Thursday, May 27, 2010

Touching Base! Part 89

Family Ministries Update

At Bethel we love the colour ORANGE; however, Orange is far more than just a colour. It’s a strategy to help build faith and character in people. You see, ORANGE represents the idea that two forces working together will have exponentially more influence than either entity alone. For us, that means parents and churches working together to make a difference in the lives of children. We see the red part of ORANGE as representing the heart of a family and the yellow part as representing the church and the light of Christ. When you combine the two you have an ORANGE strategy.

Our Sunday morning environments are part of something bigger! We really believe that what happens at home is more important then what happens at church. We want to partner with you, the parents to help engage in meaningful dialogue with your children about faith and character at home.

Our Vision
To create Orange families

Our Mission
To encourage, partner with and empower families because… ‘What happens at home is more important then what happens at church.’

Our Strategy:
Integrate Strategy (Two combined influences create synergy)
Align leaders and parents to lead with the same end in mind

Refine the Message (Two combined influences amplify what’s important)
Craft core truths into engaging relevant, and memorable experiences

Reactivate the Family (Two combined influences build an everyday faith)
Parents actively participate in the spiritual formation of their own children

Elevate Community (Two combined influences increase the odds)
Everyone is connected to a caring leader and a consistent group of peers

Leverage Influence (Two combined influences mobilize generations)
Create consistent opportunities for younger generations to experience personal ministry


We have come a long way in the development of the Orange vision since May 2009. It has been an exciting year in the area of Family Ministries. The upcoming year promises to hold a couple of new initiatives. In an effort to keep you informed lets look ahead to what is coming down the pipe in the next few months.

Looking Ahead…

Acting Up Summer Drama Camp
We are also looking forward to our first summer drama camp this July. We have room for 19 kids to sign up for “Snew White” the week of July 12th-16th. It is open to children ages 8-12. The camp runs from 9-3 pm each day. The cost is $150 for the week. We will celebrate with a performance on the evening of July 16th at 7:00 pm. Our volunteers are in place and we are just waiting for the camp to fill up! We still have room for 6 more kids. If you know of any budding young actors/actresses who would like to participate, please forward them the information on the Family Ministries website.

Coming Soon… “The Family Experience”
Each month in Upstreet our children are learning about a different virtue.
Beginning October 2010, we will be hosting a monthly Family Experience (FX).
The FX will be a shared worship experience for parents and children that will kick off the virtue for that month so parents can be informed about what the children are learning in Upstreet and can be better equipped to continue to teach the virtue at home.

The morning will run on the first Sunday of every month. We are hoping to have the service in the newly renovated old gym. If renovations are not complete by October, we will host it in the Upstreet room until renovations are complete. The FX one hour service will combine storytelling, drama, worship, media, and interaction.

Note: To give families an idea of what a Family Experience might look like, we offered a Good Friday Family Experience on April 2nd, 2010 in the Upstreet room. The service was well attended and families seem to enjoy a family centered Good Friday experience.

The FX embraces these core values:

Family Centered: it’s a family-centered production that requires parental involvement. It serves as a catalyst for the parent/child relationship. We want to encourage parents to spend quality time with their kids and to engage in the role of spiritual leadership with their children.

Kid Focused: is designed to create an upbeat and fun and relevant atmosphere for elementary-age children. In order to keep everyone engaged, we target it for 4th and 5th graders.

Virtue-driven: We emphasize a specific virtue to help kids develop faith and character. The meaning of the virtue is taught through examples from the Bible, nature, object lessons, media and sketches from everyday life.

Creatively wired: We will use innovative and creative tools to communicate timeless message….
edutainment is used to teach families.

User-friendly: Create a predictable and non-threatening place for families to bring friends…. our primary marketing tool will be word of mouth.

NOTE: Because we believe that “what happens at home is more important than what happens at church,” watch for ‘The Cue Box’ which is a resource for families that will encourage families to continue learning the virtue at home each month. Another way for us to empower parents! Exciting!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Touching Base! Part 88

When the Lawn Mower Won't Start!
(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

(NOTE: To understand this week’s title, download the sermon!) Ever had the experience of choking or panicking? Maybe those are words you would not use but nonetheless you crashed, under-delivered, and disappointed a whole whack of people in the process. Last week we looked at the transfiguration of Christ, His majesty, greatness and how this was to serve as a motivation for the disciples to listen to Him- “Jesus is amazing, listen to Him”. As we move on in Dr. Luke’s narrative our idea slightly shifts to, “I am not amazing, listen to Him!”

As a group, talk about a time in your life where you blew it. You knew that your “performance” was subpar, nothing to write home about.

