Graduation 2015: Passing the Torch  

2015This is graduation week at Heritage and there’s excitement in the air. On Wednesday, students, faculty are staff will celebrate with a trip to the Toronto aquarium and a barbeque dinner. On Friday night, we’ll host a Grad Banquet for all graduates and their families. Then on Saturday morning (10:30), we will gather in the Heritage Community Centre for the graduation ceremony.

Over fifty graduates will walk across the stage this Saturday and then step into the next phase of their lives.  Linda and I have come to know a number of these grads on a personal level: some are headed into pastoral ministry, some will be worship leaders, some are planning to be missionaries, others will serve Christ in the marketplace and be key leaders in their local churches.

I’m thrilled with the caliber of so many of these graduates. I believe God will use their lives to strengthen the Church in Canada and spread the gospel around the world. That’s the reason Linda and I are grateful to serve at Heritage—we want to see the next wave of spiritual leaders equipped for life and ministry.

At the Grad Banquet on Friday night we will give each graduate a small brass pin shaped torchlike a torch. It’s our way of symbolizing the passing of the ministry torch to them. The faculty and staff at Heritage, along with parents and home churches, have sought to prepare them to carry the light of the gospel into the next generation.

These graduates leave Heritage with our love and prayers. We are proud of the efforts they have put into preparing for a lifetime of ministry. We will miss them on campus, but are delighted to see them step into the future God has for them. May they carry the torch high and well.

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Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Preaching

MLJ 1Last night I finished reading Ian Murray’s biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones was a powerful preacher in London (and throughout the United Kingdom) in the 20th century. Each Sunday morning and evening for the better part of thirty years, he preached to several thousand people at Westminster Chapel in London.

As a young man, he was seen as a rising star in the medical field. But he traded his future as a physician of bodies to become a surgeon of souls:  he became a preacher.

He was known for his expositional, doctrinal approach to preaching. In fact, he preached 366 messages on the book of Romans and 232 on Ephesians. (My advice to young preachers: Don’t try to emulate the Doctor on this one!)

MLJ was a man with strong, definite convictions about preaching. Here are few:

On “sacrificing” a promising medical career to become a preacher:

“I gave up nothing. I received everything. I count it the highest honour that God can confer on any man to call him to be a herald of the gospel.” (99)

On the importance of diligent study and preparation for preaching:

“You will always find that the men whom God has used signally have been those who have studied most, known their Scriptures best, and given time to preparation.” (102)

On the vital importance of the preacher’s relationship with God:

“The minister should always move amongst the people as one who has been with God. His chief object should be to please God rather than to please men. What is needed is not the spirit but the Holy Spirit . . . . He can only win his place and have respect by a holy life.” (159)

On the blending of passion and truth in preaching:

“Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the truth must lead to this.” (308)

On forgetting yourself while you are preaching:

“. . . be so absorbed in what you are doing and in the realization of the presence of God, and in the glory and the greatness of the truth that you are preaching, that you forget yourself completely.” (308)

The danger of finding your identity in preaching rather than in Christ:

“Our greatest danger is to live upon our activity. The ultimate test of a preacher is what he feels like when he cannot preach.” (450)

At this week’s Gospel Coalition conference, a new documentary on Lloyd-Jones’ life was premiered.  Here’e a link to the trailer for Logic on Fire.

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“The God School”

Recently I stopped in at the TD Bank across from Heritage to make a transaction. One of the tellers working the line that afternoon was a young man who usually has a friendly greeting for me.

On this day he asked, “So how are things at the school?”

“Great,” I replied.

He surprised me by responding, “Are you just saying that to be positive?”

I answered, “Well, I have to admit that schools like Heritage are facing challenging times. But we have a group of students who are sharp and vibrant. I have some of them in my preaching course and I love it. So things are great.”

What he said next still has me smiling.

GroupHe turned to the teller next to him and said, “I can always tell the ones who go to the ‘God school.’ They say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ The students from the ‘God school’ are different from others who come in here.”

I’d never heard Heritage called the “God school” before, but I take it as a great compliment.   In 2 Corinthians 2:15 the apostle Paul writes, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

I’m grateful for students who are the aroma of Christ, not just on campus but wherever they go. And I’m banking on the fact the Lord will answer our prayers and direct more sharp and vibrant students our way.

If you know of students that would benefit from our one year program or a full-degree program, please encourage them check out the Heritage website (discoverheritage.ca) and to apply online.

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Surprised by Resurrection

wrightSeveral years ago I  purchased a copy of N.T. Wright’s massive book, The Resurrection of the Son of God.   It’s a thorough investigation of the historical validity of Jesus’ resurrection.  This Easter, I reviewed the opening chapters of the book and was struck again by one of the main ideas.

Wright shows that in Jesus’ day virtually no one thought resurrection was possible (by “resurrection” we mean return to physical life in transformed body after physical death).  Following the thinking of Homer and Plato, Gentiles thought resurrection was a ludicrous idea, both unthinkable and undesirable. Some Jews (i.e. Pharisees) believed in a physical resurrection, but only at the end of history.

So Jesus’ resurrection caught everyone by surprise.  The people in Jesus’ day (both Jews and Gentiles) didn’t have a category for someone rising physically from the dead in the middle of history.

