Opening Ceremony and Revelation 7

openingLinda and I returned from speaking at the Valentine’s Getaway at Fair Havens on Sunday night. (Thanks to all who prayed; it was an impactful weekend for all of us).  After settling in, we watched a recorded version of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in PyeongChang.

parade 1Even though I’ve seen many opening ceremonies, I still was moved by the parade of nations.  Over 2,000 athletes from 92 countries marched into the arena, cheered by almost 35,000 spectators.  Athletes from countries whose governments are at odds (Iran and Israel; North Korea and the USA) smiled and waved to crowds and cameras.  Four South Korean recording artists joined voices to sing John Lennon’s anthem, “Imagine.”  The song invites us to “imagine there’s no heaven . .  . hell . . . countries . . . religion.”  Instead, “the world will be as one.”

Iparade 2t’s not hard to join those who dream of a day when peace comes to our broken, bleeding world.  When hostility gives way to harmony.  When adversaries become allies. In some ways, the opening ceremony gives us a tantalizing glimpse of this dream.

But sadly this dream, like so many dreams, vanishes all too quickly.  In two weeks, the Olympics will end and our world will be as fractured as it was before the games began.  John Lennon’s song will remain as imaginary as it was when he recorded it in 1971.

But there is hope.  There is coming a Day when the longing for unity between nations will become reality.  But contrary to John Lennon’s song, this lasting peace will not be achieved by human efforts or by denying the eternal realities of heaven and hell.

Unity between people only comes as we are united in Christ.  His death on the cross broke down “the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14), giving all who trust in him “access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). He takes “strangers and aliens” and turns them into “members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

In Revelation 7, we get a glimpse of a heavenly parade of nations that dwarfs any Olympic Opening Ceremony:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Revelation 7:9-10).

The longing for peace and harmony among people is a worthy one.  But it will only become a reality when people are united in worshiping the Worthy One–the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus calls us to bring the good news of the gospel to “all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20).

One day, heaven will come to earth (Revelation 21:1-2) and all who have trusted in Christ as Saviour and Lord will live together as one!  Best of all, there will be closing ceremony!

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Prayer Update February 9, 2018

Last week, I asked you to pray with us about two upcoming conferences–a marriage conference and a mission conference.  Before giving several new requests, let me begin by giving thanks to God for answering prayers for both conferences.

The Marriage Conference at the Peoples Church in Wyoming, ON was attended by almost 80 couples.  Starting on Saturday afternoon and running through Sunday morning, Linda and I taught five sessions highlighting key biblical concepts related to a beautiful, durable marriage.  It was a joy to be with so many couples who wanted to learn and live out God’s vision for marriage.  Now we pray for grace to apply what we learned!

SErveThe Missions Conference at Heritage (Monday through Wednesday) was a full and fruitful time for our students.  The four plenary sessions examined the glory of the gospel–how it speaks to the deepest needs of the human heart (guilt, shame, fear).  The conference ended with our famous “Cake Auction.”  Students, staff and missionaries gathered to bid (actually overbid) on seventeen homemade cakes.  Since all the money went to help Heritage students going out this summer to Thailand with our SERVE experience, bids were outrageously high (one cake sold for over $700).  Once again, the Missions Conference was a highlight of the entire year at Heritage.

As we head into this weekend, here are two new prayer requests.

Fair Havens Valentine’s Getaway.  Linda and I head to Fair Havens Christian Conference Centre this weekend to speak at another marriage conference.  The folks at Fair Havens have a wonderful weekend planned and we’re delighted to be part of it.  Please pray with us that God would enable us to present the truth of His Word with clarity, passion and impact.

College Admissions.   February is a key month for our recruiting team as high school seniors consider coming to Heritage in the Fall.  We are looking for students who want to grow in their faith and make a difference with their lives.  Please join us in praying that God would direct many students to consider coming to Heritage.  Also, if you know a young adult who would benefit from a year (or more) of top-flight, biblical training, please encourage them to look into the school (click here for information on applications).

Thanks again for standing with us in prayer.

