Saturday, December 4, 2010

Touching Base! Part 109

Reflection On The Dialogue

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

This past Sunday I interviewed Kent Bandy on the issue of how God transforms us. In Romans 12:1, 2 Paul says…
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Then in Galatians 4:19-20, he says….
“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!”

Take some time in your group to discuss the following questions.

  1. What or who has God used to bring transformation in your life?
  2. What, in your opinion, is the main issue why people get stuck in being transformed?
  3. If you were to run into someone you hadn’t seen in 10 years, what might they note about your own personal transformation? (We are not talking about weight gain or hair loss, but being transformed into the likeness of Christ) What might they note as being your area of greatest growth? Would they note any areas where you had gone backwards?

On Sunday we talked about how there can be spiritual issues pushing back on our transformation process. Note in the following texts how we are to relate to the Holy Spirit - John 14:16-17, Acts 1:8, 2 Cor. 13:14, Galatians 5:25.

However, as we seek to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, scripture makes it clear that there is an “unholy spirit” (Kingdom of Darkness) that wars against what God wants to do in our lives. Thus Paul’s warning (Eph. 4:26-28)…
"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.(a place to stand) He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Note God’s words to Cain in Genesis 4:7” If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

One text I think of regarding this issue is the Lord’s Prayer. When Jesus asked us to pray for the Kingdom of God to come, He fully realized that His Kingdom would not be coming into a vacuum, but into a context where the enemy was and is at work (Eph. 6:10-20).

Take some time to discuss the following:
  • If you were there on Sunday, what did Kent say that you would agree with regarding this issue? How about disagree?
  • If you grew up in a church was it open or closed to this kind of discussion, and why? Have you seen much abuse or neglect in this area?

Comment on the red flags we raised on Sunday:

  • Extreme emotionalism, abuse (theatrics, flaky and freaky)
  • Always or never – there’s always a demon to blame / there’s never a demon to blame.
  • The challenges of sensing - jumping to conclusions
  • What might you add?

Here was my final word on the issue… what would be yours?

We need to have a healthy respect for the spiritual realm in which life unfolds. We need to be biblically rooted, accountable in community and sensitive to context. (2 Tim 3:15, 16)


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Touching Base! Part 108

Where Does Grace Flow?

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

If you are sharing this TB in a group, tell everyone about a time when what you planned didn’t actually go as intended. There you were, front and center, watching what you planned for go south… evaporate into thin air:

  • Sometimes we set the agenda for our day, but never get to the first item
  • In a small group, other issues can come up that see the group set aside the agenda for the more urgent issue
  • Our long-term goals sometimes are set aside because of surprises that move us in a different direction
  • As we enter into the Christmas season, I think of Joseph and Mary, who, if they did have an agenda, certainly saw it “interrupted” for other pressing issues - like Emanuel in Mary’s womb.

Look at the text (Luke 7:36-50)
The big idea that we looked at this past Sunday was that no matter how low we sink, grace flows to that lowest part.

Read v.36-v.38
Describe this scene. Note the strong fragrance and the strong emotion. What are the indicators that her heart is wide open to Jesus? Do not miss that her brokenness is connected with sexual sin. Something many live with today. Based on your own background would you be comfortable with such emotion being demonstrated, indicating this woman’s brokenness?

Robert Coles, a psychiatrist at Harvard who devoted much of his life to working with people in the margins of society, begins each class at Harvard by quoting James Agee: “Not one of these… persons is ever quite to be duplicated, nor replaced, nor has it ever quite had precedent: but each is a new and incommunicably tender life, wounded in every breath and almost as hardly killed as easily wounded: sustaining, for a while, without defence, the enormous assaults of the universe.” (In Yancey, What Good Is God, page 79.)

Talk about what it feels like to be without defence to “the enormous assaults of the universe.”
What must she have seen in Jesus at this point that brought her to do what she did in this story?

Read v.39.
I think Simon represents some of the most difficult people to love in the whole world. Sometimes they are not “out there” but found in religious organizations. Does anybody reading this get angry at this point with Simon? Anybody feel like making him watch an eternity’s worth of Maple Leaf hockey games as a form of the eternal fires of hell?

These kinds of people can tell you what is wrong with the world but never come close to confessing what is wrong with themselves. As has been said, “it is easier to point the finger than to bend the knee.”

How do you think Simon would make this woman feel? Valued or worthless? Loved or blacklisted? Hope-filled or hopeless?

Imagine if she had tried to touch the Pharisee - what would have happened? Would he have represented one more assault of the universe… coming from the religious establishment? How many prostitutes in Kingston feel like the Church represents the assault of the universe? How many people with sexual sin or other sins would never speak to Christians, fearful of the response?

Simon’s heart is wide shut to this woman, but also to Jesus.

Read on to v.40-50
(Note: One denarius coin was worth a day’s wages)
Common hospitality included providing water for the feet – open sandals and dusty roads made for dirty feet. Oil for the dry skin on one’s head would also be a thoughtful act. A kiss was an affectionate or respectful form of greeting. Simon offers none of this - heart wide shut! I think this lack of attention to detail by Simon may indicate that the whole banquet was a trap for Jesus. In the end, Simon was the one trapped.

Some things to note
It was not the woman’s affections that saved her, but her faith (v.50). Faith was the cause of her works. See Gal. 5:6. Also note that the reason Jesus tells this man the parable is not because Simon is sinless, but to explain the woman’s actions. Strong fragrance and strong emotion are present because of a big debt reduction!

Jesus sees in her what he saw in the leper, the paralytic, the Centurion and his servant- infinite worth, value regardless of the assaults of the universe.

I love what C.S. Lewis says “ You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

It’s interesting that in this story we know the woman by what she did, however, we know the man by what he didn’t do. Sometimes what people don’t do speaks loudly…
… they don’t say “I am sorry”…
… they never take the initiative to call…
… they never (rarely) ask questions. When they speak, it tends to resemble… “Ok, enough about me, now what do you think about me?”…
… they never offer to help…
… they don’t let others go first…

You can know a lot about someone by what they don’t do. We know a lot about this man by what he doesn’t do. His heart is wide shut but a closed door often serves as an open window into someone’s soul.

No matter how low we sink, grace flows to that lowest part. Grace flows to this woman. She is the trophy of grace in this story. She enters weeping, she leaves in peace.

She comes in as nobody but leaves a somebody.

Some final questions
I don’t think that the lowest point in this story that grace flows to is the woman, but Simon. Jesus demonstrates a willingness to engage with Simon. The story never reveals if Simon responded to this flow of grace. What do you think?

For me, I think I must guard my heart when it comes to wanting to slap the Simons of the world. After all, people like this today who have the Scriptures, can read about the life of Christ and see God’s amazing grace from Genesis to Revelation should know better. Do you need to guard your heart in this matter?

Finally, who are you a conduit for the grace of God to flow to these days?

In John 14:12, Jesus said “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Touching Base! Part 107

Who’s On the Boat?

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Recently, a friend and I have been reading through a book together, “The Healing Journey for Adult Children of Alcoholics” by Daryl Quick (ISBN #978-0830813285), with a view of perhaps starting a book group at a later date. Although it’s aimed at the aforementioned adult children of alcoholics, I’ve found that it could be an invaluable resource for anyone trying to understand their (perhaps broken) family, its impact on them in childhood and how this can unwittingly set up destructive patterns in all facets of adulthood – from relationships to work life.

One of Mr. Quick’s points, and perhaps the toughest to deal with, is his insistence that what happened in the past CANNOT remain buried and in fact, that is the very problem which leads to the destructive patterns later in life, since the buried hurt will find a way to manifest itself (and not usually in a positive way!), no matter what you do.

I wholeheartedly agree with the man! My analogy (and I was discussing this with a nurse friend of mine on Wednesday- she agreed with me!) is that there are times when the body is unwell, and the only thing it can do is to make you vomit to help you get rid of whatever it is that is making you sick. This is invariably followed by a “gee, I do feel a bit better.”

My point (and Mr. Quick’s) is this, though: the vomiting bit… isn’t FUN. But what it leads to, is wholeness. In order to feel well, we have to get rid of the garbage, by bringing it up to the light and letting God change us from within, so He can cart it away. This is what He does with sanctification. But this can be scary… because it hurts. It can feel like we are right in the middle of a storm we have tried very hard to hide. But it’s precisely that very “trying very hard” that’s destroying us from within. In fact there are times when our sanctification takes longer than it should, because we’re too busy arguing with God over whether or not He should be doing this. How’s that for hubris? “Pardon me, O Almighty Creator of the Universe, while I try to tell You how You should do Your business.” Now that’s insanity!

