“Taking God with You on Vacation”

As we enter the summer vacation season, I’d like to talk to you about taking Sabbath.  I think most people are pretty good at taking a summer vacation.  Not everyone is able to do that, of course, as that may be their busy work season.  But I’ve noticed that in a northern climate like Central AB, most people try to go camping or to the lake at some point in the summer.  A great way to take a break and spend time with family and friends!  So if you go away, I encourage you to take God with you.  Now, of course he’s with you at all times.  Isn’t that what Pentecost, which we recently celebrated, is all about?  The gift and presence of the Holy Spirit?  Yes, but even though the Lord is always with us through the Spirit, I wonder if we’re always with him.  Do you make space for God in your life on a regular basis?  Seems to me that summer vacation is a great way to do that.  So, as you go on your summer vacation, I encourage you to have fun and play hard.  But I also encourage you to take time to rest in God’s presence as an individual and as a family, and take time to pray.  And to worship.  Sometimes we skip the worship service on vacation.  Instead, I encourage you to attend the worship service of a nearby local church, or make your own.  Some of the best worship services I’ve attended have been by a camp fire.  However you spend your summer, I pray you’ll feel the Lord close, and that you’ll make time for him. 

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“The Family of God”

Last week I talked about the Body of Christ.  This is Paul’s brilliant metaphor to describe the church of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12).  Just as a human body is made up of many parts, which work together for healthy functioning, so is each member of the church a part of the body of Christ.  All parts are needed for good health!  Another name for the church is the Family of God.  I also like this image, as God himself—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is a sort of divine family.  So too are we a holy family.  Sometimes we think of the church as a business, and we run it that way.  But actually, in reality it’s more of a family.  This is especially true for a small, strong congregation like our own.  Every church is made up of individuals that make up a church family.  Some are related by blood and others are not.  But no matter: we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ.  Therefore, since every church is a family, and since we all belong to a biological family, today we want to focus on family.  The Pastoral Team of this church recognizes that every church family and biological family struggles.  So we invited a trained pastor and counselor to come and encourage us.  Thank you for welcoming him and receiving his word from the Lord regarding the family.   

 

Trinitarian Prayer for Daily Use

In addition to being Father’s Day, yesterday (June 15) was Trinity Sunday.  So, I’d like to pass on this Trinitarian prayer, which I’m told was written by the late John Stott (1921-2011).  I pray it from time to time and love its beauty and depth.  I offer it to you as a one-time or daily prayer:

Good morning heavenly Father, good morning Lord Jesus, good morning Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.

Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen.

“Now You are Body of Christ”

Last week the Leadership Team of Wolf Creek Community Church hosted a “Volunteer Appreciation Night.”  What a wonderful evening!  We ate a delicious steak dinner courtesy of our Hospitality Team.  We connected as workers and leaders.  And we also had a debriefing conversation, as we reflected on another blessed year of ministry.  Things slow down here in the summer.  Programs pause.  People take a bit of Sabbath.  So June is the natural end of our ministry year.  So, it was good to thank the Lord for all he has done in and through us, and also to reflect on some of the challenges of ministry.  I really appreciated that conversation.  It was good to hear how the Lord had grown people spiritually through leadership.  It was instructive to hear about some of the challenges we face: frustration, fatigue or feeling alone in ministry.  The foundation for this conversation was 1 Corinthians 12, where St. Paul writes, “Now you are part of the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”  I love Paul’s angle.  Each person in a local church is important.  Each gift is needed.  Each volunteer valuable.  So, I’d like to thank you all for using your spiritual gift(s) to bless this church.  Thank you for being a part of the body of Christ!

 

“Prayer for Pentecost Sunday”

On my recent one-day spiritual retreat, I encountered a book called, Guerrillas of Grace, by Pastor Ted Loder.  What a marvelous collection of prayers!   As I spent the day in solitude and silence, I prayed often and from the heart, but I also prayed Pastor Ted’s prayers.  And they became my own.  I especially enjoyed the following prayer for Pentecost Sunday called, “Touch Me with a Truth that Burns Like Fire.”  I hope you enjoy it.  Please pray it with me as we prepare for Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.
 
Lord, 

send the gift of your Spirit
     to fill this place
          and myself
               and the world.
 
Touch me 
     with truth
          that burns like fire,
               with beauty
                         that moves me like the wind,
 
and set me free, Lord,
     free to try new ways of living;
          free to forgive myself and others;
               free to love and laugh and sing;
                    free to lay aside my burden of security;
                         free to join the battle for justice and peace;
                              free to see and listen and wonder again at the gracious mystery of things and persons. 
 
free to be,
          to give,
               to receive,
                    to rejoice as a child of your Spirit. 
 
And, Lord, 
teach me how to dance,
     to turn around and come down where I want to be,
          in the arms and heart of your people and in you,
 
that I may praise and enjoy you forever.
 
         

“Telling God’s Stories in the Public School”

On June 5 I finished another year of Christian Education Class.  My third year in the program!  What a privilege it is to tell God’s stories in the public school.  Once again, I’m amazed by the openness of the students and teachers, who welcomed me in and allowed me to minister to them.  This is a rare privilege!  I’ve talked with many pastors from many places about this program, and they’re all amazed that the Lacombe public schools allow us to enter their grade 5 and 6 classrooms and tell Bible stories.  I pray the program continues, so I can continue to tell God’s life-changing stories from the Bible.  I’d like to thank the Leadership Team and Education Team of Wolf Creek Community Church, who have supported me in this teaching ministry.  And I’d like to thank the staff and students of Terrace Ridge School, who have extended me much hospitality.  And I thank the Lord for calling me to teach his stories to his children, so they may come to know God their Creator and Jesus, their Savior.