First Week!

IMG_9461Labour Day Monday was move in day at Heritage.  Just after 9:00 am, students and their families began to arrive on campus.  They were greeted by Heritage student leaders who helped unload cars and carry boxes to the residence halls.

This year’s incoming class is the largest one in years and the residence halls are filled with new and returning students.

IMG_9754At noon, everyone headed to the patio for a BBQ lunch.  In the afternoon, we held a Dedication Service in the chapel. Faculty members, student leaders, new students and families were all invited to offer prayers of dedication to the Lord, seeking His grace and strength for the coming year. It was an inspiring launch for the new school year.

After several days of orientation, classes officially began on Thursday.  The very first class the new students attended was Christian Formation.  I (Rick) serve as one of the profs for this course that aims to help students develop in the 5 key areas we emphasize at Heritage College:  1.  Learn to Know God; 2.  Lead Yourself First; 3.  Love Others Well; 4. Lift Up the Church; 5. Live on Mission. 

By God’s grace and goodness, the year is off to a great start.  Energy and expectations are running high.  Would you join me in praying that God would work powerfully in the lives of the students He has led to study at Heritage? We desire to see each one equipped for life and ministry.

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Rightly Handling God’s Word

This fall marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation; in 1517, Martin Luther nailed the document containing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. While Luther had multiple concerns about the Roman Catholic church, at root was the question of authority: did ultimate authority come from the pope and church councils or did it come from the Scriptures?

Bible 2The foundational legacy coming out of the Reformation was the recovery of biblical authority. The Bible—God’s inspired and inerrant Word—provides the ultimate standard for truth. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

At Heritage College and Seminary we base all our teaching on God’s Word. While students read many books for their courses, One Book towers above them all.

We not only get our students reading God’s book, we help them understand and interpret it accurately. That’s because it’s possible to mishandle and misuse Scriptures. Satan did that when tempting Jesus (Matthew 4:6). He quoted from Psalm 91, twisting Scripture to tempt Jesus to jump off the temple.

Our students take a course on hermeneutics—the art and science of biblical interpretation. Our goal is to help each student fulfill Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

We want everyone trained at Heritage to base their lives and ministries on God’s Word. We also want them to “rightly handle the word of truth.”

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(Linda and I are reading an excellent book on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture: God’s Word Alone, by Matthew Barrett. We’d encourage you to read it this fall as part of your commemoration of the Reformation. Above all, make sure you are regularly reading God’s Word!)

 

 

 

 

 

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Gospel Men and Women

On Wednesday our staff and faculty gathered for a morning of training in preparation for the upcoming school year.  It was a joyful time as we celebrated evidences of God’s goodness to us as a school.  We have a strong enrollment for both college and seminary.  Our team also remodeled the chapel stage, constructed a new Student Learning Centre and developed a new Recording Studio.

gospelThe theme of our training day was “training gospel men and women.”  Heritage’s mission focuses on equipping men and women for life and ministry in the Church and the world.  The bumper sticker version of our mission statement could be “training gospel men and women”.

The gospel is the good news of what God has done through the death and resurrection of Christ to provide full salvation for all who trust in Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-3).  The gospel changes everything for the better!  When people embrace the gospel message, it not only changes where they will spend eternity (heaven rather than hell) but also begins to transform how they live on earth (others-centered rather than self-centered).  The fruit of the gospel shows up in changed lives, changed families and changed societies.

I reminded our faculty and staff that if we hope to train gospel men and women, we must be gospel men and women.  As Jesus said, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).  In other words, we reproduce after our own kind.   So I challenged all the Heritage team to love the gospel, learn the gospel, live in the gospel, teach the gospel and share the gospel with others.

appointmentOne of the specific challenges I gave our faculty and staff is to have a “gospel appointment” with a friend this Fall.  We got the idea of a gospel appointment from a campus ministry in California.  The idea is rather straight forward—you set up an appointment with someone you love and go over the good news of the gospel with them.  Since we will be asking Heritage students to have gospel appointments with friends, it only makes sense that our faculty and staff lead by example (remember Jesus’ words in Luke 6:40!).

Would you pray for us as we train gospel men and women at Heritage?  Would you also join us by having gospel appointments with people you love?

I’ll seek to post updates this year about how God is at work through these gospel appointments.  I’d also love to hear stories from you about how God is helping you live out and give out the gospel of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1000 x 1000

Below is a short video Linda and I recently recorded about an initiative we are excited about.  Please take a minute (actually 2 minutes and 31 seconds) to watch it.  We are convinced 1000 x 1000 could make a BIG difference in Heritage’s ministry of training men and women to serve Christ and His Church–right here in Canada and around the world.

 

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Getting Ready

We love summer but we are excited for fall. Our team at Heritage has spent the summer getting ready for the coming school year that begins soon.

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Construction on Student Learning Centre

Our student leaders arrive on campus on August 27th for a week of training. New students move into the on-campus apartments on Labour Day (Sept. 4). Classes begin on September 7th.

We prayed that God would send us a good number of men and women to train for His service. He’s answered our prayers. Enrollment has been strong for both the college and seminary.

Over the past few months, our team has been busy making some important upgrades to

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Construction on one room in the new recording suite

the campus. We’ve added a new recording studio for the music program. We’ve also built a new Student Learning Centre, a place for individual tutoring and small group instruction. Both projects were made possible by some generous donations from friends of Heritage. We’ll write more about these new additions to the campus in the coming weeks.