So here’s the tough question: are you in one of those storms right now? Is it a new storm, or is it perhaps something you’ve been keeping buried your entire life? Well, here’s the good news… Jesus has offered to be in the boat with you, and He already knows all about the storm, being omniscient and all. What He’s saying, though, is “Trust me.” He will never leave you nor forsake you - He may even bring other passengers onto the boat with you so you can share the ride together: friends, other family members, godly counselors, medical professionals…

We don’t have to be alone on the journey. And the result will be that God will make us into a follower of Christ who becomes truly “relationally whole”, one of the Marks of a Disciple that we’d love to see in ourselves and the whole congregation at Bethel (hint: you’ll be learning more about those in the months to come!)

You’re on the boat anyway... the question is: will you let Christ come with you?

Think about it, pray about it. And if you want to find out where you can go next, help is just a phone call (542-2990) or an e-mail ( away.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Touching Base! Part 106

Mistaken Identity?

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

What does it feel like to have every square inch of your body tell you that you have been mislead? That what you thought to be true… isn’t; that who you thought was such a way… is not? Try these emotions on for size - do any of these describe what it feels like when you have been mislead? What might you add?

Betrayed… Angry… Hopeless… Empty… Used… Embarrassed… Stupid… Sad…

The Text - Luke 7:18-28
Read the text and get a feel for the story. Who are the main characters?
This is a very interesting text. It is interesting because of where John is, Machaerus. I described this place on Sunday, but for now all you need to know is that it is the last place John wants to be, prison. It is also interesting because of the question John asks - “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” John was in prison because he had insulted Herod. (Read Mark 6:17-20) However, John probably believed (like the other disciples) that Jesus was going to usher in a political kingdom. Yes, he was the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world as John declared. Yes, He was, as John said, the Son of God, but Jesus was no political leader. He was not ushering in a political kingdom. So there John sits, not understanding how his context is consistent with who he understands Jesus to be. There is incongruity in who he believes Jesus to be and where John is currently residing, thus his question - “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

“All these things” Note this phrase in v18.
His disciples come to him and tell him “all these things”- all that Jesus was doing - perhaps including the story of Jesus raising a widow’s son, perhaps the story of Jesus confronting the demoniacs, healing the leper, doing a “double dip” on the paralytic- healed and forgiven (that guy had a great day), the healing of the centurion’s servant… “All these things.” Was John thinking “Why doesn’t Jesus just save one of these miracles for me and get me out of here? Why should the paralytic get two miracles when I don’t even get one?”

Ever felt like God is working all around you but not in you? How come others can feel him and sense him but you can’t? How come you hear stories of God working but you don’t feel like you are in that story?

Check out John 10:41, an interesting verse describing John.

My big idea on Sunday was: God takes us to places where all we can do is trust Him because we don’t understand Him.
Is where you are these days a place that you understand what He is doing, or a place where you really need to trust him? Which one are you leaning on more these days?

Check out what Jesus says to John’s disciples, v.21-23.
It was understood in those days that the true Messiah would not proclaim himself, but would first do appropriate messianic works that would lead to public acknowledgment of his identity.
He essentially tells John - “you are not crazy!”

v23. “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me”
The Greek word translated “offended” gives us our English word “scandalize”, and it referred originally to the “bait stick” in a trap. Imagine how an animal takes the bait - gets consumed - hooked, gets caught - confined, separated from its herd. The animal cannot carry on because now it is entangled in the trap. Jesus is saying this can happen to people, instead of carrying on with Jesus they get caught by the bait stick. Notice in this text who the offender is - it is Jesus. “John was in danger of being trapped because of his concern about what Jesus was not doing.” The bait was John’s incorrect understanding of Jesus in terms of what kind of kingdom He would usher in. The challenge is for John to let it go and stay faithful to Jesus. I think Jesus is essentially saying “let go and trust me, I know what I am doing.”

Discuss the following quote by Elton Trueblood - “The deepest conviction of the Christian is that Christ was not wrong.” (in John Ortberg, Faith and Doubt)

Use some of your sanctified imagination and discuss what that small group meeting must have been like when the disciples went back to John and reported what Jesus said.

How does John’s story end? Read Matt 14:6-12.
Does this bother you that Jesus didn’t come riding in on a white horse and rescue John?
Can Jesus possibly be right while allowing John to lose his head?
This story doesn’t end with a nice little bow on the box. Instead there is a bloody head on a platter!

Final note - Read v24-28
Room will only allow me to say (this is why you need to hear the message on Sunday) that while John is questioning, Jesus is validating and affirming John’s ministry. Jesus is John’s biggest fan and does not berate him for asking the question. He does not disown him but applauds John for his ministry. It might be good for some of us reading this to know that while we may be at times going through a season of trusting but not understanding and maybe even complaining, that God in Heaven sees us as His sons and daughters. Loved, cherished, valued, affirmed and in the hands of a God who knows what He is doing and what is unfolding all around us.

Here is the prayer I think we pray
“Lord speak into my heart your truth as you did with John. And bring into my life, godly men and women who can help me process your truth. God help me to trust you when I can’t understand you. Help me to follow when the way seems uncertain.”

Here is the commitment of Jesus we must never forget, seen in Jesus words about John (v24-28). Reminds me of Paul’s words in Romans 8:37-38:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here is the place we will all find ourselves at different times in our lives, a place where trust leads us not understanding.

God takes us to places where all we can do is trust Him because we don’t understand Him. Is that your story these days?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Touching Base! Part 105

Do you have great faith?
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

“Faith” - the state of certainty with regard to belief

Have you ever thought about how some have great faith, others little faith, still others no faith at all?
Have you ever wondered how it was acquired by some or why it was rejected by others?
How two kids can grow up in the exact home, one walks with God, and the other walks away from God?
How two people can attend the same small group, one matures, the other plateaus?
How two people can walk through similar difficult situations, one person’s faith is strengthened, and the other’s weakened.

What kind of faith do you have today? “Great” faith, “growing” faith, “doubting” faith, “staggering” faith, “convenient” faith, “parental” faith (the kind of faith that someone hasn’t really thought out for themselves, the kind that rides along on the shirt tails of the parents)…? We sometimes search to find it, fight to keep it, study to deepen it, pray to God to sustain it - Faith!

Note in our text today (Luke 7:1-10) in v.9 Jesus has nothing but high praise for this man’s faith. As a group, talk about what you think Jesus would say about your faith. Also be sure to explain why!

The Text

Read through the text. Identify the key characters and their roles in this story. Do we know anything about how the Centurion came to possess such great faith? What is the issue that causes the Centurion to want to seek out Christ? Do you have any issues that are drawing you closer to God these days?

On Sunday, I talked about why the Centurion sent Jewish elders, and then some friends, to Jesus. In part it was an expression of this man’s tremendous respect for Christ and his deep awareness of who he was as a Gentile. His home was considered unclean by Jews and he was labelled as a pagan. However, as a Centurion he would have ruled over 100 soldiers:
“A centurion had many duties besides maintaining discipline among the ranks. He had to oversee executions for capital offenses (Mt 27:54; Mk 15:39, 44, 45; Lk 23:47). He was responsible for his troops at all times, whether they were Roman citizens or recruited mercenary soldiers. The position of centurion was prestigious and high paying; those who reached that rank usually made a career of it.” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible

For a man of such high rank the words he speaks are quite amazing - “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.” (v.6b) For a man with such a big title he did not have a big head, but he did have a big heart for God. I think it is this man’s contrition that draws Jesus to him. His contrition is like a welcome mat laid out for Jesus to enter into this man’s “home”. As a group, examine his words (v.6b-8) and talk about what kind of heart this reveals. What do his words reveal about the issue of authority?

As a group, talk about the connection of contrition and self awareness in drawing close to God. Read the following and discuss (Quotes taken from Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, page 65).
  • Augustine wrote in his Confessions, in A.D. 400, “How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?” He prayed: “ rant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.”
  • Meister Eckhart, a Dominican writer from the thirteenth century, wrote, “No one can know God who does not first know himself.”
  • St. Teresa of Avila wrote in The Way of Perfection: “Almost all problems in the spiritual life stem from a lack of self-knowledge.”

How self-aware is this Centurion?

I think the combination of contrition and power seen in the Centurion is a rare combination that we often don’t see today. We would expect the leper or paralytic to be humble, but a Roman Centurion? Talk about how success, titles, the seduction of climbing higher in our profession can actually sabotage one’s relationship with God. I think that our success can sometimes make us like a fortress where we do not want people to see our weak side. Weakness or limitations run contrary to our title, to our position and role, thus confessing them or acknowledging them is out of the question.

My big idea this past Sunday was great faith recognizes ultimate authority. This man of authority recognizes authority that goes far beyond him, and thus he yields to it.

How is this statement not very culturally friendly? What I am getting at here is that in our post-modern culture authority begins and ends with man. To recognize a greater Authority beyond oneself that needs to be yielded to is often seen as an insult to the senses.

One of the things we are reminded of by this story is that regardless of titles and accomplishments you will someday come up against some kind of “sick servant” scenario that you cannot solve, you cannot fix, you cannot resolve. You have the questions, but you don’t have the answers. You have the problem but you don’t have the solution. You have the headache but you don’t have the pill.

What tangible examples illustrate you recognizing ultimate authority these days in your life? Note that recognition of that ultimate authority is seen in the centurion’s words - “But say the word…” He realized Jesus words were authoritative. Are you reading and heeding the words of God?

Last word - What might have happened if Jesus said “No. Let death take your servant.”

At times the greatest test of recognizing/yielding to authority is when the answer is “no” when we want it to be “yes”, “stop” when we want it to be “go”, “wait” when we want it to happen yesterday.

I think it is interesting in this story that God is at work in the heart of a military man. Take time as a group this week to pray for the military. There are men and women in our military who need to recognize ultimate authority.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Touching Base! Part 104

Were you born on third base?
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

What base were you born on? “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.” (Barry Switzer) This was a statement tagged on to George Bush Junior. Bush was born intelligent, healthy, handsome, tastefully wealthy, with the best social and school connections and a lust for adventure, to a mother and father who taught him the virtue of public service.

So what base were you born on?
What are the criteria for how you answer that question?
How does travelling overseas and seeing how many others live impact your answer?

A look at our text
Our text this past Sunday was Luke 5:17-26. Read it and become familiar with the flow, emotion, tension and message. The story begins with the cameras focusing in on third base. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law, in comparison to the paralytic, were “third base” guys. The paralytic on the flying carpet is not even on base. Perhaps he is outside the stadium begging for some loose change. Jesus is the umpire calling balls and strikes. What I love about this story is that Jesus (once again) takes someone who has no doubt been marginalized, and brings them into the center of the story.
Who are these third base guys?

The Pharisees had, earlier in their history, helped the Jews maintain the purity of their religion by teaching how the Mosaic Law and the traditions that grew up along side it ought to be applied in daily life. But many of them became rigid, imbalanced, and hypocritical (cf. comments on 11:37-54).

The "teachers of the law" were not a religious party, like the Pharisees, though most of them were also Pharisees. They were respected as having expert knowledge of the details of the Jewish legal tradition and so would be expected to form an opinion about the correctness of Jesus' teaching.

Comment about the friends of this paralytic man. What do you admire about them? Who was instrumental in bringing you to Christ? What were the biggest barriers that your friends had to help you work through in order to come to Christ?

On Sunday I talked about forgiveness and what this text teaches us about this issue.

1. God forgives, and forgiveness deals with the root issue of our broken world.
Note how the beginning of this story only allows us to see the physical, yet Jesus sees a much deeper issue. What are the words in the first four verses that demonstrate that Jesus sees a much deeper problem? What role did the faith of the friends play in this story? What must have Jesus seen in the faith of the paralytic to forgive him?
Read the story that follows (Luke 5:27-32) and comment on how forgiveness defines the central ministry of Jesus.
One observation worth noting in our story is that the Pharisees were present. This is the group that Jesus had to scold for making religion all about outward appearances. He explained (Matt 5-7) that true righteousness is a matter of the heart and not external religious practices alone. What they witnessed in this story went to the heart of the matter! Forgiveness always does.

Forgiveness means to cancel a debt, to send something away, to let go or release, as in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

2. Only God can truly deal with the sin issue
While we may be critical of the third base guys, they do make a good point. Check out what they are thinking in v.21. They accused Jesus of blasphemy (sacrilege, irreverence) for misleading the people and claiming to forgive sin. Discuss how Jesus handles their thoughts. Discuss what he does and what he says. What was his point?

To appreciate the statement “Son of Man” you need to understand the context of this title. We often think that it just refers to Jesus’ humanity. However, it is a multifaceted title that also references His deity. The Pharisees and teachers of the law would have known the context of this title and the well-known Jewish text that it was associated with it, Daniel 7, predicting the coming of the Messiah. It is a title that makes bold claims about his messianic mission. As one writer says, it declares that the messiah would be divine. This is why, in Mark 14:62, the high priest is irate at Jesus calling himself the Son of Man. Its messianic connection and reference to deity made the religious leaders accuse Jesus of blasphemy. You don’t get accused of blasphemy for declaring to be a mere human being.

My big idea on Sunday was: Jesus can forgive, don’t forget it!
Do you think these guys on third base ever forgot it? Did they become followers (mere speculation but interesting to discuss because for some, no amount of evidence will cause them to come to faith)?

What about the paralytic? Did he ever forget this day? Do you think he ever questioned God’s goodness in forgiving him? What’s the greatest miracle as we watch this man walk off toward his town?

On Sunday I concluded with several questions, asking if we ever forget that God can forgive sin. Think through these questions and discuss and then take some time to respond in prayer.

Have you forgotten?
Do you live with the shame of your sin even though you have asked for God’s forgiveness? If so, maybe you have forgotten.
Do you at times find yourself attempting to earn God’s forgiveness, which he has already told you is a free gift? If so, maybe you have forgotten.
Do you try to bury your sense of guilt or shame with busyness or drugs, alcohol? If so, maybe you have forgotten.
Are you attempting to deny or justify various actions, all in an attempt to deal with your own sin? If so, maybe you have forgotten.
Do you refuse to forgive those who have sinned against you? If so, maybe you have forgotten.
Are you allowing your own sin to shape you, limit you, taunt you, play over and over again in your mind, making you feel like a second class citizen? If so, maybe you have forgotten.
Do you feel that God would in no way forgive you? If so, maybe you have forgotten.
Perhaps you have not forgotten but have never been told. The majority in this story had never been told, until this day, that Jesus forgives.

Forgiven! Forgotten?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Touching Base! Part 103

Planting Your Flag
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

“Planting your flag” is an expression I heard years ago referring to the idea of commitment. When we plant our flag, we identify what it is we are committing to, we make the commitment and then, through good times and bad, for richer or poorer, we commit, stick to it and work it out. That kind of commitment is often lacking in many areas of society these days. Marriages are often the first example given, but it can also be seen in the local church. This TB is designed to help you think about the various groups of people who plant their flag at Bethel.

The Old timers (not only in age but in time at Bethel)
These are the people that can reference events in the church that happened 20, 30 and even 50 years ago. They have a deep-rooted history with the church. They have a panoramic view as they can see how the church has dipped and soared, thrived and dived. They can tell you about people who died long ago, and the role they played in the church. They can tell you when so-and-so was just 5 years old and now they are a grown adult, married with children. Many in this group can provide a long list of the ways they have served in the local church. In many ways, these are the people who help connect a church with its past as it moves into the future. Personally, I have found these kinds of people at Bethel extremely encouraging, providing lots of good insights and willing to transition into the future. I always find it interesting to hear their stories of how God worked so many years ago. This group needs to be listened to and included in ministry. Their service years are not over even if they may be in their senior years.

The “We are not new but not pioneer” group
You may find yourself in this group. You have some history but not pages and pages like the above group. However, like the above group, it is hard to remember what it feels like to be a newcomer. This is the group that in many cases has taken on the bulk of the ministries. They have developed a real ownership of the church and an interest in its development. This group can appreciate the changes that have occurred, and understand some of the tensions that come with moving ahead. Many of these people are great at helping the church transition while respecting some of the long-held traditions in a church.

The new arrivals
These are the folks who, possibly within the last 12-24 months, have started attending. There can be a whole host of feelings accompanied with new arrivals:
  • A sense of loss as they really miss their home church back in the town they left
  • “Woundedness” that might have resulted from a bad exit from a previous church
  • Feeling like an outsider as they try to find their place in this new church
  • Uncertainty about how things work, where things are, why things happen the way they do
  • Anticipation at the prospects of their new church home

One of the most exciting things we observe is when new people jump on board. They have a passion for the city, a love for the church and a desire to participate in God’s kingdom. Many of these people don’t “ride the pines” but get right in the game, either in the church scattered or gathered. Don’t forget your workplace is one of your primary areas of ministry. We count it a privilege to encourage you and learn with you in that area of ministry.

Church hoppers
These are people that can drive any church crazy - no commitment, no loyalty, and no involvement. Like a tourist, they show up for a while, observe and then move on to the better “show” in town. No doubt, they have a distorted understanding of the church and a very “consumeristic” outlook. These are not the people that help you win the game. We need to help these folks find their way through this season. There can be a number of factors that prevent people from settling down in a local church. We need to encourage them to put down roots in a local church, whether it is at Bethel or elsewhere.

In this day and age where loyalty to anything is becoming increasing rare, I am grateful for the first three above-mentioned groups. It is exciting to see how God is weaving together the new with those who have been around for a while at Bethel. We are all at different stages and phases of being, and we all have unique ways we contribute (gathered and scattered). It is my prayer that God will continue to bring us together in unity as we come under His headship.

Exit Folks
Let me close with mentioning one last group. This isn’t a group that actually attend Bethel, since by very definition that would be impossible. These are the “Exit folks”. These are people that, for whatever reason, have left Bethel. This has always happened and will always happen. Sometimes there are very legitimate reasons why people leave – they move, they graduate, or they struggle with various issues. We need to be extremely sensitive to this group, praying for them and responding to God’s promptings should He lead us to follow them up.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, October 15, 2010

Touching Base! Part 102

Elders’ Update
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

I wanted to provide a brief update regarding what the elders’ team is up to at Bethel these days. At Bethel, we believe that leadership matters. It is not our desire to manage or just maintain, but to continue to lay tracks and develop vision so that Bethel can continue to grow, mature and develop key ministries in keeping with that developing vision. Neither is it our goal to be the busiest Church in town or to offer every possible program. Our desire is to see the body empowered and released to be the Church 24/7. I would encourage you to take some time and give us your input on some of the issues raised in this Touching Base.

Transitioning our meetings

If you have ever sat on the board of any kind of organization, then you know that details can bog down teams and get them stuck in the muck-and-mire of administrative detail. As a church leadership team under Doug Boyd’s leadership and now Steve Dickey’s, we have been successfully shifting our agendas to what we believe are more elder-like matters that must be addressed. Bethel currently has some very strong teams operating and that allows the elders’ team to focus in on key issues essential to Bethel’s current health and future development.

Thematic meetings

We have laid out several months’ worth of meetings to look at key issues. The following is a list of those themes:
  • Sept 28th - The elders’ team met at my place and, along with an invited guest, discussed issues related to personal growth in the Christian life (the Big Fat Theological Term is “sanctification”). We spent two hours discussing the kinds of issues people have difficulty gaining victory over. We looked at a number of causes - unforgiveness, unrepentance, generational patterns, and the demonic, that can sabotage the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. We will be bringing this discussion to the Bethel services on December 5th.
  • Oct 12th – The theme of our meeting was to discuss our emerging list of values at Bethel. Values are not doctrinal statements, but statements that help us understand how we do ministry and the kind of culture we are attempting to develop. We all agreed that values that are biblically-rooted can help steer the church in building positive Christ-honouring relationships, both inside and outside the gathered church. These values are Team, Excellence, Authenticity, Relevance and Solidarity. If you attended the “Together Again” event then you are already familiar with these values.
  • Nov. (date TBD) - Our theme for this meeting is “the Marks of a Disciple”. We believe that the description of the kind of disciple we are attempting to develop is essential. We want , and need, to know if our ministries are helping shape Christ-like people. Our five marks are:
  • Heart for God ( Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
  • Biblically-Measured (everything by the Book)
  • Prayerfully Engaged
  • Relationally Whole (family-centered, friendships, teams etc)
  • Committed to the whole Gospel (physical and spiritual)
  • Bill Duffy will also be joining us that night to talk about the pastoral care ministry at Bethel. Bill is on staff and helps us with visitation and connecting new people into Bethel. We are very encouraged with how many are participating in small groups this fall. We have approximately 130 adults in small groups, and this number does not include the many students who attend Bethel and participate in groups on campus.
  • Dec. 14th - The elders’ team will be discussing how we can more effectively nurture mentoring at Bethel. We have often seen the incredible value of one-on-one relationships in the body of Christ. What makes this a challenge is that we cannot “program” mentoring. It must happen through relationships, and from the grass-roots on up. We will also be discussing our next BHAG (Big Harry Audacious Goal) for the church. We believe that God is preparing us to corporately take on an initiative in the downtown core that will help us not just declare the Gospel, but also demonstrate the Gospel in good works. This is a major initiative that is currently in process and will gain more traction at this December elders’ meeting.
  • January (½ day retreat) - The elders have started taking a half day each January to work through vision issues. Our retreat agenda is not set but as you can see from the meeting agendas, we will have lots to choose from for our discussion.
  • Finally, as an elders’ team we are going to be reading together Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (the staff is reading this as well). This is a great book that looks at how Christians grow and change and what some of the road-blocks to change are.


While this is tentative, we are planning on introducing our vision in February 2011. We are grateful to the many of you who have participated in the various forums at Bethel to help clarify our emerging vision.

How can you help?

Please pray for each of our elders and their spouses. They are all busy people - Steve and Donna Dickey, Ewen and Sharon Mackenzie, Scott and Simone Wylie, Roy and Meredith Chan, Eric and Mary Prost, Ron and Tooty Dickey, Doug and Maureen Brown and Mark and Rhonda Kotchapaw.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, October 8, 2010

Touching Base! Part 101

How Exclusive Is Your Bubble

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

All of us have had the experience of re-entering, or returning, after being gone for a while. Think of the possible scenarios…

… returning to the home you grew up in
… military personnel who return from a tour of duty
… the man or woman who re-enters society after working through drug or alcohol addiction
… inmates that are set free and find themselves feeling like strangers around the dinner table
… someone whose marriage ends and they re enter the single life

Take a moment and talk about times that you have “re- entered”. What did that feel like? Was it exciting or highly intimidating?

In our text this Sunday, there is a man who has been “away”, perhaps for a long time. And what Jesus does for him will allow him to come home again.

Read Luke 5:12-17.

To really understand this story, you have to understand how ostracized this leprous man was. He was viewed as ceremonially unclean - in fact, the Law commanded that such a man cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” as he walked along. Clothes that were leprous (general term for a broad range of eruptive skin diseases and disorders) were destroyed. Houses that were found to be contaminated in this way were either given a major renovation or levelled to the ground. The reason garments were burned and houses were levelled… this man has all over his body. Note v.12, “covered with leprosy”. Read Lev. 13:45–46.

What Jesus does (He actually touches him), is off-the-charts radical. Not only because the man was leprous, but because of how some of the religious establishment and much of culture viewed such a person. Priests were noted for throwing stones at lepers, religious teachers often accused them of being more sinful than others. The bottom line is that if you were a leper you would not win a popularity contest. Don’t even think about a beauty contest!

As a group, discuss how you think this man must have felt living with such a cloud over him all the time.

Notice what the leper says in v.12 - note that the critical issue is not the leper’s faith (i.e. he doesn’t say “Lord, if I am willing … ”), nor is it the Lord’s power (i.e. he also doesn’t say “Lord, if You are able … ”), but the Lord’s sovereign will (i.e. he actually says “Lord, if you are willing…”).

Talk about how else this leper may have experienced healing beyond just the physical aspect, because of Jesus’ touch. The following will help you out:
“Touching eases pain, lessens anxiety, softens the blows of life, generates hope and has the power to heal, according to most experts. In fact, modern psychology and medicine are confirming what mothers across the centuries have intuitively known--namely, the healing power of touch.”
Discuss the following statement: “If the church is going to be the Church of Jesus Christ, it must learn the power of touch.”

Some further questions to reflect on as you think of this story.

Why would He touch him?
I think C.S. Lewis states it well - “ You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
Society saw a leper, Jesus saw a soul; society saw someone who was disposable, Jesus saw someone worth redeeming.
How can at times people’s “leprosy” prevent us from seeing their true value in God’s eyes?

What did this act of touching and healing demonstrate about Christ? V.14
What Jesus asks this man to do is totally in keeping with Jewish teaching (check out Lev. 14:1–32) The fact that a man would go to the priest claiming healing from leprosy would alert the religious leaders that something new was afoot in Israel.

Who are the lepers today?
Think of this question on both a personal and a church-wide level. Some suggestions –
  • AIDS in our time, is the Leprosy of Jesus’ day - yet Jesus touched the Leper
  • Addicts,
  • The mentally ill,
  • Gays/lesbians/bisexual/transgendered
  • Someone who has hurt us, we avoid – we put them outside our “bubble” – remember the image from Sunday
  • What would you add?
How does this story illustrate the Gospel?

What do you think this leper saw in Jesus that made him think that Jesus wouldn’t throw stones but extend a hand of help?

Who is on the outside of your bubble? Who is it that you would rather walk away from than towards?

This story demonstrates once again the authority of Jesus, which is one of Luke’s main points. However, it deeply challenges our stereotypes of people and shows us all how we can form unhealthy opinions of others and create a “we-them” kind of world. Might Bethel bridge that gap, see lives transformed, bodies healed and the church engaged!


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Touching Base! Part 100

What Did Avatar Not Show Us?
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once made the rather colossal claim that he had unassailably solved all philosophical problems. A measure of modesty entered into the equation, however, when he declared that the most significant portions of reality were beyond the grasp of language.

If you saw the movie “Avatar”, you may have noticed (I didn’t until I read a critique of the movie) that what the cameras did not show was “Eywa”. Eywa is the guiding force and deity of Pandora and the Na'vi (the inhabitants of planet Pandora). The Na'vi believe that Eywa acts to keep the ecosystem of Pandora in perfect equilibrium. The writer of the critique talked about how, with all the 3D magic of the movie, the cameras could not (or possibly chose not) to attempt to capture the imagery of Eywa. The writer said “Avatar is most remarkable for what it chooses to conceal from the camera.” Perhaps this is where Ludwig Wittgentstein and James Cameron (writer and producer of Avatar) agree - “the most significant portions of reality were beyond the grasp of language.”

This past Sunday we started into our Fall series entitled “Jesus One-on-One”. We looked at three stories that serve as three windows into glory beyond description. What the cameras of Cameron do not capture, Dr. Luke does capture with his detailed narratives of the life of Christ - glory beyond description.

If you are using this article in your small group discuss the following statement:
Maximus the Confessor (Abbot in about 6th cent) famously remarked that man is perched precariously between the grave and eternity. We nurture both a temporal and an eternal nature simultaneously.

Do you find that most people are somewhat aware of the eternal nature of life? Another way of asking this is, Do you encounter people who believe in the supernatural but have not been able to identify it?

Let’s look at the three stories that serve as three windows:

Story #1 Luke 4:31-37
Make as many observations about this story as possible. Notice the two names of Christ in this story. What name reveals that this Jesus is glory beyond description? How does the story illustrate the name?

I love the definition of the Greek word used for “authority” in this story: the liberty of doing as one pleases. The Holy One of God certainly demonstrates that Jesus has more authority than anyone else in this story, including the demon.

How does the presence of the demonic challenge or expand your theology?

Story #2 Luke 4: 38-44
Compare stories. What are the parallels and contrasts? Note the name “Son of God”. In the first story, the “Holy One of God” was demonstrated through His authority. In the second story we see authority but in addition, we see that Jesus has the bragging rights.

I’ll let Ravi Zacharias explain:
“In the 10th chapter of Mark’s Gospel, we find the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus. Look at his name carefully- “Bar-timaeus”. Ironically, we really do not have his name. He is simply “son of Timaeus,” which is what his name means. His only identity in the story is through his father. In that time and culture it was not uncommon for a son to be named in relation to the father, as in Simon Bar Jonah. This method established bragging rights within a culture.” (Has Christianity Failed You?, p. 29)

This is a title of nature and not of office. The sonship of Christ denotes His equality with the Father. To call Christ the Son of God is to assert His true and proper divinity. This name is used 37 times in the NT.

A couple of questions to ponder:
  • Why do you think Jesus in both stories told the demonic to be quiet?
  • How is it that the demons can have better theology than the religious leaders Jesus confronted in Luke 4:14-30?
Story #3 Luke 8:26-39
Certainly there is a lot that could be discussed in this story. However, for time and application I want you to think about how politically incorrect this third name of Jesus is.

In story number one, He is called the “Holy One of God”, illustrated by His authority. In story number two, He is called the “Son of God”, demonstrating His “bragging rights”. In story number three He is called… you tell me.

“Son of the Most High God”. The superlative used is interesting.
In this third story Jesus is knee-deep in demons. Note the word in v.30, “Legion” - a body of soldiers whose number differed at different times, and in the time of Augustus seems to have consisted of 6826 men (i.e. 6100 foot soldiers, and 726 horsemen). In the Luke narrative thus far this is the most demons we have seen, yet Jesus is the Most High God.

This was a very politically incorrect name to attach to Jesus. This story unfolds in Gentile territory. We partly know this because of the pigs. Gentiles were polytheistic, Jews were monotheistic. By declaring this third name, it is made clear that in a gentile culture that had many gods, that even deified the Roman emperor, Jesus was head-and-shoulders above them all. Most High! In fact note what Paul says about other gods:
1 Corinthians 8:4-6 “...‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

Jesus’ presence on earth was not just an affront to the legions of the kingdom of darkness but an affront to the legions of Rome! It was as politically incorrect to follow Jesus then as it is now.

How is following Jesus today politically incorrect? How offensive could this third name be to a Muslim, Hindu or atheist? How is it possible to humbly declare that we worship Jesus the Son of the Most High God?

Finally, go back through these three stories and note where Jesus is. What I find amazing is that Jesus - the Holy One of God, Son of God, Son of the Most High God - is up to His elbows in human need, and brokenness.

“Avatar is most remarkable for what it chooses to conceal from the camera.” That’s what one critique said. I say the Word of God is most remarkable for what it chooses to reveal: the Holy One of God, Son of God, Son of the Most High God, here among broken and helpless people.

Jesus truly does represent a glimpse of the world beyond, yet is amongst us!


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Touching Base! Part 99

Ever Experienced Transition?
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Like it or not, here comes change. No season stands still, no circumstance lasts forever. Death itself will bring the ultimate change, but while on earth, our lives are often blessed, rocked and turned upside down because of transition.

Transition involves experiencing change, often loss:
  • The loss of a role
  • The loss of a person
  • The loss of a place
  • The loss of your sense of where you fit in the world

Some transitions can be exciting and hope-filled, other kinds of transition can be dark and despairing. Some transitions can represent places where we find ourselves surrounded by friends and family, and other transitions can be very lonely experiences. Some transitions we choose, we plan for, and we welcome, other kinds of transitions are forced upon us, and come our way without an invitation.

What is your transition?

This past Sunday we talked about how transitions represent seasons in our lives when our worlds change and our hearts can be open to a deeper work of God.
The question was: what are you learning in your transition?

Image #1 - Changing planets

Some transitions we walk through can feel like we have changed planets. It is not necessarily “bad” or “not welcome”. Think of the student who goes from a high school in her hometown, to moving away and arriving on a campus of several thousand students. That’s a “small planet, big planet” transition. What about the person who experiences a job promotion or who just got married or the young couple who just had a baby. That can seem like a completely new planet!

As you think of your life, what have been some of the transitions that felt like you were living on a completely new planet? Focus on the positive transitions.

Read the following texts on change and how God controls our times – Eccl. 3: 1-8, Daniel 2:21, Psalm 31:14,15. How has God taken you deeper with Himself when you changed planets?

On Sunday we talked about one of the dangers of some transitions being the removal of accountability structures or friendships that may have kept us on track and keen for God. This especially applies to students moving away to attend school. What are other dangers we need to be aware of?

Image #2 - Drop in Altitude

While changing planets may be a positive, a drop in altitude refers to transitions that are unwelcome and wear us down.

What are some of the tough transitions in life that can feel like a drop in altitude?
On Sunday I read Psalm 102:1-11. Read this text and talk about what images, feelings and expressions you can relate with when in this kind of transition. How has God taken you deeper with Himself in these tough kinds of transitions?

The danger when we drop in altitude is that we can become marked and even defined by some of the negative emotion that surrounds us. I talked about how if we are not careful we can become “water-logged” with the negative stuff that is thrown in our face.

What are you doing to guard your spirit as you have experienced a drop in altitude?
Who have you surrounded yourself with that can speak words of life and hope into your soul?

Image #3 - The Slinky Factor

One of the truths that transitions teach us is that we are complex people. The slinky illustrates our complexity. Ever watched a slinky go down the stairs? The front part “arrives” on the step below first, and it’s then followed by the rest of the body of the slinky. It is not instantaneous, and it takes time for the whole slinky to arrive on the next step. We are much like that. In some transitions, we can find that while we are physically present in our new surrounding, we are very much still not fully “present” (emotionally, mentally etc.) It can take a while for all of us (singular) to arrive.

Read Psalm 137:1-6. What are the Israelites longing for? What part of them is really not fully present in Babylon?

