Prayer Update February 17, 2017

We have several big events on campus next week. In this update, I’ll give you a brief overview of both events and invite you to join us in praying about them.

Grand Opening

the-hOn Tuesday, February 21, we will have the Grand Opening of our newly remodeled Student Centre. It’s amazing to see the transformation that has taken place.

Students are already gathering in the Student Centre (called “the H”) to talk, study or just relax. They will even be able to enjoy a specialty coffee at the new Café.

After chapel on Tuesday, our students, staff and faculty will gather in the Student Centre to give thanks to God and officially dedicate the new Student Centre to the Lord.

coffee

Pray that this beautiful space would increase the sense of community on campus.

If you are in the area next Tuesday evening between 6pm and 10pm, stop by and see it for yourself–and enjoy a latte or hot chocolate.

Love Hespeler Breakfast

hes-signOn Thursday, February 23rd, we will host our first Heritage Community Leaders Breakfast. This is part of our Love Hespeler initiative (Hespeler is the village near the school). The mayor, several city councilmen and some business leaders have signed up to come. We will serve them breakfast, tell them about the school (including testimonies from students) and give them a tour of our campus.

Pray that we would have a good turn out (many have been invited). Ask the Lord to  help us continue to reach out to our neighbours with the love and light of Christ.

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The Preacher and Personal Soul Care (part 1)

In my first year of university I was a music major with an emphasis on voice. I quickly learned I didn’t have what it takes to be a premier vocalist. First, there was the small matter of talent. Or more accurately, the lack of it. I just didn’t have the raw abilities that could be refined into something musically sublime. But there was another problem. I wasn’t ready to commit to the rigours of keeping my vocal chords in top shape.

violenMy voice teacher viewed her vocal chords as a fine instrument, the vocal equivalent of a vintage Stradivarius. She understood that if she damaged her instrument, she wouldn’t be able produce vocally. If her throat became sore, she couldn’t soar. So she made commitments she saw as both logical and necessary. They struck me as austere and extreme. For starters, she wouldn’t have lunch in the school cafeteria. It was way too noisy, causing her to strain her voice to have a conversation. So she didn’t join other students and faculty for lunch.

Noisy restaurants aren’t inherently evil, but they can be hard on your voice. And if you are banking on keeping your chords in top condition, that’s a problem. As an eighteen-year old, I wasn’t about to skip lunch in the cafeteria, or sit there silently, just to protect my vocal chords. That seemed unnatural. Even oppressive.

At the end of my first year of university, I switched my major from music to ministry.

Over the years, I’ve come to a better appreciation of what my voice teacher was thinking. I’ve come to see her extreme efforts to protect her voice as a practical expression of her commitment to being at her best vocally so she could make beautiful music.

As a preacher I have a primary instrument as well. And it’s not my voice. It’s true that I use my voice and have had to learn to treat it well to avoid vocal strain, especially when preaching multiple times on a Sunday. But my primary instrument as a preacher is my soul—the non-physical part of my being that has the job of capturing and conveying the message of God’s Word. My soul is my Stradivarius, the instrument God has given me to give voice to His gospel.

Like my voice teacher, I need to keep my soul—my instrument—in good shape or I will be a poor preacher. People may still hear me, but I won’t be able to play the music of the gospel in a clear, compelling manner. So there are three commitments I’ve made that combine to help keep my soul prepared for preaching.  Here’s the first.

I will cultivate a devotional life bigger than my sermon preparation.

man-with-bibleAs a preacher committed to exposition, my sermon preparation necessarily gets me into the Word of God. What a delight. Can you believe we preachers get paid to study God’s Word? Many weeks, the biblical study I do for sermon preparation is spiritually enriching for my soul. God’s Word begins its work in me—I’m the first hearer of the message.

Having said that, I have found it important to have a devotional life in the Scripture that is larger than my sermon preparation. So I begin each morning reading and studying a passage in Scripture I’m not preparing for a message. I come to God’s Word to hear His message to me, not to get a message for others. I come as one of His sheep, not one of His shepherds. Sometimes what I glean in this time will later make its way into a sermon, but that’s not the focus.

I fear that without regular time in God’s Word separate from sermon preparation, I might gradually become a “professional Christian.” I could develop a utilitarian approach to God’s Word—seeing the Bible only as a tool for getting sermons ready to preach.

To protect my soul against coming to Scripture only for work and not worship, I must have unhurried time to linger in God’s presence, listening very personally to His voice, as it comes to me through His Word. Here is where I commune with God in secret. Here is where my soul is shaped in private ways that ultimately show up in the public arena of life and ministry.

George Mueller, who lived a busy life leading an orphanage and preaching the gospel, once wrote that his number one job each day was to get his soul happy in God.  A devotional life bigger than my sermon preparation helps my soul be repeatedly filled with the goodness and glory of God.

Next week, I’ll highlight two other commitments that help a preacher do personal soul care.

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Prayer Update February 10, 2017

This has been a big week at Heritage. From Monday through Wednesday we had our annual Missions Conference on campus. Once again, it was an inspiring time. I so appreciated the missionaries (from over 20 agencies) who spent their days (and nights!) conversing with students, challenging them to consider how they can take Christ’s love to a needy world.

The Missions dinner on Wednesday evening featured Brazilian cuisine—in honour of the students who will be part of the SERVE Experience to Brazil this summer.
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After dinner, we had our famous “Cake Auction” where we bid on colourful, creative cakes made by students and staff. Linda made a chocolate, cherry and coffee trifle that went for over $800. A number of people teamed up to buy the final cake for over $1600.