Last year, I (Rick) posted some praise and prayer requests each Friday. My hope is to do the same again this year. Without God’s favour, nothing we do will have eternal impact. So I would ask you to pray with us for the following:

  1. Final preparations on the part of our faculty and staff for the coming year.
  2. Finishing the building projects (recording suite; student learning centre, roofing of the Heritage Community Centre).
  3. New students preparing to come to Heritage—ask the Lord to give them eagerness to learn and courage to take a new step in life.

(Next week, Linda and I will be posting about an important initiative we’d like to let you know about. It’s called 1000 x 1000.)

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Summer 2017

No doubt you’ve noticed our silence on the blog; it’s been a summer of travel, weddings, interviews, and quiet at home.

The summer began with a road trip to conduct interviews and to meet Presidents and IMG_1688leaders at other institutions of Christian higher education all across the eastern U.S. and Canada. We started in Kentucky for Norm Millar’s graduation from Southern Seminary. Norm, who is the chairman of the Heritage board, received his Doctor in Ministry from Southern. We continued from there to visit many solidly Biblical institutions – Midwestern Seminary, Southwestern Seminary, Dallas Seminary, and New Orleans Baptist Seminary. From there, we drove north to be part of a College and Seminary Presidents’ gathering in the mountains of North Carolina at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove. All of these relationships have enriched our understanding of Bible centered training. In summary, schools that are holding strong on biblical principles are doing well.

We were home for less than a week before we left for two family weddings on the West Coast. Both of our nieces (one from each side) were married within 8 days of each other, both to godly young men who lead worship and assist with children’s ministry. We were so blessed to be part of the preparations, the party, and the post wedding celebrations.

mbcBack to Canada, we headed to Muskoka Bible Centre where Rick and Dr. Michael Haykin were the teachers for the first week in July. Dr. Haykin focused on the Reformers, this being the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. Rick’s messages focused on centrality of the Word of God and how we can engage with Scripture in life-changing ways. If you’d like to hear either of their messages, they are available from Muskoka Bible Centre.

Now gladly home, Linda has been finalizing her doctoral research and Rick has begun to prepare for a new school year. Enrollment for both the college and seminary is looking very strong for the Fall, for which we are grateful to God. Would you pray with us for a great year of training men and women to know, love and serve Christ? We have “a wide door for effective service open to us” (1 Cor 16:9).

chairIn the next few weeks, we’ll post further updates will on some exciting developments at Heritage. But for now, we trust that you are walking closely with Christ and enjoying the sweet, short Canadian summer with friends and family. Psalms 37 and 62 remind us to rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. We hope we’re all resting – in more ways than one!

 

 

 

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Bilingual Preaching

hello bonjour

To be truly effective, preachers have to become bilingual—fluent in two languages. I say that even though I only speak English.

What are the two essential languages a preacher must speak? Not English and French (even in Canada). Not Greek and Hebrew (though learning to read both is a great help to any preacher). The two languages a preacher must speak fluently are grace and truth.

Jesus spoke both. The opening chapter in John’s Gospel introduces Jesus as the Word, the One who communicated the Father’s heart. John tells us Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). His words and actions were both gracious and truthful.

But while Jesus was equally fluent in the vocabulary of grace and truth, most of us are not. We typically have either grace or truth as our mother tongue.

Preachers whose native language is grace convey warm-hearted compassion through their words, tone and gestures. No matter what passage they are preaching, their words come accented with grace. In a pastoral way, they speak hope into broken hearts.

On the other hand, preachers whose first language is truth excel in emphasizing God’s revealed will. No matter what passage they are preaching, they explain God’s righteous standards and expose our failure to reach it. Like biblical prophets, they fearlessly call people to turn away from sin and turn back to God.

The problem is that most of us are not bilingual when it comes to communicating both grace and truth. We speak one without an accent; the other is somewhat foreign to us. As a result we fail to communicate the fullness of God’s Word.

Those who gravitate towards grace (I’m in this group) tend to unintentionally under-emphasize God’s holy demands. Over time, our listeners can become complacent and self-satisfied. On the other hand, those strong in trumpeting truth, can leave people feeling chastened and defeated. Without a regular reminder of God’s gracious provision, our hearers will try to muscle up in their own strength or will be tempted to give up when their strength fails.

grace truthHow does a preacher who is strong in one of the two essential languages learn to preach well in the other? While I’m still learning to speak fluently and forcefully in both grace and truth, here are some things that I’ve found helpful.

First, commit yourself to taking your tone from the passage itself. Look for words that indicate the author’s emotional emphasis and then follow his lead. If the passage has a pastoral feel, let that come out in your sermon. If it shakes people up with prophetic fervour, let your sermon do the same. Being faithful expositors means we not only convey the message of the text, we also convey it’s mood.

Second, listen to preachers who excel in the language you are trying to learn. I have found several expositors who effectively convey a strong prophetic edge in their sermons without giving up on grace. While I can’t clone them, I’ve tried to learn from them.

Third, remember that learning a second language takes practice and causes discomfort. You will feel conspicuous and awkward at times. You will be tempted to revert to what comes most naturally to you. But push on to become homiletically bilingual. Prayerfully rely on Christ to help you be Christ-like in preaching with both grace and truth. Like all who learn a second language, you’ll be glad you did.

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