What transitions illustrate the Slinky Factor?
Some examples…
  • A person has just moved to Kingston yet they are still very much still back home in their heart and mind.
  • The loss of a spouse makes us realize how long it takes for our “insides” to catch up with our external reality of one less person living in the home.

The danger of this kind of transition is when we don’t give ourselves the space or permission to catch up, i.e. when we don’t do the hard work of processing.

How can we give ourselves space on this issue? What can a person do to help the process along?

As a group, ask yourselves the question: is there anybody at Bethel, at work, in your neighbourhood that could use some help as they work through transition?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Monday, September 20, 2010

Touching Base! Part 98

Sunday on Sundays
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

We certainly live in a day when many are taking shots at the church. “It’s full of hypocrites!”… “They don’t care for the poor!”… “It is irrelevant.” Some is substantiated and some of it is just unfounded, exaggerated and caters to people bent on being a critical. I think some even use the “critic” card to justify their own tepid spirituality. As I read the other day, it is easier to be critical and unsupportive than positive and affirming.

Whatever the case, some of the criticism is justified and needs to be listened to and learned from. There may be a grain of truth or a whole saltshaker’s worth of truth in the verbal firing range.

Read the following testimony and if you are in a group talk about where you stand regarding the Church (think more broadly than just Bethel):
“In 2002 I was at the height of my personal “church is irrelevant” rebellion phase. My wife and I had just gone to Little Rock, Arkansas, for her high school reunion, and visited a church there that used to be her church, years ago, as a kid. Now, in the new millennium, this place had put the “glitz” in “glitzy”. You could get everything there. Gourmet coffee. CDs. An array of books. There was a climbing wall for the teens. Beepers for the parents of young children. Lots of Cadillacs and Benzes in the parking lot, and a sermon on reaching your potential after a fabulous performance by an all-white praise band in matching polos. Their smiles were blinding. It was all so fabulous that I almost got sick to my stomach. And nobody said hello.” (Why We’re Not Emergent, DeYoung and Kluck, page 59)

On Sunday we talked about how we want the Church (specifically the Sunday a.m. gatherings) to be a place where people encounter God. This was a follow-up to the September 12th message (you can get that Touching Base online). We talked about how it is so easy to carry on with business as usual, but leave Jesus behind.

Read Luke 2:41-58.
How can this happen in the Church?
What is the fallout?

We talked about people on the platform and people in the pew. We all have a responsibility to nurture an environment where God is at work. Paul says we are a holy temple, a dwelling place for the Spirit of God (last week’s message - Eph 2:21,22).

Discuss the following questions that we considered on Sunday morning. After your discussion take time to pray for Bethel. Also pray for churches in the community that may need a fresh work of God. After all it is His Body, His Church and it is His manifest presence we so desperately need.
  • How do you (people in the pew) go about preparing for Sunday morning? Do you think you do enough, what more could you do so as to come with a heart ready for corporate worship?
  • Sometimes the person on the platform needs to guard from performing. However, people in the pew can be tempted to perform as well. How can that be possible?
  • What should I do on a Sunday when the song being song does not exactly express where I am at? For example the song may say “I surrender all”, but I realize that how I am living is more better expressed, “I surrender some.” Is it hypocritical to sing it?
  • Can you effectively assess if a service was “successful” or not? Why?
  • What must Bethel guard against? What might be some of our slippery slopes, tendencies to get off the rails?

When exiting a service sometimes all people comment on is the length of the sermon, the volume of the music or the noise of the baby three pews down from where they were sitting. Think about some comments and questions people should be asking that might reflect a healthier heart (don’t get me wrong… sometimes preachers preach too long, songs are too loud and babies need to be in the nursery).

Here is a sample:
  • How did I contribute today to Bethel being a healthy Church?
  • What did God speak to me about in the service?
  • How can I follow up on what I was challenged with?
  • Who can I share this with?
  • Who needs to be encouraged?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, September 10, 2010

Touching Base! Part 97

What are You Looking for in a Church?
12 Sep 10

(This article can also we found on our website at
under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

What do you value in a church? Many value authenticity. Being authentic in our relationships speaks to our need as individuals to connect with people. Studies show that significant human contact is good for one’s overall health, wholeness and happiness. For many, the lack of authenticity is a major turn off in any context but especially in the Church. Being inauthentic is where people go through the motions, smiles are as fake as the designer shoes, greeting card theology passes for spiritual meat, doubt and suffering are embarrassments. When this kind of culture is allowed to define a church, church can become a real downer.

Authenticity does not only apply to the horizontal plane but also to the vertical plane of life. Authenticity is also linked with His presence! It’s where people really connect with God. It’s where God really shows up, where we do not just talk about Him, but experience Him! Authenticity! It's where people truly grow in intimacy with God. I have listed some characteristics of a church where God authentically shows up, does His work and changes lives.

It is ...
  • A place that sees people, not just attending and pretending, but being the church 24/7
  • A place where lives are deeply challenged by the Word of God and where life change is the expectation
  • A place where human leadership is not deified, but where God's leadership is exalted.
  • A place where outrageous acts of service happen to bless those who have less
  • A place where people are committed to the hard work of relational Wholeness
  • A place where prayer is not just talked about but upheld and Prioritized
  • A place that is known by the community because when God is at work - you can't hide it or contain it.
  • A place where the most unlovable person, the most wretched person is loved, discipled and embraced.
  • A place where Christ's death and resurrection are proclaimed and people, through repentance and faith, are made new in Christ - their lives are changed both now and forever.
  • What might you add?
In Ephesians 4:3 Paul is telling the Ephesians to guard the unity of the Spirit. V.1 makes it clear that living in such a way is partly what it means to live a life that is worthy. However, if you read this text in context and read Eph. 2:21, 22 we see two other motivations to guard the unity. Unity in diversity (Jews living with Gentiles) is a reflection of the very character and nature of God (v.2:18, note God in Trinity working together in the act of salvation) and it is a place in which He desires to dwell. Let's think about the second motivation. Paul makes it very clear that God dwells in the context of unity, where diverse people come together because of their common bond in Christ. Check out Psalm 133.

So the question is, what can I do about nurturing unity in the body of Christ? Whether at Bethel Sunday mornings or in a small group or another ministry context, unity is crucial if we seek to experience the manifest presence of God. Authenticity is linked with His presence.

Let me give you two answers to that question.

1. We need to guard the unity (v.3)

The verb guard suggests difficulty and a resolute determination, ongoing determination to overcome. Literally it reads "being eager to maintain”. In other words, it’s not easy! Notice what else Paul says about our behaviour in v2. And v.1 makes it clear that Paul is describing partly what it means to live a life that is worthy.

Some questions to consider:

What context do you find yourself in that you need to guard the unity?
What makes it so difficult right now?
Who makes it most difficult, right now?
Are you just going to live with those unhealthy undercurrents?
Are you just hoping it will go away?

What is true corporately, is true individually. How many Christ followers are spiritually dwarfed because they have so many relational troubles with other Christ followers?

2. In guarding, I need to ask three questions:

Am I allowing the enemy a foothold? (Eph 4:27)

Notice “foothold” is connected with residual anger, but this is only an example of how we can give the enemy a foothold.

Foothold - meaning “any portion or space marked off”, a space, a place that is accommodating, welcoming.

Am I grieving God the Holy Spirit? (Eph 4:30)

Read v.29-32 and notice how opposite this behaviour is to what Paul describes in 4:2,3.
Grieve - to be sad, sorrowful, distressed

Do you ever think of God as weeping?
Do you ever think of God as having a heart broken?
Look at Christ and you will see a God that weeps!
Read the OT and you will read of a God that weeps!
God is sad because He has made the church for so much more, to rise so much higher, to be so much greater but the Bride has settle for so little.

Do you remember a time in your life when you grieved God? Talk about what that did to your walk with God and with others.

Am I walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit? (Eph 5:15-18)

Remember Eph 1:14: the Holy Spirit is deposited into our lives when we move from hearing to believing. Each Christian has all the Spirit, but the command here is that the Spirit have all of him/her on an ongoing basis. We are to be aware of those other things that can intoxicate, those other cheap substitutes, and instead be filled with the Spirit. Don't reduce His influence or block Him out. You have all of Him, be sure He has all of you.

As a group pray that your group, Bethel Church and the Church throughout Kingston would be a place where God's Spirit dwells. Pray that people would take responsibility to guard the unity so that God's Spirit would be released and honoured, not grieved and shunned.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, August 27, 2010

Touching Base! Part 95

Ramping Up
26 August 2010
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

[This week’s post is written by Carmen, the Church Administrator…
because Mark was going on holidays…. not that’s she’s envious or anything.]

As August winds down, most of us are getting ready to go, to coin a catch-phrase I like to use, “back to work, back to work!” Of course this can mean jobs or school.

At our staff meeting on Wednesday, Fred being away at Constance Lake, Mark, Jamie and I decided to take a look at the upcoming calendar, fleshing it out and nailing some dates down for the fall months. Here’s what we came up with, for your edification (and planning!) Please note that Youth events are not yet in here but we will advise you of them as soon as they are all scheduled.


10 Queens Sidewalk Fair – staff and volunteers will be manning a booth to inform Queens students about Bethel.

12 Back to two services!

12 (and 19) (Two Sundays) Ministry Fair @ Bethel – between services, come find out more about ministry opportunities at Bethel and in Kingston!

17 Primetime 50+ and Friends @ Mark and Rhonda’s for potluck lunch

19 - Worship Team Auditions – in the afternoon. Details to follow.
- Meet ‘n Eat Potluck! @ 5 pm, for newcomers and “old comers” alike – come fellowship and learn more about your church home.

26 Together Again! 6 to 8 pm – bringing together all our ministry workers for prayer, leadership development and dessert!

3 Family Experience – A new monthly program for all families of children up to grade 6, in the newly-renovated upstairs Gym!

10 Communion Sunday, now taking place on the SECOND Sunday of each month.

20 Membership class – 7-9 pm. Interested in being a member or learning more about what Bethel believes? Then this one-time session is for you!

31 “BabyD” Sunday (Tentative) – We will set up a couple of Sundays per year for families to dedicate themselves and their newborns during the service. If you are interested, please contact the office.

As you can see, and if you’ve been here any length of time, it will come as no surprise to you, things are really moving along here at Bethel.

But even as we all start to plan our calendars, let’s continue to be prayerful that we become, not just a busy church (since many dying churches are “busy”), but a spirit-filled church, humbly walking in hand-in-hand with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

No Blogs!

11, 18 and 25 July – No blog entries!
But check back again next week!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Touching Base! Part 94

04 July 2010

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

Having just come through spring and now moving into the summer months, you cannot help but see growth. One of the most exciting signs of growth in the spring is when the green hue begins to appear on the skeleton-like trees. It only takes a few weeks before the trees are clothed in incredible rich green “jackets”. And then there is our garden out back: in the early spring, our two raised beds are just two black squares of dirt. Now, our raised beds are like two mini jungles, life is bursting from the earth! No Tarzan and Jane as of yet!

In this TB I wanted to talk about two areas where God is growing me. This is not to focus on me so much as it is to help you reflect on where you are growing these days. Like “mini jungles” in our back yard or trees that wear their summer “jackets” we need to be aware of where we are growing. Pondering our growth might help us figure out where we have hit a wall.

My personal growth has come in the areas of prayer and reading God’s Word.

Like many of you, I have, at times, found prayer to be the last thing I want to do, but the first thing I know I should do. My prayer journey has had seasons of great enthusiasm, and then at other times prayer has been the result of sheer discipline. I think my prayer journey began to turn a corner when I began to discover that prayer could take on many forms and that those forms could actually be happening in the spaces and places that I find myself in during the day. Yes, I still believe that set times of prayer during the day are important. However, I have been discovering that some of my most significant times of prayer happen as I am living out my day. As I begin each day, I often ask God to help me see the world as He would see it and to lead me to pray about what I see and experience as I move through the day. Thus, I have found that while driving, I will at times turn the radio off to take time to pray. As I am running (not from the police) I will allow the surroundings to prompt me to pray. My prayers at times have become short sentences, one-word expressions of praise or intercession, impromptu prayers, moving in all kinds of directions depending on what I am seeing, who I am engaging in, and how I am feeling. I have found myself praying back to God a song I hear on the radio. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christian song. For example, try listening to a country station - those songs will give you lots to pray about! I have found myself able to be bolder about praying with someone at the end of a conversation. It might be what is expected on a Sunday if someone comes to the front, but why not build prayer into more of our conversations during the week? Recently I have found myself awake at night and attempting to fall back asleep. I have started taking that unexpected awake time and prayed. I think God is teaching me what it means to pray constantly.

Reading God’s Word
Probably one of my biggest challenges as a pastor is to read God’s Word without an agenda. In my line of work, I am always looking for a good illustration, word picture or teaching point. When it comes to reading God’s word, I need to discipline myself to not read for “material” but read for myself. The contrast I think of is illustrated in the difference between taking a shower vs. going for a relaxing swim. Showers are “intentional”; there is a clear task at hand - in and out and on to the next event. Going for a swim, at least in my experience of swimming, involves floating in a lake (better than a chlorinated pool, I prefer fish to chemicals) on a summer day, and just feeling the wonder of water all around you.

There are times we need to get into the Word and dig, turn over every word, cross-reference, look at the original context, examine and cross-examine. However, there are times we need to allow the Word to wash over us without a need to cross-examine it. We need to soak in the Word without having to check off another one of our “to dos” for the day. Without rushing or pushing, without running or gunning, we just need to read and let God speak deeply into our hearts. Both forms of study are needed, but my challenge is to go for the “swim” more often. One thing that I have started lately is doing the bulk of my “swimming” kind of reading at night, just before I go to bed. What better material to expose your heart, mind and soul to just before you hit the lights?

Where is the patch of green showing up in your life these days?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Touching Base! Part 93

Staying Up To Date!
27 June 2010

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

This TB includes some brief updates on what is happening around here at Bethel. As we move into the summer months, ministry certainly does not end, however the staff does use this time for some R&R and some long-term planning. We have already had a retreat where we engaged in some long-term planning (12 months out). With the elders working on vision, this has helped us as we work in our individual areas of ministry.

Summer teaching series at the 10 a.m. service:
For the month of July, I (Mark) will not be speaking. I will be taking some holidays as well as taking a few weeks of concentrated long term planning. On July 4 I will be doing a pulpit swap with Café Church. Bethel helped plant Café Church and we continue to have a strong relationship with them. In return, Steve Fritz-Millet will be speaking here at Bethel that day. On July 11 Warren Reeve will be speaking on Acts 13 and the International Church. The International Church is one of the most exciting fronts of missions today. On July 18 and 25 Lew Worrad will be teaching from Romans 8 on the implications of the resurrection for today.

In August, I will be doing a four-part series on the Holy Spirit. Tucked in there, on August 22, Jason Hildebrand (he came and did the life of David last year) will be acting out the story of the Prodigal Son.

Last but not least, Eric Prost will be finishing off our Summer teaching on September 5.

Summer construction:
If you were at our Annual Meeting, then you will know that the plan to renovate the old gym has been approved. As I write this (Thursday, June 24) the electricians are already up in the old gym starting their work. This renovation plan is all part of a bigger plan to leverage the building as best we can for our own use and to bless the community.

Summer staff focuses:
This summer our staff will be involved in various ministry focuses:
  • Fred Grendel will be working up at IAWAH for July and part of August. Pray for him as he provides key leadership up at Iawah. When he returns he will be leading a team up to Constance Lake near the end of August.
  • Jamie Stinson will be here for most of the summer other than some holiday time July 26-August 12. While here she will be engaged in long-term planning i.e. Family Experience, and running the “Acting Up” Summer Drama Camp (July 12-16), as well as taking care of the weekly demands of running the Family Ministries program.
By the way, there is cake downstairs for parents, kids and volunteers of Upstreet and Waumba Land after the service today (June 27). Don’t miss it!
  • Carmen Gauvin-O’Donnell, our administrator, will using the summer to continue policy development (job descriptions and the Bethel Financial Policy). Her other focus this summer will also be the possible implementation of electronic giving (which many people believe would be very useful in encouraging good stewardship at Bethel). She will also be helping the ushers revamp their training to take into account changes in their duties over the years. Finally, she will be reading up on the pros and cons of incorporating Bethel Church, thus taking the potential legal and financial pressure of the shoulders of our three trustees. And of course, she and Amy the secretary will continue conspire to make Bethel’s office the best organized office in the city! 
  • Mark Adams our building superintendent will be on holidays out West from June 27 to July 12th. Please keep him and his family in your prayers as they travel.
  • Bill Duffy, who heads up Pastoral Care, is off for July and August. When you have as much seniority as Bill, you get two months off!
  • Amy Grendel our secretary will be in the office Tuesday to Friday from 9am -1pm. She is busy getting our office into shape and taking care of the day-to-day duties that come with her role. More specifically, she is currently on three-day course learning the ins and outs of QuickBooks so she can take over the bookkeeping tasks.
  • Mark Kotchapaw - I will be taking some time off, not too sure when as I try to work my holiday time around kids being back in town and my wife’s holiday schedule. As I said above, the summer is a great time for long-term planning. For example, planning in the teaching ministry, laying out special services, vision development and implementation, small group organization, and meetings with key leadership as plans for the Fall come together.
New team-members:
We would like to welcome Dirk Bouma to our Deacons team. Dirk is a welcome addition to a team that has a lot on their plate as they manage facility issues and financial issues. We would also like to welcome Ron Dickey to the Elders’ team. Ron has served in various capacities at Bethel over the years and will bring some great perspective and insight to the team. He and his wife Tooty also head up our 50-Plus ministry.

