A Thousand Thanks

thanks 1000Thanksgiving comes just twice each fall (today is US Thanksgiving), but there are thousands of reasons to be thankful. Charles Wesley wrote: “O for a thousand tongues to sing,” and a Canadian author beautifully articulated One Thousand Gifts.[1] We are exhorted to “give thanks in all things” (I Thes 5:18), but that isn’t always easy. My (Linda) mother loved a hymn that included:

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered, Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered, Thanks for all Thou dost supply!

Six years ago, Thanksgiving followed cancer for Rick (and I). With gritted teeth I gave thanks for collared hospital chaplains, meals, visits, and rhubarb (that’s another blog post). I was thankful for our children, and for the prayers of many (James 5). I was thankful for Tim Horton’s in the Ottawa Cancer Centre. My journal recorded:

 It’s grateful here. On February 4th, Rick was diagnosed with cancer. Seven months       later to the day, September 4th, he led communion at the Met. We’re grateful to be       alive, to   work, and so incredibly grateful to each friend who encouraged us.

It’s changed here. Someone once said, “It’s doubtful anyone ever changes without        pain.” The Bible says: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later        on, it produces a harvest of righteousness . . . for those trained by it” (Heb 12:11). A      friend wrote: “This experience has left you a different person.”

Thanksgiving Day, October 7, 2012, Rick resigned from a church we loved to come to Heritage. We’re thankful for our new home, new friends, 2000+ days of cancer freedom, innumerable completed assignments and the anticipated joy of graduation from Southern Seminary (December 8th). We’re also thankful for sharpened minds, wisdom in money matters, preparing pastors, and reaching internationals.

1000 thanks whiteA thousand thanks for all who participated in the 1000 x 1000 campaign, for student vitality, for life lessons (yes, even mistakes) which brought personal reflection. For my incredible husband, for his daily breath for 10,000 days. For Sola gratia and your cross payment for my sin, Lord, eucharisteo. For all of you, a 1000 thanks.

[1]Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010).
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Prayer Update November 10, 2017

As we head into this weekend, Linda and I have several ministry opportunities that could use your prayers.

Friday:  I (Rick) lead an all-day prayer and planning retreat for the senior leadership team at Heritage.  This is an exciting time in the life of the school–many opportunities for expansion and growth.  Please pray we will be led by God’s Spirit and filled with His wisdom as we pray and plan.

 

Jo 1.jpegFriday and Saturday:   Linda leads “Part 2” of the course, “Women who Impact the World:  Global, National and Local Evangelism.”  She’s excited to welcome a dear friend and mentor, Joanne Shetler, as the guest presenter.  Joanne is an amazing woman who has been used by God to bring the gospel and a translated copy of the Bible to the Balangao people in the Philippines.   Her story is chronicled in the book, And the Word Came with Power.  Pray that the Lord would work powerfully in the lives of the students in the course.

Sunday:  I (Rick) am preaching at Parkdale Baptist Church in Belleville.  I’ve been asked to preach on how God’s Word guides us through life.  Ask God to use His Word to shape the lives of His people!

Thank you for partnering with us through your prayers!

 

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There and Back Again

It’s been a while since we’ve written as we’ve been doing a good bit of traveling.  In the last three weeks, I (Rick) flew to Calgary to speak at a Promise Keeper’s conference, we both flew to Dallas (Linda presented at a conference for Professors of Christian Education), and we drove to Ottawa (Rick spoke at a conference for Chinese churches).

Thank you for praying for us–we sensed the Lord’s grace strengthening us all along the way.  There were several very memorable moments we’ll chronicle in future posts.

IMG_1944Let me tell you about one encounter that has impacted us quite deeply.   When we were in Dallas, we drove to Frisco, Texas on Sunday to visit the church where Chuck Swindoll preaches.  We arrived a few minutes before the second service was to begin.  Chuck was at the front of the sanctuary, talking with people who had been at the first service.

When he was free, we approached him and told him how his preaching and writing have impacted our lives over the years.  When he learned I was serving as the president of Heritage Seminary in Canada, he took my arm, looked me in the eyes and said, “I have something for you to take back to Canada:  teach expository preaching. Train up preachers for all of Canada.”

I was very moved by Dr. Swindoll’s charge.  Training biblical preachers is a passion God has put deep in my heart.  I sense a great need across Canada for pastors who can faithfully and fruitfully preach God’s Word.  Each Thursday during the semester, I have the joy of training a group of college and seminary students who are learning to preach.   Right before flying to Dallas, I had taught a modular preaching course for a group of pastors who desire to keep making progress in their preaching (1 Timothy 4:13-15).

Would you pray that God would allow to be part of training up preachers for all of Canada.  I believe this will glorify God and also strengthen God’s people!

IMG_1954.JPG

“Preach the Word” is the motto of Dallas Theological Seminary, the school I attended.  After hearing Dr. Swindoll preach, we stopped by Dallas Seminary and took this picture

 

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Praise & Prayer Update October 20, 2017

praiseLast week I asked you to join with us in praying for Linda’s course (Women Who Impact the World) and the accreditation visit from the ATS team (Association of Theological Schools).  We are rejoicing in God’s goodness and answers to prayer.

Linda’s course had some amazing moments where students not only learned about reaching out with the gospel message, but had a chance to participate in it.

Also, the team from ATS spent Tuesday and Wednesday interviewing focus groups from the seminary (faculty, staff, students, alumni, board members).  Yesterday, they shared with us what they will be reporting to the Board of Commissioners.  Their report was incredibly positive about the school–a strong recommendation for full accreditation.   We are thanking the Lord for such good news.  Thank you for praying with us.

prayerHere are a few prayer requests that Linda and I would ask you to pray about this coming week.

