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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Reasons to Give Thanks

thanks 1As we move into Thanksgiving weekend, we at Heritage have many reasons to thank God for His goodness.  Let me highlight a few and invite you to join us in giving thanks to the Lord.

Debt Demolition:   Over 2 million dollars came in over the past two months in our debt demolition initiative.  Our board, faculty, staff and students are overjoyed.  The school’s debt is now under $700,000, and funds continue to come in ($9,000 more came in this week for debt elimination).  We are thankful for all who prayed and gave to see the debt load greatly reduced.  We look forward to seeing it completely demolished!

College Enrollment:  This fall, the college has its largest incoming class in years.  I (Rick) have the joy of teaching the first-year students in a Christian Formation class.  I’ve been encouraged by the eagerness they show to grow in Christ and be equipped to serve.

Seminary Enrollment:  The seminary has seen a dramatic increase in new students.  In fact, the size of the seminary is at an all-time high.  What is most encouraging to me is the calibre of the students who are coming to Heritage to be equipped as pastors, missionaries and church leaders.  We exist to serve the Church and I sense God has sent us some stellar students to train for ministry.

(Tomorrow I’ll get more personal and give some reasons Linda and I are thanking God for His faithfulness and kindness to us and our family.)

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Big News!

Big News 2For those who have been following our debt demolition saga, we’ve got some big news.  God has been answering prayer in a big way.

Just a bit of history.  In 2009, our school’s debt load was almost 3.7 million.  In 2015, it was just over 3 million.  In 2017, the debt was down to 2.7 million.

Our faculty, staff, and board have been praying earnestly about seeing the debt eliminated, freeing up more funds for our mission of training pastors, missionaries, and church leaders.

In 2016, our Board passed a motion to not only eliminate debt but to intentionally stay out of debt in the future.

I’m grateful to report that God has been working in amazing ways.  In the past month, we received cheques from generous donors totaling 1.4 million.  Also, a good number of individuals responded to the 1000 x 1000 initiative, providing over $70,000.

Yesterday, we received more donations–over $500,000.

So in the past two months, we’ve been given almost 2 million dollars.  Our current debt load is now down to $695,000.

We are rejoicing in God’s goodness through His people.

Debt freeWe are scheduled to sign a new mortgage on Monday, October 1st.  So it’s not too late for others to make an “eleventh-hour” donation to further reduce or eliminate the debt.  (Find information on how to contribute here)

Over the years, God has repeatedly supplied the needs for the school in amazing ways.  Now He is doing it again.  Praise be to His name.

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Debt Demolition Update

debtWe are praising our Lord for His work at Heritage.

If you’ve been following our blog, you know we are pressing toward demolishing Heritage’s debt by October 1, 2017.  With just two weeks to go, let us tell you how God is providing.

In the past two years, God has raised up generous donors who have pledged over a million dollars to reducing our 2.7 million dollar debt.

Here’s some more good news.   Last Friday, another $200,000 was committed.

Also, almost $65,000 dollars has come in so far in response to the 1000 x 1000 video.

We now have donations and pledges totalling over $1,460,000.  This amount reduces our mortgage to about 1.2 million.

Conversations are still happening with people who could add to this total and move us closer to completely eliminating the debt.

God is sending record numbers of students to prepare for ministry in our seminary. Our college has its largest incoming class in years.  We sense God’s kindness and favour in so many ways. Eliminating the debt would free up funds that can be used for student scholarships, staff and faculty salaries as well as important initiatives to advance the mission of the school.

Our mortgage renewal date is October 1, 2017 so I would invite you to consider becoming part of the 1000 x 1000 initiative and help us demolish the debt.

You can see the video we posted and find more information on how to contribute here.

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