seriously. I could eat at least one chocolate bar every day and I’m in the camp of people who believe it should be a designated food group with recommended daily servings. On that note, being a kid again in December would be amazing, when it’s totally acceptable to wake up first thing in the morning, scramble downstairs, open an advent calendar and eat chocolate before breakfast. I think I’ll be glaring at my kids for the next 24 days. If they wouldn’t tell people I had my own I’d buy one, but they would, and that would just be embarrassing, so I’ll let the kids be kids and I’ll be an adult.

Instead, as parents we’re leaning on Advent Conspiracy for an adding an extra advent calendar to our home this year: the advent conspiracy calendar.

What’s Advent Conspiracy, you ask? Here’s the explainer video.

To help with this their website has some great resources for churches and kids, which can easily be adapted for individuals and adults. Their advent calendar is a list of daily activities that are God and others’ centred, including reading passages of Scripture, singing songs together for family worship, services opportunities inside and outside of the home, reaching out to others who are hurting, lonely or in need of help, and so on. On four of the days they provide some devotional material to work through that teaches the 4 tenets of advent conspiracy: spend less, give more, love all, worship fully.

As a family, we plan to have heaps of fun, enjoy the company of friends and family, exchange modest gifts, eat delicious food (including chocolate), listen to lots of music, and watch a Christmas movie or two. But at the same time, we want to be intentional about advent to ensure that the celebration of the birth of our King is not swallowed up in selfishness or consumerism. We want to wonder anew at the gift of God in the coming of His Son, and have the servant attitude of Christ by loving others as He has loved us.

Why don’t you take a look at the calendar, adapt where you need to, and engage in some advent conspiracy this Christmas?

Our community is growing…

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

Trick or Retreat? (Round 3)

 

For a few years we’ve been using Halloween as best as possible to engage people who, more or less uninvited, walk down our driveway and knock on our front door. Not too late to make preparations on how you spend October 31st this year. This all started from reading a fantastic article about Halloween by David Mathis three years ago, after Halloween.  It’s way better than this one so you might want to just go read it instead.  Afterwards I realized I’d missed an opportunity.  The reason?  One night each year the community comes out of their homes, into the streets, and walks right up to you front door.  Uninvited.  It’s fantastic! The question: how will they be greeted when they get there? read more

Church Family Letter

Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while. These were Jesus’ words to weary apostles in response to the work report they had given him when they returned from a ministry assignment. The need for this is explained by Mark: For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. So, they went away in a boat to a desolate place by themselves (Mark 6:31-32). These are soothing words to read, for in them we recognize that Jesus understood the need of quiet, solitude, and rest. Many times he demonstrated his own desire to be alone in prayer with his Father amidst the expectations of people as he ministered to them. In this, we too are encouraged and permitted to withdraw for the sake of body, mind, heart, and soul. I do hope that over the summer you were refreshed with some time off, or away, to especially be still and know that God is God. The Lord was certainly gracious to grant this to my family, for which we are grateful.

With the last few days of summer upon us, we know that rest and relaxation are not a permanent state. In fact, the disciples realized this all too well, for Mark records that by the time their boat reached their destination, it had been transformed into an overcrowded beach. So much for vacation! Yet, Jesus’ response is compelling, inspiring, and beautiful. Mark writes, When he went ashore he saw the great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things (Mark 6:34). When evening came, he fed them miraculously with the fish and the loaves. While we all need downtime, we must return to the great work Christ has called all of us to, namely, making disciples of all nations as we seek to walk worthy of the gospel. And so, with this in mind, it seemed appropriate to provide a ministry update for the Fall.

As pastors, we are thrilled at the prospect of beginning a new preaching series in the gospel of John, entitled That We May Believe. This, of course, is taken from John 20:31, where the apostle states the reason for his account: These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. [Hint: you should probably memorize this. There will be a test.] We look forward to fixing our eyes on Jesus as we preach our way through this biblical book. We would encourage you to get reading! At the same time, we’re excited to test drive a Q&A session shortly after our morning services. This will give Christians and non-Christians alike opportunity to ask the preacher questions that arise from listening to the sermon, and almost certainly keep us on our toes in the process. There will be a prize for whoever stumps Pastor Roger first.