1. I fly to Calgary this afternoon to speak at a Promise Keepers Conference.  Please pray my message would be used by God to strengthen the men who attend (I’m preaching from Romans 8 on how the Holy Spirit helps us live for Christ)

2.  Next Wednesday and Thursday, I (Rick) teach a modular class on biblical preaching at Heritage.  This course is designed for pastors who want to continue to grow in their ability to communicate God’s Word faithfully and fruitfully.  I’d welcome your prayers that the course would be helpful to each man who attends.

3.  Next Thursday, Linda flies to Dallas to present the results of her dissertation project at a conference of the Society of Professors in Christian Education.  (Her research was on education for women at Complementarian seminaries).  Pray for her as she presents and also that those who attend her seminar would be encouraged and inspired.

Thank you for praying!  We know we need God’s enablement to serve Him in the calling He’s given us.

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Prayer Update, October 13, 2017

One of the distinctives of Heritage Seminary is our emphasis on training up biblical preachers to serve local churches.  We are convinced that healthy churches need pastors who feed people well from God’s Word.

Dan Block

Dr. Dan Block

As part of this commitment to training faithful, fruitful preachers, we host the Heritage Preacher Lectures each fall.  On Thursday, we welcomed Dr. Daniel Block as this year’s guest presenter.  Dr. Block is an excellent Old Testament scholar and also an engaging, God-honouring preacher. (He’s also a Canadian from Saskatchewan).  Dr. Block’s sessions on “Preaching the Gospel According to Moses” were designed to help preachers present the gospel message while preaching from the book of Deuteronomy!

In addition to thanking the Lord for His goodness to the school, here are several requests I’d ask you to pray about this week.

  1. gospelThis weekend, Linda is teaching a course on Women Who Impact the World:  Local, National and Global Evangelism.” Please pray for her as she encourages students to be personally engaged in bringing the good news of Christ to those who need to receive His great salvation.
  2.   AtsOn Monday through Thursday (Oct. 16-19), Heritage Seminary will have a visit from an accreditation evaluation team.  This is a crucial part of our accreditation process with ATS (The Association of Theological Schools).  We’ve been preparing for this visit for over a year and now are praying it will go well.  Please join us in asking the Lord for a favourable report.

Thank you for assisting us through your prayers!

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What To Do About Tomorrow

tomorrow basic 2Tomorrow occupies a great deal of our time and energy today. We work towards producing a brighter tomorrow. We also worry about what could happen tomorrow, fearing the future may be darker than the past.

The Bible has a good deal to say about tomorrow. Here are three biblical admonitions that tell us what we should be doing about tomorrow.

tomorrow ProvWe are not to boast about tomorrow. Proverbs 27:1 cautions, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” James refers to this proverb when making a similar point: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4:13-14).

Boasting about tomorrow involves presuming on the future and assuming we are in control. Both Solomon and James challenge this kind of thinking by reminding us of a harsh truth: we do not know what tomorrow may bring!

So much about tomorrow is beyond our control. We are reminded of this reality when we hear the nuclear-level threats from world leaders or the biopsy results from our doctors. We can’t stop the hurricanes that flood our streets with water or the mass shootings that flood our hearts with tears. Boasting about tomorrow reveals we are either clueless or cocky—neither of which are good options.

tomorrow mattWe are not to worry about tomorrow. The uncertainty about what tomorrow may bring can trigger a deep-level anxiety in our hearts. Jesus knew we would struggle with anxiety about tomorrow and spoke directly to our fears in his Sermon on the Mount.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31-34)

When fears about tomorrow invade our hearts and disrupt our peace, we are to trade anxiety for trust by remembering God’s fatherly care and by seeking His kingdom priorities.

tomorrow todayWe are to plan and work for tomorrow.   You might think God wants us to focus only on today. Actually, Scripture calls us to live today in light of tomorrow. While we are not to worry about the future, we can work with the future in mind. Like the ant, we are to wisely store up resources now for use in the future (Proverbs 6:6-8).

While we are not to presume on the future, we can still plan ahead. After rebuking those who assume they control tomorrow, James adds, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15).

In fact, Christians are called to live with a future orientation that sees this life in light of the life to come. Like the apostle Paul, we are to see present sufferings as preparing us for eternal glories (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Romans 8:18). A.W. Tozer had it right: “We do well to think of the long tomorrow.”

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Bless the Lord O my soul!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2).

thanks 2

On this Thanksgiving weekend, Linda and I want to join the psalmist in thanking the LORD for his many graces in our lives.  Here are a few of the benefits we are remembering this year.

Our salvation in Christ:  The most significant and most enduring benefit we have is the gift of salvation we have been given through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The Word of God:  This month is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a time when the authority and centrality of the Word of God was rediscovered.  We are grateful for the Scriptures which are a lamp to our feet and a light to our path in this darkened world (Psalm 199:105).

Our marriage and family:  This summer, we celebrated our 34th anniversary.  I (Rick) am thankful to be married to a woman who loves the Lord, is my best friend and partner in life and ministry.  We also are grateful for the three wonderful children God has given us.

Grandparenthood:  Ryan and Jenny are waiting the birth of their first child (and our first grandchild) in January.

Continued Health:  I (Rick) recently had my annual blood work done and got the good news that I am still cancer free (6 years).

Completed Studies:  On September 15th, Linda submitted the complete draft of her dissertation for her Doctorate in Education.  She is now gearing up for her defence on November 3 and graduation (hooray!) from Southern Seminary on December 8th.

Friends near and far:   We’re thankful for the way friends (like many of you) enrich our lives.  As we travel, it is such a joy to meet with each one of you!

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