Prayer Update January 13, 2017

Linda and I have spent this week on the campus of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s been taking her comprehensive exams for her EdD program (Doctor of Education). I’ve been meeting with various administrators and professors at Southern. We’ve enjoyed the “southern hospitality” and the break from the winter chill, but are eager to be back training men and women for life and ministry at Heritage.

Here are some praise and prayer updates for this week:

  1. We are rejoicing that Linda successfully completed all three of her comprehensive praiseexams this week. It was a big hill to climb, but God’s grace gave her the strength and endurance to keep climbing. Now she is “ABD” (all but dissertation). Actually, she’s turned in the first three chapters of her dissertation, which focuses on what complementarian seminaries across North America are doing in the way of specialized training for women. Thank you for praying for her!
  1. Next Tuesday I launch a new series of messages in chapel entitled “Unfinished Business.” Each week we will look at one “unfinished” aspect of our character as unfinished-businessChristians (anger, pride, cowardice, unforgiveness, etc). This week I’ll give an overview of how God brings about character change in the lives of believers (from Romans 6-8). Please ask the Lord to use these messages in transformative ways. (By the way, you can listen to the messages on Heritage’s website)
  1. Next week I (Rick) meet with our executive team for a two-day, strategic planning and prayer retreat. I’d ask you to pray that we would be guided by God’s Spirit to face the future with discernment, faith and courage. I believe the Lord has more for Heritage to do in the area of training spiritual leaders for Christ’s church.

Thank you for praying for and with us!

 

 

 

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The Image of a Woman

image_of_a_womanLast summer I was asked to write an article for SEVEN, the magazine published by Promise Keeper’s Canada’s.  Their upcoming Fall 2016 issue was going to centre on the theme of “celebrating women.”  My article dealt with the practical implications of the biblical truth that men and women were both created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).

While I believe that God’s Word does call godly men to give leadership in the home and Church (elders), I am also convinced it teaches that men and women share equally in God’s image.  We are equal in essence, united in mission and complementary in roles.

How does the truth of the image of God play out in our homes?  You’ll find three specific ways in the article entitled, “The Image of a Woman.”

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Prayer Update January 5, 2017

Next week begins the new semester at Heritage. We’re prayerfully anticipating that God will do great things in the lives of the students who are preparing for a lifetime of service.

Here are some requests that I would ask you to remember in your prayers:

  1. Pray for a strong launch to the new semester. Ask the Lord to help our professors teach with passion and excellence. Ask the Lord to give students an eagerness to learn and change. Pray we would continue to sense God’s presence on campus!
  1. Timg_1581he remodelling work on the Student Centre is progressing well. The structural changes have been made, painting finished and flooring put down. Currently work is being done to add new lighting and décor. The furniture (booths, chairs, fireplace) is scheduled to arrive next week. Pray for a successful completion of the project. THANK YOU to all who gave in our Summer Surge initiative; your gifts have made this significant upgrade to our campus possible!
  1. Linda and I head to Louisville, Kentucky this weekend so she can take her comprehensive exams for the doctor of education program. Preparing for these exams has been a monumental undertaking. Please pray for God’s sustaining grace as she finishes studying and takes the exams (next Monday through Thursday).

Thank you for being part of our prayer support team as we being this New Year. May our Lord guide and guard each of you as you live for Him.

 

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Why do so many churches settle for mere respectability?

Respectability is generally a good thing. In fact, when the Bible highlights the essential qualities needed in church leaders, “respectable” makes the short list (1 Timothy 3:12).  But while it’s commendable to be respectable, it’s not enough.  In fact, when a church settles for respectability it can get into hot water with Jesus.  Just ask the folks at the First Church of Laodicea.

The Laodicean church scored high on the respectability scale.  Morally, they were upright.  Socially, they were upstanding.  Financially, they were upscale.  As a result, they were quite satisfied with themselves; they didn’t think they needed anything (Revelation 3:17).

There was just one major problem:  Jesus wasn’t happy.  He saw this church as lacking fervency.  He likened them to water that was neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm.  If they remained spiritually tepid, he threatened to spit them out of his mouth (Rev. 3:16).

lukewarmSo why do churches sometimes settle for respectability?  Perhaps because it’s easier to be lukewarm than boiling hot.  It’s less costly to be half-hearted rather than fully devoted to Christ. Life seems more manageable when Christianity is treated as moderately important.  But as C. S.  Lewis pointed out, “Christianity, if false is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

How do churches keep from settling for mere respectability?  We take to heart the words Jesus spoke to the lukewarm believers at Laodicea:  “Be earnest and repent.  Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:19-20).

Jesus offers spiritual intimacy to believers and churches that keep their spiritual fervency.  Let’s not settle for anything less.

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

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Behold the Lamb of God

The last time Christmas was on a Sunday, I preached a message at the Metropolitan Bible Church on The Word as Lamb.  The passage of Scripture we studied was from the first chapter of John’s gospel.

When you think of “Christmas chapters” in the Bible, John 1 is not usually the first to come to mind.  Matthew 1 or Luke 2 are more familiar.  But John 1 helps us understand Christmas in a deeper, fuller way.  It speaks of the majestic mystery of the incarnation: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14).  It also points to Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (1:29).

So John 1 is not only a Christmas text, it’s also a Good Friday passage. It points to the reason Jesus came to earth–to die for our sins and provide forgiveness for all who “believe in his name” (1:12).

Here’s the sermon from Christmas Sunday, 2011.

We finished the service with this beautiful song from Andrew Peterson:  Behold the Lamb of God.

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A Christmas Greeting from the Reeds

falaChristmas isn’t easy.  For some students, going home is hard.  For others, coming back is hard.  Some face confusion, disappointment and fear.  Christmas can reveal rifts in our relationships and patterns of pain.

The first Christmas wasn’t easy. There was no “I’ll be home for Christmas” or “Falalalala-lalalala.”  There was confusion, disappointment, and fear.  “Do not be afraid” is spoken three times in the Christmas narratives (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:30, 2:10).

believe-2One of the decorative signs you see at Christmas is:  BELIEVE.  Some take this as a reminder to believe in “the Christmas magic” or in St. Nick.  Actually, we need to believe the “good news of great joy” announced on the first Christmas: Christ the Saviour is born.  Light now shines in the darkness.  Hope now lives in the hearts of all who believe in His name (John 1:12).

Together, we send our Christmas greetings to all in the Heritage community.   May you be given silent nights to renew your wonder of Christ.   May you have the joy of telling the good news to others.  May you BELIEVE He is able to do “immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

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Why do so many people get depressed around Christmas time?

blue-christmasChristmas can be a time of great highs and lows. On one hand, it’s a time of celebration for many. At the same time, it’s a season of struggle for others. While some are delighted, others are depressed.

Why do so many people struggle with depression at Christmas? While there are undoubtedly many reasons, I suspect that much of the internal darkness is linked to the way Christmas reminds us of our losses and our loneliness.

For those who’ve lost a loved one, Christmas doesn’t feel the same. There’s an empty chair at the table and emptiness in their hearts. For others, Christmas surfaces the loneliness they submerge most of the year. All the talk about “going home for Christmas” can heighten a sense of aloneness in those who are geographically or relationally distant from family or friends.

Christmas raises our hopes and longings for love. When those hopes seem dashed and those longings go unfulfilled, Christmas leaves us struggling with depression rather than celebrating with delight.

But there is light in the darkness. There is hope that won’t disappoint.   And it’s found in retracing and embracing the true Christmas message.

immanuelThe good news of Christmas is that God has come to be with us. The Bible tells us that Jesus was born as the promised Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).   And the word “Immanuel” literally means “God with us.”

Jesus brought the presence of God into our world on the first Christmas. He demonstrated the love of God by dying for our sins and rising from the dead. Now He promises to bring the life of God into the heart of everyone who receives Him by faith (John 1:12).

Jesus can meet our deepest longings for love. Not just at Christmas time, but all year round.

(This article is published in That’s A Good Question by Rick Reed)

 

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