Read Luke 9:37-45, that we looked at this past Sunday. Maybe to see the context better, you could also read last week’s text, Luke 9:28-36.

Scene 1- vs.37-40 - The Desperation and Disappointment of the Father
Take some time to examine the emotion of this scene. Notice the contrasts between this scene and the transfiguration. I mentioned these on Sunday.
  • From the mountain to the valley
  • From the Father and Son to the father and son
  • From Moses and Elijah to the current day disciples of Jesus
  • From the Kingdom of God to the Kingdom of Darkness

What is it like to know that no matter how hard you try, you cannot satisfy the person in need?

Scene 2 – vs.41-43a - The Frustration of the Saviour
Note towards who Jesus directs his words. It is one thing to disappoint a crowd or even a dad you don’t know but to disappoint Jesus, the one they admired and followed, must have really stung. Who is Jesus quoting? What is the significance of quoting Moses here?

Here is a possibly sensitive issue we can address: I wonder how much these words stuck on the insides of these disciples? Ever heard words from the person you disappointed and to this day they are stuck to your insides?
Willing to share the phrase, the word?

I wonder if these words of Jesus served months later as a motivation for the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. There are certain events in our lives that make us hungrier for God- right?

Side note - Matthew gives us a bit more detail – he tells us that it was their lack of faith. Mark tells us that it was the father’s faith to which Jesus responded. The father had greater faith than the disciples who had been with Jesus for 2-plus years. Mark also tells us that this kind of bondage needs prayer - some translations say prayer and fasting.

You have to wonder how far their hearts had wandered in the short time of Christ’s absence. Makes you wonder what false practices, godless approaches they had adopted.

Scene 3 – vs.43b-45 The Wonder of the Crowd
I love v.43. It literally means that they were struck out of their senses. Luke is making the point clear - Jesus is amazing!
Note the “demonic” aspects in this whole passage. Let me make some comments here and discuss as a group additional insights.
  1. Jesus has authority. Fear is not a factor, respect yes, but not fear. The writer is not wanting to sensationalize the demonic but clearly show that Jesus has authority. The crowds are struck out of their senses with Jesus, not the demonic. “Exorcists normally tried to subdue demons by incantations invoking higher spirits, or by using smelly roots or pain-compliance techniques. Jesus here uses only His command, thereby showing His great authority.”
  2. The demonic is real and is why Jesus is headed to Jerusalem (referred to in transfiguration) - “ ... authentic Christian faith must honestly recognize the depth, subtlety and power of evil. On this, biblical teaching about human folly and depravity provides a necessary bulwark against naive readings of the human condition. The New Age theory that evil is just “live” spelled backwards simplifies a very dark and sinister reality.” (Ideas from James Beverly)
  3. This text is not saying that everyone who has a convulsion and foams at the mouth is demonic. Holistic approaches to healing must consider the spiritual but not think that all physical ailments are demonically driven.
  4. The boy is probably Jewish, circumcised, following the religious code - but note it is only Jesus that can set him free. “Religion” will fail every time. (This was Carmen’s point from our teaching team)
  5. As Christ followers we need to be on our guard- the enemy can harass us. (Eph. 6:10-20)
One final comment:
Sometimes it is not through our strengths but through our failures that God is most glorified. We often think of needing to be strong, but this text demonstrates that even in my failure, my brokenness, selfishness, and confusion, God can be glorified. At times, God works in spite of me, not because of me. The boy is healed, the father is delighted, the people are amazed and there sit the disciples… embarrassed. What is interesting about this event is that after this event no one is talking about how great the disciples are, they are talking about Jesus. The ultimate goal of Bethel is to get people talking about Jesus - I am not amazing, listen to Him!
Maybe our prayer needs to be “Thank you Father for working through my brokenness, advancing your kingdom even when I blow it, accomplishing your purposes even when I stink the joint out.” This story does not give us permission to stay where we are, but it reminds us we have a Saviour who can work through us wherever we are at.

Here is a creed you may want to reflect on, not in self-flagellation but as a sober reminder of our feet of clay and the One to whom our lives need to direct people.

I am not amazing, listen to Him.
My weaknesses are numerous and my faults are obvious - I am not amazing, listen to Him.
My track record is not perfect and those I have disappointed are many - I am not amazing, listen to Him.
I have at times brought people down, not up, been a poor role model to follow - I am not amazing, listen to Him.
There have been days that instead of taking two steps forward, I have taken three back - I am not amazing, listen to Him.
I attend a church that is so much like me - broken in some ways, growing in His Way - We are not amazing, listen to Him.

