Prayer Update April 28

Grad 2017Graduation weekend has arrived!

Today we officially launch into graduation events at Heritage.  We’ve prayed and prepared.  Now we are anticipating a wonderful weekend of consecration and celebration.

Tonight is our Grad Banquet, where grads from the college and seminary are joined by family and friends for a memorable evening.  After a buffet dinner, we will hear from valedictorian speakers (one for the college and one for the seminary).  Our academic dean will hand out a number of awards to graduates who excelled during their time at Heritage.  We’ll close the evening with a special time of consecration and commissioning.

Tomorrow (Saturday, April 29th) is Graduation Day.  This year we have 66 students graduating from the college and seminary–one of our largest groups ever.  Dr. Rick Buck, lead pastor at Emmanual Baptist Church in Barrie will be our guest speaker.  We’ll also hear from some of the talented musicians who have trained at Heritage.

On Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, students who are part of our SERVE Experience will fly out of Toronto for their summer missions trips.  Half the group is headed to Japan; the others will fly south to Brazil.

HeritagePlease pray that the Lord will be honoured in our graduation ceremonies.  Also, join me in praying that each Heritage graduate would be faithful and fruitful servants of Christ and His Church.  We evaluate our effectiveness as a school by the value we bring to the churches.

Thank you for being part of our prayer team throughout this school year.  The Lord answered so many of our petitions and worked in powerful ways in many lives!

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Praying to win in sports?

pray_hockeyAs we go deeper into the Stanley Cup playoffs, here’s a question that Christian athletes (as well as Leaf and Sens fans!) have to face: Is it O.K. to pray for your team to win?

My answer is that it’s a great idea for athletes to pray to win—as long as they keep in mind what winning really means.

When we talk about winning, we usually mean coming in first. We see winners as those wind up in first place and walk away with the Stanley Cup, a gold medal or a championship ring.

While this kind of winning is exciting, it’s not enduring. Today’s winners are soon forgotten. Do you remember who won the Stanley Cup five years ago? Or who won the World Series two years ago? When winning is defined as coming in first, it doesn’t last.

But there is a kind of victory that endures. There is a kind of winning worth praying about. Here are three ways Christian athletes can pray to win.

First, they can pray to win in giving their best effort. 1 Corinthians 9:25 observes that “everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” It’s a personal victory when an athlete gives his or her best effort in both practice and competition.

Second, they can pray to win against the temptation to cheat. 2 Timothy 2:5 reminds us that “if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” It’s a moral victory to play fair.

Finally, they can pray to win in bringing glory to Christ. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” So shooting a puck or throwing a fastball can be done with a desire to bring honour to Jesus’ name. Christian athletes can compete with a passion to please Jesus and to bring Him praise. I admire athletes like Oral Hershiser, Reggie White or Tim Tebow who have aspired to honour Christ in the way they played.

Winning is not ultimately about coming in first; it’s about putting Christ first. When athletes have this attitude, they simply can’t lose.

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Prayer Update April 21

We are headed down the homestretch at Heritage.  Finals week wraps up today. Graduation is only a week away.

Would you help us finish well by praying for us?  Here are several timely requests for the coming week.roof

ROOF REPAIR:  This Saturday, we will have a team of men up on the roof replacing worn shingles.  We are grateful for those volunteering their time to do the important job. Please pray for good weather and for safety for all who are working.

summer

 

SUMMER JOBS:  Many of our students will be working at churches or Christian camps this summer.  Some are heading abroad on a summer missions trip.  Other students are still looking for summer jobs to earn money to for next fall. Please ask the Lord to guide and provide for each one.  (By the way, if you want to help refill our scholarship account to help worthy students, you can donate online here).

GRADUATION GIFTS:   Linda and I are working on a special (somewhat secret) project this week–a gift for the graduates.  We plan to give these gifts at the Grad Banquet next Friday night. Please pray we finish things on time (I’ll write more about this project next Friday).

Thanks again for being part of our prayer team.  We count on your faithful prayer support.

 

 

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We Need More “Christmas and Easter” Christians

images-1 (1)Ever hear the phrase “Christmas and Easter Christians”?

It’s a description of folks who only show up at church twice a year: at Christmas and Easter.   Usually the phrase is spoken as a critique, not a complement. After all, how serious about your faith can you be if you only show up at church on Christmas and Easter?

But I’m convinced we need a whole lot more Christmas and Easter Christians. And I have the apostle Paul on my side. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul made a case that every follower of Christ should be a Christmas and Easter Christian. Here’s what he wrote in Philippians 2:5-8:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

In verse 5, Paul calls Christians to emulate the attitude of Christ. Specifically, the attitude we see most clearly in Jesus when we think about Christmas and Easter.

Christ’s Christmas attitude: Lay aside your rights and your glory

In verse 6, Paul explains that Jesus enjoyed all the rights and privileges of God the Father. He was “in very nature God” and possessed “equality with God.” But Jesus willingly laid aside His right and glory when he came to earth, “being born in the likeness of men.” (2:7). Jesus Christmas attitude was to lay aside his rights and take on the role of a servant.

Christ’s Easter Attitude: Lay down your life for others

If Paul talks about Christmas in verse 7, he focuses on the Easter story in verse 8: Jesus goes further than just coming to earth as a human, he goes to the cross as our sin-bearer and substitute. He became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Paul’s point in retelling the story of Christ’s birth and death is a pastoral and practical. He wants us to adopt the same attitude. Rather than seeking our own empty glory, we are to empty ourselves of selfish ambition and conceit (2:3). We are to stop looking out for only for our own interests, and look after the interests of others (2:4).

God knows that thinking and acting like Christ will be a tall order for us. Thankfully, God provides for us what he commands from us. As Paul goes on to say in verse 12: “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

By God’s grace, let’s all seek to become Christmas and Easter Christians.

 

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Living with A Living Hope

HOpeHope.  

Hope is something everyone needs.  But sometimes hope is hard to hold on to.

We want to remain hopeful but face situations that seem hopeless.  We get our hopes up and have our hopes dashed.  So we hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

If you were to ask me why Easter is such a big deal, I would tell you that Easter is the reason I have hope.  Easter brings hope to life.  Easter lets me live with a living hope.

Last Sunday I spoke at Alma Bible church on how Easter brings hope to life.  If you could use an infusion of fresh hope, listen in!

http://www.almabiblechurch.ca/multimedia-archive/living-with-a-living-hope/

Happy (hopeful) Easter!

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The Silence of God on Good Friday

And the Man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

These words, from Andrew Peterson’s song The Silence of God, always move me to wonder and worship.  Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, carried our sins and bore our suffering on the cross (Isaiah 53:4).  He was forsaken by the Father (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) so we could be forgiven by the Father.

So when God seems silent, we can still hold on to the truth that He is present.  And that’s one of the reasons we call this day Good Friday.

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The Scandalous, Wonderful Cross

imgresIt’s not a big surprise that the cross is the most enduring symbol of the Christian faith. But it should be. We’ve grown so accustomed to seeing crosses that we often forget the fact that the cross was originally scandalous and repugnant to everyone.

The cross was Rome’s brutal way of executing its most despised criminals. Death on a cross was designed to be not only excruciating but also humiliating. Roman citizens were protected by law from ever being crucified. Some wanted to be protected from even hearing about a crucifixion. Cicero, the Roman poet, wrote, “Let the cross be banished from thoughts of Romans….”imgres-1

Yet today we see crosses everywhere. They are mounted on church buildings and walls; they are worn as earrings or necklaces.

So why have Christians chosen to identify themselves with something so demeaning and despised as the cross? Why would the apostle Paul write, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14)?

The answer is that the cross has a dual meaning to Christians: Pain and gain. Disgrace and Grace.

The cross reminds us of the pain and disgrace Jesus endured. It also speaks to us of the grace and gain we receive as a result. As Peter said, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

On the day we humans did our worst to Jesus, he did his best for us.

All who embrace the message of the cross, trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for their sins, are given forgiveness and eternal salvation. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

That’s why we call the day Jesus died, “Good Friday.” And that’s why the cross remains the enduring symbol of the Christian faith.

 

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