On Sunday evenings I will be teaching a short four-week series entitled Real Deal Zeal. I hope and pray you will come because we need to be challenged in the ways our apathy for God plague and cripple us. Are we really, truly satisfied with our fire and passion for God, for His glory, and for the spread of His fame at home and abroad? More importantly, is God? Could any of us honestly answer yes? I know that Sunday evening services are not a priority that everyone commits to but I would challenge you to change that for at least four weeks (Sept 18th & 25th; Oct 2 & 16), especially if you are a ministry leader. What better way could you spend those hours than by considering with us what God thinks of spiritual apathy, his call to repent, what real zeal is, how we cultivate zeal, and what it looks like in all of life? Can you imagine what our lives, our marriages, our families, our work, our love, our evangelism, our sacrifice, and our church would look like if we submitted to the Holy Spirit for the stoking and sustaining of greater zeal in each of us? I pray that the prospect of this would intrigue you enough to join us. May the Lord breed holy discontent among us so that we would have “one pure and holy passion to know and follow hard after him.”

In a different vein, we would covet your prayers as we plan to gather as elders in the fall. We will be spending a day away together again to pray and evaluate the ministry of our church. As I continue to be challenged, poked, and prodded through the seminary courses in the Church Health and Evangelism certificate, there is much to consider. Here are two questions for you to ponder that give a small taste of what my mind is chewing on these days. First, what does a disciple of Jesus Christ look like? Second, how are people becoming and growing as disciples of Jesus Christ through the ministry of Hespeler Baptist Church?  Answering these biblically has less to do with the quantity of our activity and more to do with the quality of our activity. In other words, how does all that we do align with the church’s mandate to make disciples? This is what we look forward to digging into together for an evening in September and a full day in October. Please pray for that we would seek the wisdom of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit!

Speaking of activity, there are many ministry opportunities for you to engage in over the course of the Fall, Winter, and Spring. Sunday school for all ages begins on September 11th. As kids continue with the Desiring God curriculum, adults will be kicking off with an update from Teresa before she heads back overseas to the mission field. Afterwards, Mike Putt will lead us through a study on justification by faith alone. Between now and January, you’re going to start hearing about an exciting new venture in Sunday School called The Gospel Project. Pastor Caleb and Jared Patus have been working hard over the summer to breathe new life and vision into what we believe is a vital ministry. I would also encourage you to prayerfully consider joining a Life Group for the purpose of greater opportunity to keep the many one another commands of the New Testament, and for accountability in your walk with Christ. Beyond these, I trust you will keep your eyes and ears peeled for additional ministry endeavours that will get underway.

Amidst the return of routine and the excitement of sinking my teeth into a new ministry year, most of all, I’m looking forward to all of us being together again. There is always a sweet joy when vacations and travels end and everyone winds back up in the same place. I especially look forward to that first Sunday after the long weekend to lift my voice with yours to the praise of God’s glorious grace, even as we humble ourselves under His Word. To help us realize the blessing of belonging to the family of God in a different setting, Bob and Kendra Kallonen will be hosting the church family on their property on Saturday, September 17th. I hope you’ll mark that date and take time to gather with your brothers and sisters so that we can catch up with each other.

Until then, grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

With love,

Sean

Too Close to Home

Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20-21

 

Justice is turned back,

and righteousness stands far away;

for truth has stumbled in the public

squares,

and uprightness cannot enter.

Truth is lacking,

and he who departs from evil makes

himself a prey. – Isaiah 59:14-15

 

Several weeks ago I learned of another instance where the verses above have played out once more in our own culture. By all means, this happens on a daily basis, but this particular instance stood out because it comes very close to home. Recently, one of our parents in our congregation told me that his son, in grade 3, was taught, in the classroom of his public school, that boys could marry boys and that girls could marry girls. Same-sex relationships were normalized and legitimized by an authority figure, in a room, with a group of young and impressionable minds.  read more

The most important pursuit is…

If you have never picked up one of John Piper’s little books in the Swans are Not Silent series you’re missing out. Each one contains three vignettes on different individuals throughout the history of the church, from which you can learn about the life of another in an extremely accessible way. They would make for good summer reading and would bring you up to speed on names you may have heard but know nothing about, such as William Wilberforce, Charles Spurgeon, Augustine, Hudson Taylor, William Cowper, John Newton, and others. read more