However, I thank God for His grace, for a chance at a new day. His words give me hope, His Spirit gives me life. His righteousness gives me a new identity and destiny and His transforming work in my life give me the privilege of speaking humbly into people’s lives.

He is amazing, listen to Him.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, May 14, 2010

Touching Base! Part 87

Three Words for Three Guys!
(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.

Have you ever heard the saying, “If all you have in your toolkit is a hammer, then you will tend to treat everything like a nail”? As kids growing up, or now as parents, we know that each kid needs a slightly different parenting style. You may have grown up in a home where you saw very clearly how your parents treated you differently than your siblings, not because of favouritism (hope not) but because of temperament differences. For those of us who are parents, we know that different kids require different approaches. Take a moment and discuss how you handled your kids differently because of temperament, and personality. If you are not a parent, think about your parents, and how they treated you differently than your sibling(s).

Our text under examination is Luke 9:28-36. I think one of the issues in this text is that Jesus has three “kids”, Peter, John and James who need to be pulled aside for a private huddle. They need to see some things, and hear some things, that will feed into the unique spiritual journey that God has them on. I think when Jesus is praying in this narrative, He is praying specifically for the three amigos.

As a group, read through the text and answer the question - Based on what the Father says to the three, what do you think Jesus is praying? Why do you think these three needed to hear this message? Let me give you some clues....
Peter - Most frequently mentioned of the 12 - Displayed vital leadership in the early history of the early church.
James - First martyr among the apostles and the only one whose martyrdom is mentioned in the NT. Acts 12 - James loses his head - but the church is praying for Peter and he escapes prison.
John - Mentioned as the first disciple to recognize the significance of the empty tomb. Brother of James- became Bishop of Ephesus

Note that one of the motivations to listen to Jesus is based on the majesty of Jesus that is demonstrated in this text. One writer has said of this text...
“This glorious transformation of the appearance of Christ is the most significant event between his birth and passion. In each of the synoptic Gospels, it stands as a magnificent Christological statement.”

Peter, recalling his vision of Christ, says “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” 2 Peter 1:16

The majesty (greatness, splendour) of Christ is to be one of the healthy motivations for Christ-followers to listen to Him. The big idea on Sunday was Jesus is amazing, listen to Him. Take some time to discuss how the majesty of Jesus is demonstrated in this text and how it is connected to being better listeners.
1. The majesty (greatness) of Jesus is demonstrated in the connectedness and effectiveness of His prayer life. v. 28,29
Luke emphasizes the importance and power of Christ’s prayer life.

Jesus prays at His baptism and then Father appears, speaks (Luke 3:21-22)
Jesus private prayer precedes His Galilean ministry (Luke 4:43)
Jesus in prayer followed by the choosing the 12 disciples (Luke 6:12)
Jesus in prayer and then the great confession (Luke 9:18)
Jesus in prayer is the platform for Jesus and the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-29)

If you had been one of the disciples walking with Jesus and saw the connection between prayer and action in Christ’s life, what might you have concluded? How does this demonstrate His majesty?

Earlier I had said that I think Jesus is praying, amongst other issues, that these three would listen. Who are you praying for these days, who needs to listen to Christ?

2. The majesty of Jesus is seen in His physical appearance. V29,32
Note that the disciples describe Christ’s physical appearance as glorious. The word means splendour, magnificence, majesty. On Sunday I said that “the physical state of Jesus is demonstrating the uniqueness of Jesus and the majesty of Jesus. They are getting a peek, seeing the nature of Jesus through a window.”
Do you agree with the above statement? What else might this transformation illustrate?
John puts some of what they are seeing (majesty) into words. Read Rev 1:7-8. Paul gives us insight in Col. 2:9. What other texts illustrate in words what the disciples are seeing?

How might this encourage the three to listen? Who in your life needs a fresh glimpse of Christ, a truly biblical vision of Jesus to draw them into obedience?

3. The majesty of Jesus is seen in who He hangs out with.
Verses 30 and 31 paint a powerful picture. If you were a first century Jew “reading this picture” you would see very clearly what Luke is saying. Moses and Elijah were Jewish superheroes. To put Jesus in this picture with these two icons was saying something very special about Jesus. But notice how the text shows the supremacy of Jesus in comparison to Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah are described as men, it is the glory of Jesus the disciples see, not Moses and Elijah. Also note that the Father tells the three to listen to, not Moses or Elijah, but Jesus. He is the Chosen One. Also note what Moses, Elijah and Jesus are talking about. Jesus is heading to Jerusalem because He is the spotless Lamb of God that will take away the sin of the world. Moses and Elijah don’t qualify. They need a Saviour just as much as you and me.