Here’s the big point Wright makes: Believing in the resurrection of Jesus required a major shift in worldviews for both Jews and Gentiles.  And since worldviews normally change gradually, not suddenly, we are forced to explain the sudden shift.  How could so many people change their worldview about resurrection so quickly?  How could the early church grow rapidly in a cultural context where its central message (the gospel of a resurrected Christ) ran counter to current thinking?  Wright’s conclusion: only the actual resurrection of Jesus could account for such a change.  Any other explanation doesn’t fit the facts.

After completing his book, Wright gave it to a philosophy tutor (i.e. professor) at Oxford to read.  The tutor told Wright he had done a great job making a sound argument for the resurrection.  But he went on to say that he was still choosing to believe there must be some other explanation, even though he didn’t know what it was.

Easter requires faith from each of us.  It takes faith to believe in the resurrection.  But given the overwhelming evidence of both Scripture and history, it also takes faith not to believe.

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Courses for Women in Ministry

One of the new initiatives at Heritage Seminary is our Graduate Certificate for Women in Ministry. The program is designed to provide excellent academic training for women engaged in ministry their churches and communities.

Linda oversees the program and invited Dr. Phyllis Bennett from Western Seminary in Bible Study Curriculum 1Portland Oregon to teach a course on Designing Life-Changing Bible Study Curriculum. Linda had taken the course at Western several years ago and wanted to bring it to help the churches in Canada.

The seventeen women who took the three-day course were enthusiastic about what they learned. One woman wrote a note that said, “I just want to say thank you for your pursuit in putting courses like this together for women in ministry. What a great benefit and encouragement it was!”

Bible Study Curriculum 2The insights and skills the women gained in this course will help them develop Bible study curriculum for their local churches. Several of the women plan to write Bible studies for different language groups. We are thrilled to think of the impact this course will have on many lives.

The next course for the Graduate Certificate for Women in Ministry is a class on “Great Women of the Faith.” The course will run from June 15-19 and be taught by Dr. Michael Haykin and Linda Reed. It will provide an inspiring look at the lives of key women from Bible times to the present time.

I’d encourage some of you reading this to consider taking part in this course–or one of the other summer courses at Heritage. It would be an investment in your spiritual life and a way to become better equipped for life and ministry. You can find more information on our summer courses here.

UPDATE:  If you’d like to see ALL the upcoming courses in the Graduate Certificate for Women in Ministry program click here (or select the “Women in Ministry Courses” tab in the banner at the top of the page).

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Happy 40th Birthday Paul Henderson

Where were you on September 28, 1972?

If you were alive and living in Canada on that day, you likely remember where you were the goalwhen Paul Henderson scored the winning goal against the Russians in the Summit Series. That goal was voted “the sports moment of the century” by The Canadian Press. I have a friend who said, “What the moon landing was to the Americans, Henderson’s goal was to the Canadians.”

But while September 28, 1972 was the biggest day in Henderson’s hockey career, it wasn’t the most important day in his life. That honour would go to March 12, 1975. That’s the day Paul Henderson put his faith in Christ Jesus and became a Christian.

So today is Henderson’s 40th spiritual birthday.

Last week, Paul spoke in chapel at Heritage, giving his testimony as part of our “courageous Christians” series. While he talked about his life in hockey (including The Goal), he focused on the difference Christ Jesus has made in his life over the past 40 years. He also talked about how his faith in Christ has strengthened him through his fight with cancer, giving him peace and purpose for living. (You can listen to Henderson’s chapel message here).book

After hearing Paul in chapel, Linda and I watched a documentary on the Summit Series to
catch up on what we missed back in 1972 (We were living in the USA at that time). We also were inspired as we read Henderson’s biography, The Goal of My Life.  It’s a book that makes it clear that Henderson’s goal in life transcends the goal he scored in 1972!

 

 

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Ministry Leadership Day in Review

In my last post, I asked you to pray for Heritage’s Ministry Leadership Day. Almost 200 people (students and ministry leaders) took part of the conference. The feedback we’ve heard has been very positive.

Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, spoke on the significant worldview change that has taken place in Canadian society in the past fifty years. His analysis helped me better understand why our culture has embraced same-sex marriage or doctor-assisted suicide. I’d encourage you to listen to Bruce’s address (you can access it by clicking here). His presentation lasts for the better part of an hour but it will give you a better grasp of the society in which we live.CHrist and Church

All those who attended the conference were given a free copy of For Christ and His Church, a new book written by faculty members at Heritage College and Seminary. The book is a compilation of essays dealing with important topics for church ministry: re-engaging people with the Bible, understanding the biblical background when preparing to teach, ministering to single adults, and a number of other critical issues. You can order copies of the book from Heritage (email dantoine@heritage-theo.edu).  It’s also available in digital format (click here).

I am delighted that Heritage is able to serve the wider Church through conferences like this Ministry Leadership Day. Pastors were strengthened and stretched through the plenary sessions and workshops. Pastors’ Wives were refreshed and encouraged by the time they spent together with Linda. Heritage students were able to rub shoulders with experienced ministry leaders. God answered our prayers in a wonderful way.

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