Big budget increase:
If you have read our budget then you will know that the membership voted on a 14% budget increase. Gulp! Yes, that is huge, but we believe that our growth and developing vision is leading us in this way, and we also firmly believe that our God, in His providence, is “huger”. We are not asking for faithful givers to give more, necessarily. We are looking for those who attend Bethel, but do not give regularly to start being more faithful in this area. You can get your envelopes from the office. If you are part of the team and believe in this emerging vision then we need you to pray, and to give. We would encourage you to download the “Doors” series (June 13 and 20) if you missed this important two-week series on our direction.

A Big Thank You:
We are extremely grateful for the many volunteers that make the church run as it should. The vast majority of ministry work at Bethel is done by volunteers. We would like to thank Doug Boyd and Geoff Baker for their significant contribution in leadership over the last several years. Doug has served as chairman of the elders’ board and Geoff has been the church treasurer.

Over the summer months we want to encourage you to take responsibility for the kind of culture we are attempting to develop at Bethel on Sunday mornings. As each of us Pursue, Include and Engage, we can all contribute to developing a culture that says that people matter, and that we are not some kind of private “members-only” club. We want every single person that walks through the doors of our building on a Sunday morning to know that they matter. This means busting out of our comfort zones, taking the initiative, and looking for people who need a warm greeting.

I want to encourage you to continue to pray for the work of Bethel. We must never take our unity for granted, our resources as certain, and our impact as guaranteed. Like the bow of an ice breaker that cuts through the ice and the powerful engine that thrusts the boat forward, we need Jesus Christ the Head of our Church to guide us on our journey. The Holy Spirit is the engine that empowers, and it is Christ’s Headship at the bow that leads us.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Touching Base! Part 92

Doors Part 2
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

Over the last two weeks we have done a series entitled “Doors”. This series is designed to update people on where we are at as a Church, give people a sense of direction as to where we are headed, help people understand how to pray more effectively for the church and help them get on board if they still have not “boarded the train.” As an elders’ team we have been working on clarifying direction for Bethel. We have had two mini-retreats, met with leadership, invited the congregation to a Congregational Meeting to discuss this topic and had several one-on-one conversations. What I am presenting is the culmination of those conversations, and the growing conviction of the leadership team on how God is shaping and leading us.

On Sunday we talked about our second set doors. As a group take time to talk about these doors.

Door #1 Leaders that “say so!”
Door #2 Leaders that listen, learn and create a learning culture.
Text: 1 Peter 2:9, 1Corinthians 12:27, Eccl. 4:12
All healthy leadership scenarios involves responsibility and authority. I believe that part of that responsibility is to use authority to engage with those who are following. All leadership have a choice. Do I use my authority to “say so” or do I use my authority to listen and create a culture of learning and dialogue?

At Bethel the door we choose to walk through is door #2. This does not mean that we become part of the “soft limp-noodle age” Ephesians 2:19,20 speaks of the Truth that the Church is founded on.
“... you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
So what does a learning culture look like? I have come up with some contrasting statements that might help you or your group think this issue through.


A learning culture is anxious to listen and engage.
A LTSS (“Leaders That ‘Say So!’”) culture insists on dominating the discussion.

A learning culture is usually characterized by secure leaders, who are willing to engage with the generations, who are not easily threatened and who walk in a posture of humility.
A LTSS culture is often fraught with people who want power, resist change at all costs, only allow a very few to have any say, and bottleneck everything because all decisions must go through them.

A learning culture takes the time to truly understand where the other person is coming from.
A LTSS culture only thinks of where they are coming from.

A learning culture is imaginative and creative.
A LTSS culture is predictable, often locked-in to calcified ways.

A learning culture is not afraid to enter into dialogue because relationships are strong and authentic
A LTSS culture usually has a few loud voices and intimidating people that cause others to cower and relationships to suffer. Often leadership is too weak to reign in these kinds of loud voices.

A learning culture is a safe place to openly express one’s opinions.
A LTSS culture attacks, and personalizes the argument (they start to attack the person not just the idea).

A learning culture has anchored truth (i.e. vision, values, purpose, Biblical truth) that helps evaluate all interactions.
A LTSS culture has anchored truth at times, but it’s the power of the personality that more often dominates than the truth of God’s Word.

On Sunday, I interviewed Steve Dickey (chair of the elders’ team). Respond to the questions I asked him:
What is it like to work in an environment (workplace) where the leader does not use their authority to create a learning culture but where authority is used to bully or dominate in an unhealthy way? What has that done to you personally?
How have you seen it in the church? (You might want to be selective on how you answer this question)
Do you have an example in your life as a leader where you made a much better decision because you listened?
What do you find the biggest challenge as a leader, in using authority to listen and create a learning culture?

Door #1 The Church is like a university
Door #2 The church is like a university and hospital
Text: 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
(these verses contain both the teaching and transformation elements)
Some background- As an elders’ team we have discussed how Bethel is like a university. Historically it has been a place of learning and teaching. This is consistent with our earlier text, Ephesians 2:19, 20. This will always be one of our priorities, to teach God’s truth in different ways, to different generations. As we talked about this and the reality of our 0.5 mile radius, we also talked about how the Church is like a hospital. It is a place of mending broken bones, restoration, healing, transformation etc. This would seem to line up fairly well with what Jesus the Head of the Church said in Mark 2:17:
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Note Jesus likens himself to a doctor and sickness with being a sinner. We are all sick with this definition of sickness and we are all in need of a doctor.
In all the biblical metaphors of the church (to list a few - temple, body, family, building, flock) these two components of teaching and healing/transformation are involved.

On Sunday I interviewed Rhonda on the healing component of the Church. Reflect on some of the questions we discussed:
How important is feeling safe in the healing process?
What might be two or three characteristics of healthy community where we could disclose our “postcards” (“postcards” was used to refer to our brokenness) and grow in Christ likeness?

What is your understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to greater maturity in Christ? A great text that I love on this subject is Paul’s incredible prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:14-20. Note the role of the Holy Spirit (in August we are going to be doing a 4-part series on the role of the Holy Spirit)

“The main sin in the Old Testament was the rejection of God the Father while the main sin in the New Testament was the rejection of Christ the Son. Is it possible that the main sin of the contemporary Church is the rejection of the Third Person, the Holy Spirit?” (Jamie O. Davis, Gutenberg to Google, page 88,89)

Door #1 Island
Door #2 Partnerships
Church must Biblically respond in an age of increasingly complex issues and globalization. Partnerships allow us to access networks that provide more than a one-off sermon response. Partnerships make resources accessible to the Church that allow us to respond holistically to various issues. As we advance in our vision, key partnerships will be essential.

On Sunday I highlighted some of our key partnerships. I talked about how partnerships allow us to extend our reach, i.e. through a missions organization that helps us get funds to an area of need. However, partnerships also provide us with materials and networks that we can access in order to form a well-thought-out Biblical answer to complex issues.
As a group, talk about some of the complex issues the church needs help in addressing. What organizations might make good partners?

On Sunday we finished by corporately reading this statement below. Read it as a group!

Lord make us a Church where we love You passionately and serve others significantly.
Empower us by Your Spirit to be a people of integrity and authenticity, a place where Your Spirit is alive and invigorating, a church where we grow in intimacy with God, grow in intimacy with others and grow in acts of service.
May Your unchanging authoritative Word be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
Deliver us from anything that hinders our ministry, either here in the downtown core, or in our areas of residence and work.
Spare us from pettiness, Church politics, bitter roots and dysfunctional expressions of Church life.
Walk among us as you did with the seven Churches and affirm us, rebuke us and purify us.
May we be to each other as “iron sharpening iron”, that through our relationships and partnerships, we gain deeper and clearer insight into what it means to be the Body of Christ in the 21st century.
Might Your Name be announced as Great, and Your deeds be proclaimed among the nations as a result of our life together.
From 1874 (our founding date) to this present day we praise You for Your leadership, we acknowledge Your Headship, and humbly come under Your authority. Amen!

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact