The Global Wave of Praise

Easter Weekend coincided with Major League Baseball’s opening weekend this year. Since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed watching MLB games, both on TV and in person. (In fact, my two sons and I have a goal to visit as many baseball stadiums across North America as we can—we’re up to about 15 so far). wave 2

If you’ve gone to a Jays game, or any major league baseball game for that matter, you’ve probably witnessed “the wave.” It often happens late in the game, when the home team is so far behind that fans have lost interest in the game. So they do the wave.

One section of the stadium (usually the bleachers) starts it off: people in this section all stand and lift their hands in unison. Then, fans seated next to them stand and do the same thing. If it catches on, the wave of lifted hands spreads across the entire stadium.

wave praiseIt hit me on Easter Sunday morning as I headed off to church, that I was part of a global wave of praise. Starting in Tonga and then New Zealand, Christians gathered in churches (or homes in countries where church gatherings are illegal) to lift their hands in praise our risen Lord.

As daylight moved east, Christians in Australia had their turn to lift their voices and hands in praise. The global wave of praise continued to roll on across the globe, through Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America. Christians in American Samoa officially finished the Easter wave, as praise literally circled the globe.

Next time you are at a stadium and see baseball fans do the wave around the stadium, let it remind you of the greater wave of praise that covers the entire earth. “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!” (Psalm 113:3).

Posted in Life Lessons, Personal, Prayer | Leave a comment

The Music of Resurrection

res lettHis heart beats, His blood begins to flow
Waking up what was dead a moment ago
And His heart beats, now everything is changed
‘Cause the blood that brought us peace with God
Is racing through His veins 
And His heart beats

So begins His Heart Beats, the opening song of Andrew Peterson’s new album, Resurrection Letters, Vol 1. The album is a joyful, Scripture-saturated musical celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

All weekend long, Linda and I have thoroughly enjoyed listening (and re-listening) to the nine songs that comprise the album. We heard Andrew Peterson sing several of these songs at the ABHE conference we attended in February. During the concert, he mentioned the Easter album would be released on Good Friday. So on Friday night we turned down the lights, turned up the music, and let the songs about Jesus’ death and resurrection fill the room—and our souls.

The cross is central to our faith as Christians. Without Christ’s death for sins on Good Friday, we would all be dead in our “trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), without “hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:3). But because of Christ’s sacrificial death, we can be forgiven: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

While the cross is central to our faith, the resurrection is essential to our hope. As 1 Corinthians 15:17 explains: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20). The darkness of Good Friday gave way to dawning of Easter Sunday. We serve a risen Saviour.

My favourite song on Resurrection Letters, Vol. 1, is the choral anthem of worship entitled, “Is He Worthy?” The chorus of the song affirms that only Jesus—the slain Lamb of God and victorious Lion of Judah—is worthy to receive all blessing and honour and glory (Revelation 5).

As I write this, Easter Sunday is coming to a close. However, the sun should never set on our adoration and adulation of Jesus. He is risen. He is risen indeed.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Life Lessons, Personal | Leave a comment

Prayer Update March 23, 2018

Greetings from snowy Regina, SK where I (Rick) have come to speak at the Promise Keepers Canada “ALL IN” Conference.  I deeply respect the way PK Canada, under the leadership of Kirk Giles, calls men to become “better men” through a vibrant relationship with Christ and other Christian men. Kirk will be teaching a course on the “Discipleship of Men” this spring at Heritage.  This course is designed to help local churches establish and strengthen their ministry to men.

THANKI want to thank you for praying for Linda and me as we traveled on the West Coast during the past two weeks.  As I mentioned in my last post, I went into the trip feeling under the weather.  God graciously answered prayer and gave me strength to preach at the Being Clear About the Gospel Conference in Vancouver.  Thank you for praying!

Here are several prayer requests for the coming week:

Fall Enrolment:  We’ve been encouraged by the good number of students who have applied to the college for next fall.  I’m convinced that a year (or more) at Heritage could strengthen a young adult’s faith for a lifetime.  Please join us in asking God to send many more students to Heritage to be trained for life and ministry.

ESL:  Linda leads a group of students who teach ESL (English as a Second Language) at a public library and on our campus. These conversational English classes have built new friendships and opened up meaningful conversations.  Pray for Linda and the Heritage students to make a lasting difference in many lives.

 

Posted in Heritage, Personal, Prayer | Leave a comment

North to South, East to West

We’ve not written for a while as we’ve been in a season of significant travel – north to south and now east to west.

We recently had the joy of stopping by to see our grandson in Princeton on our drive to the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) conference in Orlando.

gone homeWhile traveling to Florida we received the news that Billy Graham had “gone home” to glory. Both of us have been deeply impacted by the life, ministry and example of Billy (and Ruth). When we heard there was a public visitation on the Monday and Tuesday before the funeral, we routed our drive home to stop by the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte to pay our respects.

I preached a message on Finishing Well last Sunday at Temple Baptist Church in Cambridge.  I encouraged all of us to finish well (2 Tim 4:1-8) and highlighted the life and legacy of Billy Graham.  You can listen to it here.

This week we are off to the West Coast where I am scheduled to speak at the Being Clear about the Gospel Conference in Vancouver. While we are there, we hope to visit both of our mothers and families.

I’d ask for your prayers — for gospel clarity and witness and for endurance I am feeling a bit under the weather. I’m slated to preach five times at the conference and will need God’s grace and strength to be able to do this!

Would you continue to pray for God’s work at Heritage?  We are thrilled by the evidences of grace we see on campus. Students have a heart for Christ and for the gospel, and God is opening amazing doors in our community.  Pray for us to raise up labourers for this task (and delegate wisely).  Ask God to continue His good work in many lives.

Thank you for your prayers. Your partnership and friendship is a great blessing to us.

Posted in Heritage, Life Lessons, Ministry Matters, Personal, Prayer | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Life Lessons, Ministry Matters | Leave a comment

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.

 

Posted in Heritage, Personal, Prayer | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Heritage, Ministry Matters, Prayer | Leave a comment