 

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Prayer Update February 2, 2018

I would ask for your prayers for two important ministry conferences that take place in the next few days. The first relates to marriage, the second to missions.

Rings cover 4Marriage Conference. Saturday and Sunday, Linda and I are scheduled to speak at a Marriage Weekend at the People’s Church in Wyoming, Ontario (near Sarnia). We are excited about the conference but sense a need for fervent prayer.

Linda has been sick with the flu most of the week. We are grateful to God she’s feeling stronger; however, she is still fighting a cold and cough. Please ask the Lord to grant physical strength and stamina. Beyond that, pray the teaching from God’s Word would deeply impact the lives and marriages of those who come. Pray for spiritual protection from any of Satan’s attempts to hinder God’s work in hearts.

missionsMission Conference. Next Monday through Wednesday is our annual Missions Conference at Heritage College and Seminary. I tell new students that the Missions Conference will be one of the top highlights for the entire year at Heritage. Please pray for the missionary representatives who will be on campus to speak with students. Ask the Lord to give all of us a greater heart for the mission of God.  We want to be part of bringing the gospel to people who need Jesus both locally and globally.

Thank you for partnering with us in ministry through your prayers!

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Better Men

better manLast night at the Grammy awards, the country group Little Big Town performed their recent hit “Better Man.” The song, nominated for best country song of the year, tells the story of a wife who ran from her marriage but still wishes things had worked out differently. If only her husband had been a “better man.” Sadly many women who hear this song will say they’ve lived this story.

This coming weekend, Linda and I are scheduled to speak at a marriage conference. Our goal is to present the biblical teaching about a beautiful, durable marriage. In light of all the grim news reports of men acting badly in and out of marriage (#MeToo), some who hear what Scripture says about marriage will resist or reject the idea that men should be given leadership in the marriage or in the church.

One of the passages we cover in the marriage seminar—a passage that gives God’s vision for a beautiful marriage—is found in Ephesians 5:22-33. Verse 22 begins with instructions some find offensive: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Those who struggle with this command often point back to the previous verse, which calls all believers in the church to be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21).

How does verse 21 (mutual submission) relate to verse 22 (wives submit)? My answer comes in three parts.

First, verse 21 (submit to one another) sets the tone for the verses that follow (wives/husbands; children/parents; slaves/masters). Among Christians, God calls for a relational distinctiveness which contrasts with the way things usually happen in the wider society. For example, Ephesians 4:1-3 calls followers of Christ to show a humility and gentleness that runs counter to the #MeFirst attitude so common in our world. So Ephesians 5:21 should indeed shape our understanding of the dynamics in a Christian marriage.

Second, the call to mutual submission (Eph 5:21) does not obliterate all order and authority in the church or in the home. The Bible clearly instructs elders to provide leadership for congregations. Elders are to “rule well” (1 Timothy 5:17); Christians in the congregation must “obey your leaders and submit to them” (Hebrews 13:17). In marriage, God establishes the husband as “the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” (Eph 5:22). To see Ephesians 5:21 as a blanket call for a leaderless egalitarianism is to misread the message of Scripture.

Third, Ephesians 5:21 should be seen as setting the ethos for the kind of leadership exercised by those entrusted with authority in the church and home. Elders and husbands are to lead in a way that shows a deferential, sacrificial concern for the good of others. The Bible’s vision of godly leadership follows the example of Jesus, who though he was both Teacher and Lord, washed his disciples feet (John 13:13).

In short, God calls elders and husbands to become “better men” who lead sacrificially rather than selfishly. As Paul put it a few verses earlier in Ephesians 5, men (and women) need to be filled with the Spirit so they can live out God’s will (Eph 5:17-18). Better men love women better. Better men make for better marriages.

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An Invitation to a Marriage Conference

marriage mattersThis February, Linda and I are scheduled to speak at two marriage conferences. On February 3-4, we will be in Wyoming, Ontario (near Sarnia) at a Marriage Matters Conference hosted by the People’s Church of Wyoming.

The following weekend, February 9-11, we will speak at the Valentines reConnect Weekend at Fair Havens Conference Centre, near Beaverton, Ontario.

ValentinesWe’re convinced God’s Word provides the help we all need to make marriage durable and beautiful. As Christian marriages flourish, they point people to the great love between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). So we would invite you to invest in your marriage by joining us for one of these marriage conferences. Or would you pass this news along to others.

For more information, visit the People’s Church website or the Fair Havens Ministries website.

We’d ask you to pray for us as we prepare and present biblical truth at these conferences. Ask the Lord to work powerfully in hearts and strengthen marriages for His glory and the joy of His people.

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Glory in His Name

Sing to Him, Sing Praises to Him

Speak of all His wonders

Glory in His holy name;

Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.

1 Chronicles 16:9-10

On Monday, Heritage began the winter semester with 10 new college students joining in Reorientation week. The chapel service on Tuesday was filled with singing God’s praises.

On Wednesday, the weather brought a sudden change to freezing the rain, and while returning home Linda lost control of the car on a steep hill into our neighbourhood. God in His great mercy allowed a snowbank to hold her from sliding backwards down the hill. God in His great mercy protected everyone and their cars.

Within moments of returning safely home, a phone call revealed our daughter in law was in labor. In answer to our prayers, Jonathan Maynor Reed was born at 1:23 on Thursday, January 11th in Princeton, New Jersey. We have joined the celebration and are delighted to be grandparents.

We have so many reasons to glory in His name, and for which to be glad. Rejoice with us! For all of you who have prayed for Heritage and for us, we are so very grateful!

Here are a few pictures of baby Jonathan!

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Jenny, Ryan and Jonathan

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Rick and a future Heritage student

 

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Rick and Linda’s Recommended Reads

With a name like Reed, it makes sense we’d love books. Working at Heritage, with its wonderful theological library, is the bibliophile equivalent of being given a free pass to the Mandarin buffet. So many tasty delights from which to choose.

While our first and best read this past year has been God’s Word (see the previous post), we have both benefitted from reading additional books in 2017. Here are our top picks in a variety of categories. Do your heart a favour and pick up one (or more) of these good books in 2018.bainton

Top Biography: Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton. 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Bainton’s captivating biography on Martin Luther’s life, teaching and ministry was a perfect way to understand more of the back story of this world-changing event. Here I Stand goes down as our favourite book for the year.

barrett 12Top Spiritual Life Book: God’s Word Alone, by Matthew Barrett. One of the five solas of the Reformation was Sola Scripture (Scripture Alone). Barrett explains what it means for Scriptures to be our final authority and why this is essential to the life of Christians and the health of the Church. In an age when God’s Word is denied or dismissed, God’s Word Alone provides soul-strengthening support for all who base their lives on God’s inspired, inerrant Word.

sandersTop Theology Book: The Deep Things of God, by Fred Sanders. You would expect a book about the Trinity to be deep, but you might not expect it to both engaging and encouraging. Sanders, who teaches at Biola University, provides a thought-provoking, heart-enriching reflection on the grandeur and greatness of our Triune God.holland

Top History Book: The Battle of Britain by James Holland. A clear, readable account of five key months in WWII (May – October 1940). The book begins with Hitler’s blitzkrieg through Europe and ends with RAF’s heroic defence of Britain. In between, Holland describes the miraculous evacuation from the shores of Dunkirk. Wiarda

Top Bible Study Book: Interpreting Gospel Narratives by Timothy Wiarda. An insightful explanation on how to accurately interpret passages from the Gospels. Perfect for anyone who preaches or teaches from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.

gospel convTop Outreach Book: Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations, by Jimmy Scroggins and Steve Wright. A short, practical book on how to make the Great Commission more of an everyday commission.  We are using this book with all our first year students at Heritage.  It’s our desire to see each of them grow in their confidence and competence in pointing people to Christ, beginning with everyday conversations.

crowTop Fiction Book: Jaber Crow by Wendell Berry. While neither of us read much fiction, this novel came recommended by one of our favourite musicians–Andrew Peterson. The book starts slow but gains interest as the story unfolds. Some thoughtful, probing reflections on the nature of progress, the importance of community and the meaning of love.

Happy Reading!

 

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