There and Back Again

Our past few months have been filled with planes, trains and automobiles.

In May we were in Scotland to see our son Michael, who’s studying in Edinburgh this year.  Along with celebrating his birthday, highlights of the trip were hiking up Arthur’sedinburgh-king-author
Seat (a hill outside Edinburgh) and a train ride to the Isle of Skye in the Scottish highlands.  In late June we headed to the southern United States, I did some teaching at a training program for international pastors at Dallas Seminary; Linda attended the Gospel Coalition’s National Women’s Conference in Orlando.

It was a grand adventure.  But after going “there” we’re glad to be “back again.”  Back to our home in the Shire of Cambridge.there and back

We are now preparing for the Fall and the upcoming school year at Heritage.  Linda has officially started in a new position at the school.  She’s been asked to head up the new Heritage Centre for Women in Ministry.  She’ll be working with women students at Heritage, hosting occasional gatherings for pastors’ wives and helping run graduate courses designed for women.  The first course (Women in Leadership with Dr. Bev Hislop) will run this fall.  You can get more info on the course here or by emailing Linda at lreed@heritage-theo.edu.

I’m gearing up for teaching preaching this fall and we are both preparing for speaking opportunities in the coming months (you can see our speaking schedule here).

We’re eager to see the students return at the end of August.  Our mission as a school is to train men and women for life and ministry.  (If you know of someone who could benefit from a Heritage education, please help us connect with them; it’s not too late to enroll for the Fall Semester.)

After taking some time off this summer, Linda and I hope to resume more regular postings on our blog.  We’ll use this space to write about lessons God is teaching us, thoughts we have on life and ministry and updates on opportunities at Heritage.

In a real sense, all of us who follow Jesus are on a grand adventure.  We walk by faith, trusting God to keep our feet on the path and to use our lives to lead others in His way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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His Sovereignty Rules Over All

A recent visit to Ottawa raised the question: “Had I been writing any blog posts?”   I haven’t written for a long time, sensing this was Rick’s role as President.  I have been writing class papers for courses at Heritage:  Moral Theology, Post Exilic Prophets and Theology of Gender.    They’ve been amazing, and have kept me busy.

Teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) has also kept me busy.  This week, our ESL topic was “fate.” We discussed: “Does life just happen…or is there someone or something  that controls everything?”  It made me think of a Summer Sovereignty:

Seven years ago this summer, our family was headed to Syracuse (from Ottawa).  That morning, in my devotional time, I’d shot up a prayer: “Lord, I’d love to see Zac and Mel’s baby.”  Zac and Mel were also headed to Syracuse with their new baby, just eight days old.  Little Ellie’s parents were starting a new church ministry, and we all wanted to meet her.  Knowing we were both on the same highway at nearly the same time, I’d prayed we’d somehow meet.

We were both to leave between 8 and 10 a.m.   Just before leaving, my husband thought that perhaps a rental car was more reliable — an hour later, we headed to a rental agency.  Completing the paperwork, we “stopped by the church for a minute.”  A senior was there – and “could we let him in?”  This set off the security alarms; a much greater delay.

Breakfast had been scanty, so a stop at Tim Horton’s was requested. Bathrooms and vending machines beckoned, and our daughter stood for ages waiting for a bagel (the first of which had fallen to the floor).  Frustration for everyone!

My faithful husband safely drove the speed limit.  Arriving at the Thousand Islands Border Crossborder crossing (one of the 10 most used between the US and Canada), eight crowded lanes of traffic were waved either right or left of the building.  At the white line to move ahead to the customs agent, my husband rolled down his window, only to hear our names called.   There, by the sovereignty of Almighty God was Zac and Mel, parallel with us; a lane away.  Due to an unexpected visitor, we had arrived at the very same moment to the very same place.

I marvel at a God who was answering prayer in each delay.  Every detail was His timing – a rental car, an alarm, a bagel toasted twice, the speed limit obeyed, in order to put us exactly where we needed to be on time! His time!

Could it be that sometimes when we pray, we are frustrated with His delay? Not today, or tomorrow, it seems.   Only in the end to realize that we have received all that we asked for and exactly on time.  Let’s pray — believing in the sovereignty of God as we enjoy the summertime!

“His sovereignty rules over all.”  Psalm 103: 19

For a beautiful musical reminder of this truth, listen to Chris Tomlin’s song:  Sovereign

 

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Graduation Day–Jump for Joy

Jump for JOy

Last Saturday, April 26th, was a joyful day on the Heritage campus.  Amidst much pomp, circumstance and celebration, we conferred diplomas and degrees on our college and seminary graduates.

I wish I could introduce you to these men and women who are now freshly-minted Heritage alumni.  We’ve enjoyed getting to know them — many of them have a deep desire to use their training to serve the Lord Jesus wherever He leads  them.

Here’s a quick glimpse of three of this year’s grads:

Amanda Spruit is a young woman we met while serving at the Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa.  Having finished her studies at Heritage, she’s now off to language school this summer in Sherbrooke, Quebec.  Amanda has already served in Africa, but hopes to return this fall to join a team that will be serving Jesus in Chad, West Africa.

Van Kung Thiahlun made history on Saturday for his people group.  I was told that Van is the first Christian from the Chin people group (a persecuted minority in Myanmar) to get a seminary degree in Canada.  Many members from the Chin church that Van pastors were decked out in their colourfully woven jackets to celebrate graduation and to mark this historic event.  We recently had an opportunity to visit this church, have Chin soup, and enjoy their ardent worship.

Mark Hartnett received his Master in Divinity last Saturday and will be getting married this coming Saturday.   Mark and his bride, Ashley, have already been called to serve a church in Kolkata, India.

The Graduation Celebration was a joyful culmination to a stellar year at Heritage.  Linda and I will miss seeing many of these grads on campus. It’s bittersweet to see them go, but we are excited to see how God will use their lives to build His Church here in Canada and around the world.

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Easter Evening

sunsetThe first Easter wasn’t a happy day for Jesus’ first disciples.  At least it wasn’t for the men who followed Jesus.

It’s true they had heard Mary say she had seen the risen Lord.  It’s true Peter and John had inspected Jesus’ tomb and found it empty.  But as the disciples gathered on that first Easter evening, their mood was fearful not festive:   “On the evening of that first day of the week . . .the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders. . . ” (John 20:19).

Even though Jesus had risen early that morning, there were no handshakes and high-fives that evening.    No celebrations.  No party mood.

It all changed when Jesus appeared to them:   “On the evening of that first day of the week. . . Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19-20).

On the first Easter, joy didn’t rise until after sundown.  Joy came in the evening when it finally dawned on the disciples that Jesus was truly alive again.

Easter isn’t automatically a cause for joy just because it’s true.  Easter becomes a cause for joy when the truth of the resurrection is believed.  Joy comes to us when the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection becomes part of our personal reality—when we believe in the resurrected Christ (John 20:30-31).

So here’s a question each of us can ask:  “Has the reality that the Son has risen really dawned on me?”

 

 

 

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Who needs forgiveness anyway?

Most people I meet don’t seem to feel a pressing need for God’s forgiveness.  They wouldn’t claim to be perfect, but they certainly wouldn’t see themselves as perverse.  They may not be sinless, but they aren’t all that bad.  They’d put themselves solidly in the category of “good people.”

As such, they don’t feel on shaky grounds with God.  In fact, if they do believe in God, they have concluded that He will give them passing marks.  They assume that God will be basically good to those who’ve been basically good.  If there’s a heaven (and most people believe there is), they’re fairly sure they’ll be welcomed in.

The problem with this “no worries” point of view is that it’s tragically mistaken.  The Bible teaches that God does not see any of us as  basically good.  “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10).  “All we, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

God sees all of us as spiritual felons who’ve embezzled his glory.  We’ve committed high treason by elevating ourselves to His position, crowning ourselves as little kings and queens.  The penalty for our mutiny is death—spiritually, physically and eternally.  Instead of being on the narrow road to heaven, we’re all on the highway to hell.

That’s why Good Friday is such good news.  Jesus went to the cross and died the death we deserved.  As John Stott observes, “The essence of sin is we human beings substituting ourselves for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for us.  We put ourselves where only God deserves to be; God …put himself where we deserve to be” (The Cross of Christ, p. 160).

So who needs forgiveness? I do. You do. Everyone does.

Because of what Jesus did on Good Friday, forgiveness is available to all who confess their sin and place their trust in who Jesus is (Lord and God) and what Jesus did (died and rose again).

Good Friday

 

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The Heritage Podcast

A little over a week ago, Heritage launched a new weekly podcast.  The goal of it is to encourage and strengthen our alumni and friends by extending the preaching and teaching ministry of our faculty.

As I have the privilege of preaching at churches around Ontario, the majority of the podcasts will be sermons that I’ve preached at churches or conferences.  We’ll also sprinkle in sermons from other Heritage professors, like Dr. Dave Barker and Dr. Stan Fowler.

From time to time, we’ll add short interviews to give updates on what’s happening at Heritage.

I’m excited about the possibilities of this new initiative; it’s another way we can seek to encourage and equip Christians for life and ministry.

Here’s a link to the first broadcast; it’s a sermon I gave entitled Jailhouse Praise.  I pray it will strengthen your soul and prompt your praise—even when life has you feeling locked up and beaten down.

podcast

P.S.  The intro music for the podcast was written and recorded by several Heritage music students.

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March Update

It’s been a while since we’ve written, so here’s an update on what we’ve been up to over the past weeks.

blossom

Women’s Blossom Conference:  In late February, Linda spoke at conference for women in Pembroke.  In spite of the fact it was cold and white outside, the conference had a spring feel.  Much prayer and planning had gone into the event, and much fruit seemed to blossom from it.

Teaching Preachers:  In early March, I taught a course for pastors entitled, “The preachPersonal Side of Expository Preaching.”  (The course was the first of five courses in a our newly launched Graduate Certificate in Biblical Preaching).  For three days, fifteen pastors from across Ontario focused on taking their preaching to the next level of effectiveness. It was a fantastic three days—tiring to my body but energizing to my soul.  When pastors make progress in their preaching, the whole church benefits!

southernSouthern Exposure: Last weekend, Linda and I made a quick trip to Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  Not only was it nice to get out of the snow for a few days and enjoy a Chipotle’s burrito, I was able to meet with the dean of the seminary and Linda connected with leaders of the women and wives ministry.  We sensed God’s gracious guidance on the whole experience (including the timing of a flat tire—at a time when we were able to get immediate help).   Seeing another quality seminary up close is both educational and inspirational.  God is shaping my vision for the impact Heritage can have in Canada and beyond.

MynamarA quick trip to Myanmar:  Last night we visited Myanmar by traveling to Kitchener.  Linda and I were invited to be part of a national conference for Chin believers (a persecuted Christian group that came from western Myanmar).  After enjoying dinner with them and hearing some of their stories, I spoke to the group; the topic they assigned me was “Understanding the Bible Theologically.” Though language was a barrier (I had an interpreter), they were eager to learn more about understanding the God’s Word.  The whole evening felt like a preview of heaven—when believers from every tribe and tongue will join together to worship the Lord.

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