Why pay such outrageous amounts? All the money raised goes to help Heritage students serving on overseas missions trips this summer. The entire Missions Conference was a sweet time and the auction was the “icing on the cake”!

Please join with us in praising God for impacting many hearts during the Missions Conference.

Also, pray for long-term impact in our lives from the conference. Ask the Lord to continue to raise up labourers for His harvest field from Heritage.

img_1617(Here are some of the cakes that students/staff made this year for the Cake Auction.  Linda and I have learned that chocolate cakes go for the highest bids.  So she no longer makes her delicious carrot cake [the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted] but goes with chocolate–the people’s choice!)choc

 

 

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Prayer Update February 3, 2017

Things are busy and buzzing at the school these days.  The renovations on the Student Centre are continuing to progress; all we are (patiently/impatiently) waiting for is the fixtures and furniture to be delivered and installed.  We are also gearing up for one of the highlights of the school year: our annual, student-run missions conference (next Monday through Wednesday).

globeLast week I asked you to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out labourers into His harvest field.  This week, I’d ask you to continue on that theme by focusing your prayers for Heritage on our upcoming missions conference.

Over twenty missions agencies are sending representatives to be part of the conference. We will have plenary sessions (Pastor Dave Roberts from West Highland Baptist Church is our speaker), seminars, a missions bazaar and our famous “cake auction” (more on that next week).

Pray that the Lord would work in deep, life-changing ways in students, staff and faculty.

Ask the Lord to move all of us to be witnesses for Jesus in the village of Hespeler (our Jerusalem).

Pray that He would raise up some to go to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Thank you for partnering in this important work through your prayers!  God is answering and encouraging us!

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What does the Christian faith say about marriage to someone outside your faith?

marriageThe short answer is that the Bible tells Christians to marry in the faith, not outside of it.  If a Christian chooses to marry, he or she is to marry someone who “belongs to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39).

I realize some see this as rather restrictive.  They question why God would limit a Christian’s options when it comes to finding a marriage partner.  So let me explain the reason for the restriction.

God designed marriage to be characterized by oneness.  He wanted a man and woman to experience oneness in spirit, soul and body.  This emphasis on oneness comes out in Genesis 2:24:  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  Jesus emphasized oneness in marriage when he said a husband and wife are “no longer two, but one” (Matthew 19:6).

Now anyone who’s married will tell you that achieving oneness in marriage is not easy or automatic.  We all enter marriage with a stubborn tendency to be self-centered.  And our selfishness hinders oneness.  If oneness is challenging when both husband and wife are Christians, it’s infinitely harder when one partner doesn’t belong to the Lord Jesus.  The couple may have much in common, but there will be a disconnect on the spiritual level that puts true oneness out of reach.  That’s why Christians are to marry in the faith.

What should Christians do who have already married outside the faith?  The Bible is clear that God expects them to stay in the marriage and work at making it as solid and satisfying as possible (1 Corinthians 7:12-13).  They should also seek to quietly live out their faith (1 Peter 3:1), trusting that their partner may eventually choose to join them in following Jesus.

(This article is from Dr. Reed’s book, That’s a Good Question)

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Prayer Update 27, 2017

Thank you for your prayers for the ministry of Heritage and for the Reeds!  We greatly appreciate your partnership through prayer.  I echo Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:11:  “you help us by your prayers.”

We had a very profitable Board retreat this Wednesday and Thursday–a time to prayerfully make strategic decisions for the school.  There was a strong sense of gratitide for what God is doing at Heritage and great anticiption for what He could do in the coming months.

Here are several requests for the coming week:

  1.  The renovations to our Student Centre are almost complete.  Construction is finishing up this weekend and fixtures and furniture are scheduled to arrive next week.  We sense the Student Centre will enhance commuinity life on campus.  Please pray that the project will be completed soon so our students can enjoy it! (I’ll post some pics when the project is completed).
  2. studentsJesus told us to ask the Father to send labourers into His harvest field (Matthew 9:38). Pray that God would raise up many who want to be trained for service at Heritage. We’ve had a strong, early response in new student applications for next school year and would love to see this number continue to grow.  (If you know a young person who should consider coming to Heritage, let me know and we will follow up with him/her).

 

 

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Why does denial of appetites play such a large role in every religion?

Christianity doesn’t call us to curb all our appetites, just the unhealthy ones—the ones that can eat us alive.  Unhealthy appetites are those that prompt us to seek satisfaction apart from God’s plan for life.  When our appetites are not subject to God, we tend to make gods of our appetites (Philippians 3:19). And when our desires become our gods, we become their slaves.  Today’s appetites lead to tomorrow’s addictions.

The Christian approach to appetites can be summed up by three words:  eliminate, enjoy and elevate.elimin

Christians are to eliminate unhealthy appetites.  The grace that brings us salvation when we trust in Christ, also “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions” (Titus 2:9).  It empowers us to “put to death. . . sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).

enjoyChristians are also to enjoy healthy appetites.  We are free to satisfy our God-given desires within the healthy boundaries he’s established.  We eat with gratitude, not gluttony.  We earn money, without giving way to greed.  We enjoy sexual pleasure within a marriage relationship. As we obey God’s commands, we find he truly is the God who “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

ELEVATE_LOGOFinally, Christians are to elevate their appetites, hungering for the eternal delights waiting in heaven.  C. S. Lewis was right when he wrote, “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”

(This article is from Dr. Reed’s book, That’s a Good Question)

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