Got any guesses why Peter offers to build three shelters? This question will test if you listened to the teaching on Sunday. Regardless of what we conclude, the text makes it clear that what Peter was doing was wrong. The Father clarifies what kind of response is correct. Listen to Him!
Shelters might be your idea but “Listen to Him” is the Fathers command.

Discuss as a group what “shelters” can be symbolic of in our walk with God. For example, “shelters” can represent the agenda that hinders us from listening to the promptings of Jesus. “Shelters” can represent issues of bondage that prevent us from walking in obedience. “Shelters” can represent what we want not what God wants.

Finally, note v27. I believe we see the fulfillment of that statement in the transfiguration. The centerpiece of the Kingdom (like on a table) on earth is Jesus. If you want to understand what the Kingdom of God is all about, what it looks like, how we are to live, values we are to embrace, truth that is to guide our lives… look no further than Jesus.

How might seeing Jesus free people and empower them to truly listen?

Jesus is amazing, listen to Him!


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, May 7, 2010

Touching Base! Part 86

My Day On The Street
(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.

A couple of weeks ago I participated in what is called a “social audit”. This involved visiting places that cater to the very needy of our society and interviewing them. Our purpose was to collect data that will be collated and presented to the provincial government with recommendations about how to better improve the plight of the poor in our society. The following are some of the reflections that I submitted to the team with which I was working.

This report, to my understanding, asks for reflections on our day-long experience of interacting with people who have hit one of life’s worst speed bumps - poverty. It was a day filled with voices and faces that became deeply personal as the voices revealed raw emotion, and the faces became windows revealing internal worlds that were often troubled, confused, messy and frustrated. Sitting and listening to these new friends of mine left me with many thoughts and impressions.

My first impression would be that there are no easy answers for many of the predicaments people find themselves in. These new friends told me of personal circumstances that were all connected like a spider’s web. Untangling such complexity certainly would not only take lots of time but much wisdom and discernment. People don’t end up on the street or in a one-room boarding house trying to eek out an existence on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program because of one bad day, but rather because of one bad life. I was fascinated to hear of the domino effect of how one “bad day” led to another “bad day” and to another, then another, which eventually landed them on skid row. There are no solutions that are based on one answer or one person. Rather, a cluster of approaches is probably needed to truly bring a redemptive lift to people’s complex lives.

Secondly, I was impressed by how brokenness and desperation can be fertile grounds for deep community. While loneliness and isolation are certainly battles the poor must engage in, the sense of community can also be found amongst a people with deep-seated affinity. I saw and heard how seasons of despair bound people together. I saw and heard how people trying to dig themselves out of the same hole, nurtured a vulnerability amongst fellow travellers that richer communities would be envious of. I saw one man nicknamed Hankenstein give up his soup so John, who had missed out on the soup line, could find some nourishment. They even shared the same spoon. Now that’s community!

Thirdly, a very common theme of family breakdown came up in several conversations; spouses who had exited, children who were estranged, parents who had been abusive, siblings who had turned a deaf ear. For many, their first experience of abandonment has not come from their government but from their closest kin. The foundation of family had not been there for them as children. They then ventured out, perpetuating the problem by reproducing a second generation of downward-spiralling family life. Like the Challenger shuttle in ‘86, things blew up, leaving them trying to pick up the pieces, without the family network.

Fourth, the face of poverty can look pretty good. Poverty doesn’t always look like what the stereotypes suggest; soiled and ratty clothes, slouching posture, toothless, smelly and uneducated. I met some poor people who could stand in for any family portrait and play the part - well-groomed, educated, conversational and engaged. In fact, the face of poverty could walk right by us on the street and we would never know of that person’s desperate state. Possibly poverty is producing a whole new breed - a breed that looks good but whose actual state is destitute.

Finally, as has been impressed upon me by my intern Joanna Moon, what the poor need is not to be another person’s “project”. They do not need to just be another budgetary item on the provincial and federal government budgets. They do not need to be the “target” of another local organization that tosses Christmas turkeys and canned goods their way on a seasonal impulse. What they need is relationships with people who, in many ways, are just as broken, but in different ways - people who can come alongside them and who are willing to be vulnerable and real - people who are able to see the poor as friends. They need community beyond just experiencing community with other people who have hit a similar speed bump. They need community with people who can offer a “hand up” not just a “hand out”, who can befriend them, not patronize them, who can run the marathon with them not just dump and run. For me, that is the greatest challenge as a community leader.

How do I arrange my life so to take the time to build relationship with a few and thus somehow help people get back up? As I love God more passionately and keep in step with His Spirit, I know He will lead me to serve and befriend the poor. Didn’t Jesus do that?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact