Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Touching Base! Part 192

All Time Is Not Equal

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

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.

Here is an interesting exercise: take a piece of paper and draw a horizontal time line. Write on the left, birth, and at the end of the line, today. Now take a highlighter and mark on that line representing time, the most important dates, perhaps a season in your life.
  • What were those dates or seasons that stand out most?
  • How did what happen back then shape you?
  • Was it positive or negative?
  • Who were the people in that memory?

By looking at your timeline you would no doubt agree with me that all time is not equal. There are seasons, dates that hold greater weight, and influence in our lives than others. Christmas reminds us that all time is not equal. Two thousand years ago there lived a man, the God Man, whose words, deeds and identity shape us and influence us still today. There is no other time period in all of human history that has so dramatically impacted how the rest of history would unfold:

“Jesus’ impact was greater 100 years after his death than during his life; it was greater still after five hundred years; after a thousand years his legacy laid the foundation for much of Europe; after two thousand years he has more followers in more places than ever. […] His influence has swept over history like the tail of a comet, bringing his inspiration to influence art, science, government, medicine, and education; he has taught humans about dignity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.” John Ortberg, Who Is This Man (p.11-12).

What is interesting is that this time without equal, is not only looked back upon, but was looked forward to. Check out Luke 24:25-27, Matt 1:22,23,1 Peter 1:10-12. It’s like a centerpiece on a table, wherever you sit at the table you can see the centerpiece and its centrality to the table arrangement. Likewise, wherever you are in history, whether looking forward or back, this time is central, highlighted and of great influence.

Read Hebrews 1:1-4. Note the phrase, “in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son”.
  • What are the words of Jesus that have deeply shaped you?
  • How have those words made you to be a completely different person than if you had ignored them and allowed other words to shape you?
  • What current challenges are you facing that are really the result of heeding the words of Jesus?
  • What do you find are the hardest words of Jesus to heed?

Another great exercise is to take a Bible where the words of Jesus are in red letters. Read through and see what words of Christ you find most challenging. On Sunday I gave several examples.

Take some time and pray for each other. As we allow His life to shape us, and the Holy Spirit to control us, we need each other to remain strong, faithful and aligned.

All time is not equal. The life of Christ, His death and resurrection are the centerpiece to all of human history. His words are to shape us, for He may have come as a baby, but He is no longer our baby but our King, the Head of the Church, the First and the Last, Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God. As Paul said of Him (1 Tim 3:16), “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”

On Sunday we took some time to demonstrate how the words of Jesus shape us by updating people on the Bethel House Ministry. This ministry is a tangible example of how Jesus shapes us today. As a church, we are shaped by the life of Christ and thus feel compelled to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed. The following is a bit about this all -important ministry at Bethel:

Bethel House is a ministry of Bethel Church that provides safe, supportive, transitional housing for men recovering from alcohol and/or drug addiction. Having successfully completed an 8–12 week live-in treatment program at Salvation Army Harbour Light in Kingston, Ontario, men wishing to remain in Kingston have the option of moving into one of two houses located next to the church at 318 and 324 Johnson Street and corporately called “Bethel House.”

This is because, unfortunately, even those who have successfully completed a recovery program are often forced back into old lifestyle patterns because of a lack of safe, affordable, transitional housing - when leaving a treatment or recovery program, many people actually require an additional stabilizing step in their recovery process before fully transitioning back into the community. This is normally a period of 8-12 months. Thus, this ministry has grown out of a desperate need in our community which has been documented in numerous poverty, healthcare and social service studies over the last few years.

During the summers of 2006 and 2007, both houses owned by Bethel Church were renovated as the congregation supported a decision to move from student housing to a more ministry-focused need in our community. Many people from Bethel Church, the greater community and the staff at Harbour Light assisted in this major undertaking, and continue to support this ministry today through prayer, practical donations such as bedding, clothing for our men, televisions, furniture, food (muffins and cookies are always appreciated) and even fund-raisers and financial gifts. Financial gifts have been used for tutoring our guys returning to school, special needs relevant to individual residents and matters related to the ongoing operations and maintenance of the houses.

Over the years, our guys’ stories of struggle and success have encouraged many of us in our own challenges and faith walk, as they have helped us to better understand the world of mental health and addictions. And your ongoing support and engagement of our guys lightens their step each day.

So far, this ministry has seen approximately 70 men pass through our doors in the last five years, the majority of whom have successfully reintegrated back into the community either in Kingston or elsewhere.

Bethel House would not be possible without the ongoing prayer and financial support of our church and community. The Bethel House Committee, comprised of leadership from both Bethel Church and the Salvation Army Harbour Light Program, covets your prayers for us as we meet regularly to pray and plan for this ministry. As well, we encourage you to become involved in this ministry, first and foremost, by reaching out to our men and encouraging them in their recovery journey. You will find, as we have found, that the blessing of knowing ‘our guys’ is mutual.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Bethel House Ministry or how you can be a part of this work, please feel free to contact Sandy Sheahan (Ministry Chair) at 613 540-0518 or sheahan@queensu.ca

Sandy Sheahan (on behalf of the Bethel House Ministry Team)

Mark Kotchapaw

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

Monday, December 10, 2012

Touching Base! Part 191

Jeremiah was a bullfrog? - Part 9
The Mute Stones Speak

Guest posting by Eric Prost

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

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.

Read Jeremiah 23:5-6 and 33:12-16; Lamentations 2:8; Luke 19:37-40.

If the walls in your house could talk, what would they say? What if your walls could gossip? What is said when it’s just your family at home? How do you spend your time when you’re home alone?

What if the walls in the Oval Office could talk? Would they recite statistics and reasoned arguments? Would they praise the chief executives who have sat behind that desk? Or would they lament the dead in wars executed from that room or weep for the injustices of rich and poor?

If the stones in the White House or the parliament buildings are anything like stones in the Bible, they would show strong emotions. They wouldn’t reason with you; they would be passionate with loud emotion even when – especially when - no one else was joining in. They would always be accurate to the occasion. Offensive maybe, but accurate: If a lament were suitable, they would weep; if praise, they would shout it out immediately.

In this week’s sermon and this accompanying Touching Base, we’re going to come back to stones.

The Big Idea is this: Lamentation and Praise go together in God’s good news for human beings – the Gospel – and God’s good news is, after all, what Christmas is about.

This is the last Touching Base in our series on the Prophet, and the Book of, Jeremiah. Pastor Mark has posed hard questions over the last couple of months. What are your idols? What verses or passages of scripture do you “burn” by outright rejecting them or explaining them away? Are you willing to wear a plaid jacket from Costco in order to be countercultural? Jeremiah was imprisoned, put in stocks, and lowered into a mucky pit because he was countercultural.

So we’re wrapping up this series on the Second Sunday of Advent with the church decorated for Christmas and we’re talking about a weeping prophet. How does this work?

Weeping and Lamenting

I read through the Book of Jeremiah again during this sermon series. It’s not an easy read. God tells Jeremiah to say a lot of things. Many of the things are, not surprisingly, hard for the wicked to hear. Jeremiah is ignored, imprisoned, tortured. He is the weeping prophet: he weeps for Jerusalem, he weeps for the people left behind, he weeps for the people exiled, he weeps for himself and how he does just what God wants him to and is then abused for it.

Jeremiah must have cringed whenever he heard the Lord say, “Go and proclaim…go and proclaim,” over and over again.

Why did God need a prophet at all, one who persisted for 52 chapters “proclaiming” to the people?

God needed a prophet because he is gracious and merciful and longsuffering. He continually engaged his people and their leaders with instruction and love and second and third and fourth chances. And even when they reaped the punishment of exile, he still guided and took care of them.

How did God feel? Listen to the stones. Stones don’t often speak in the Bible, but when they do, they obey their Creator. They are pure emotion, straight-up intense emotion. It is as if the oldest and most primordial of God’s creation, the part that has been around the longest with the Creator, gives out the most apt but primitive of utterances. Not sophisticated, but right on.

See if you can find other examples of audible stones in the Bible.

So what does God feel? The stones (and God) lament. Lamentations 2:8: “He made the ramparts and walls lament.” The 2nd chapter of Lamentations is discussing God’s anger and what he has done; yet here the ramparts – the obedient stones – are lamenting. Matthew 23: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Here are the stones of Jerusalem weeping and lamenting with God at what is happening.

So the Book of Jeremiah is about a lot of warnings and a lot of consequences for sin and a lot of judgment. And then Jeremiah writes a book specifically about lament to go with it.

So is there any consolation, any hope? What else can the stones say?

Praise and Worship

Jeremiah is a book of prophecy in the sense that it’s about a prophet to whom God gives a message of warning. But Jeremiah also has the honour of foretelling the messiah’s advent (chs 23 & 33): The days are coming when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch…This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Saviour…in the villages around Jerusalem…flocks will again pass under the hand of the ones who counts them”.

Find other OT prophets who anticipated Christ’s Advent.

The expression “being saved” has vanished from our Christian vocabularies, but it is quite Biblical. What better place to stand than to be safe, to be saved? God calls Jesus a “saviour” throughout scripture. “He will save his people from their sins.” The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” “If you will confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). The people of Israel and Judah would be saved from the Babylonians, they would be saved from judgment, and, best of all, they would be saved from their sins.

Luke 2:8-14. “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord…Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peach, good will toward men’”.

Read Luke 19:37-40.

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Let’s talk more about stones. “…the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

“I tell you, he replied, “if they keep quiet, the very stones will cry out.”

Picture this. It’s the night Jesus was born. The shepherds are watching their flock. Suddenly a great company of angels appears, praising God. What if someone had then shouted at the glowing sky, “Stop it!” What if they’d shouted at the baby Jesus, “Rebuke those angels, Baby Jesus, shut them up!”

It’s absurd, blasphemous.

“Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

“Oh no, if they keep quiet, these very stones would immediately cry out!”

Here’s God’s primitive creation speaking because it cannot keep quiet. This isn’t judgment but triumph. They shout, not in lament, but in praise.

Let’s mix the verses in Jeremiah and Luke together. “Today, in the town of David, a Righteous Branch sprouting from David’s line has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord, Our Righteous Saviour.”

The stones lament because God must be judge. But he has provided a way of escape with Advent. And when he triumphs over sin, when sinners repent, when he is acknowledged as King, the stones cry out in praise and worship.

We live in a city built on, and built of, limestone. This Advent season, don’t leave it up to the stones to praise their Creator. God values your repentance and your praise far more.

Eric Prost
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Touching Base! Part 190

Jeremiah was a bullfrog? - Part 8
Idolatry's Appeal

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

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 morning is part 2 in addressing the issue of idolatry found in Jeremiah. You can download last week’s TB by going to our website (www.bethelkingston.com).

The key text again this Sunday was Jeremiah 2:13, and the question we asked was, “Why would the people of Israel and Judah make this trade? Why would they trade in the Spring of Living Water for broken cisterns?” Our big idea answers the question. If you are discussing this TB in a small group take some time to consider several answers to this question. Here is the one we focused in on.

Big Idea
: Idolatry appeals to our desires. In other words there is an aspect of idolatry that feels good. Like eating ice cream on a hot day.

Note in our text that this is a picture of work, labour, sweat, effort, cost, and energy. What do you think they believed as they intentionally moved away from God and embraced idols? No doubt they are thinking “This will satisfy my thirst”. They are not doing this to keep busy, or to fill the time - this effort is a thirst-quenching exercise!
What are the “thirsts” that idolatry will tell us it can satisfy?
For some help on this see the following.
Control: You know you have a control idol if your greatest nightmare is uncertainty.
Approval: You know you have an approval idol if your greatest nightmare is rejection.
Comfort: You know you have a comfort idol if your greatest nightmare is stress or demands.
Power: You know you have a power idol if your greatest nightmare is humiliation or embarrassment.
(Resource: Justin Buzzard – http://www.preachingtoday.com)

Read Jer. 2:23-25 and note the sensuality of this, the indulgence of an appetite. Whatever we inhale lines up with something in our hearts, something we “need”, something we want, something we crave. Note the addictive nature of idolatry in v.25.
Consequently it can be very hard to part with, or in the case of a good thing, to put it in its proper place. It can be like taking a cookie out of the hand of the cookie monster. Desires can make us addicts.
Someone might say, “But doesn’t God want to give me the desires of my heart?” Yes, but only when God is in charge, shaping our desires and showing us how to legitimately fulfill those desires. God doesn’t write blank cheques.
Take some time to discuss this and see what Jeremiah says about this in Jeremiah 10:23.

Dallas Willard has said that the central condition of spiritual formation is removing yourself from the center.
But notice how idolatry wants to put ME at the center. ME and my desires. Again this becomes an issue of authority which we see all began back in the garden.

Think about this statement: “Idolatry’s goal is to put the unqualified in control of our lives.” The “unqualified” are our desires from within. How are our desires unqualified? What might be their blind spots, their shortcomings?

Maybe this is why Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Is it any wonder that Jeremiah says the cisterns are broken and cannot hold water? Listen to what one person says about sorrow and despair. I think this sums up leaky cisterns pretty well.

Sorrow is pain for which there are sources of consolation. Sorrow comes from losing one good thing among others, so that, if you experience a career reversal, you can find comfort in your family to get you through. Despair however, is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing. When you lose the ultimate source of your meaning or hope, there are no alternative sources to turn to. It breaks your spirit. (see Tim Keller – Counterfeit Gods, xiii).

Now read Jer. 9:23-24. Aren’t these great verses demonstrating why God is the Spring of Living Water?

The following are some ways to help you identify your idols. Remember that it is ultimately God the Holy Spirit that reveals the intentions and condition of our heart. Psalm 139 reminds us to allow God to search our hearts.

1. Look at your generational patterns. Note Jer. 2:5-“your forefathers”. What idols were “set up” in your family’s home? Have they been passed down?

2. Look at your culture. What is everyone worshiping? - note 2:13 “ My people” You just had to look around to see what the idols were in Judah. What do you see in our culture?

3. Look below the surface. Remember there are external idols, but the greater problem is the internal idols that allow the external idols to exist. See above regarding control, approval, comfort, power. If we don’t deal with the deeper idols it will be next to impossible to deal with the surface idols. Agree?

Here are some further examples of not so obvious idols:
    False beliefs
    “I don’t deserve God, this spring of living water. My past, my shame, my brokenness, my failures makes me more deserving of a broken leaky cistern.” Our false beliefs become idols because they end up having more authority over us than the truth.

    “many make even their enemies their god… when they are more troubled, disquieted, and perplexed at apprehensions of danger to their liberty, estates, and lives from men” than they are concerned about God’s displeasure.’ David Clarkson- 17th century English minister.

    One person said noise can become an idol. It serves to distract and keep one from hearing the voice of God in His Word or the voice of the Holy Spirit.
    4. Ask people close to you. (friends, family, team members, spouse) Why?

    Not only does idolatry exhale God from being the top priority, idolatry will often exhale other important things from being in the right priority. Idolatry does not just offend God it can offend those close to us. Just ask a spouse whose husband or wife works too much.

    5. Take the IQ test (“Idolatry Quotient”):
    • Where does my sense of security come from?
    • Where does my sense of identity come from?
    • What consumes my thoughts? What do I dream about?
    • How do I feel when…. Is taken away or if it was taken away from me?
    • How do I resemble the world?
    • What do I habitually think about to get joy and comfort in the privacy of my heart?
    • Where do I spend my money?
    Augustine said....
    “Do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser love for things that should be loved equally.” Augustine (in D.K. Naugle, 51)

    Finally, I would say, do not be naive to the strategy of the enemy, 1 Peter 5:8. Idolatry is everywhere we look. If idolatry manifested itself through literal statues then every household in North America would be full. There would be no room for the people to even live in their homes.

    We need to realize that warfare is real and we are targets. I like what Alexander Solzhenitsyn said - he saw the corruption of the Soviet system, felt the pressure to surrender and conform but courageously resisted and said “let the lie come, but not through me.”

    Not through me oh Lord, not through me!


    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 189

    Jeremiah was a bullfrog? - Part 7
    What Are You Inhaling?

    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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.

    Think about our culture, and how true the following statement is:
    “We expect anything and everything. We expect the contradictory and the impossible. We expect compact cars which are spacious; luxurious cars which are economical. We expect to be rich and charitable, powerful and merciful, active and reflective, kind and competitive …. We expect to eat and stay thin, to be constantly on the move and ever more neighborly, to go to a "church of our choice" and yet feel its guiding power over us, to revere God and to be God. Never have people been more the masters of their environment. Yet never has a people felt more deceived and disappointed. For never has a people expected so much more than the world could offer.” (Daniel Boorstin, The Image)

    Do we live in a world wondering about the validity of the things in which we have put our hope and trust?

    This morning we talked about idolatry. Approximately 2600 years ago, a whole nation (Judah) was guilty of idolatry - the act of placing the creation above the Creator, the act of willfully setting aside God and setting up idols who receive the worship only God deserves.

    Key Text: Jeremiah 2:13
    Notice the two actions that they were involved in.
    “Forsaking” - Which means to abandon, or leave behind.
    “Digging” - literally means to cut or to carve.
    On Sunday I likened forsaking to exhaling and digging to inhaling. When we exhale, we remove from our lungs the air that is present and immediately replace it by inhaling the air that surrounds us. This physical reality illustrates what we can do with God. We exhale God from the center of our lives, from being in charge and inhale whatever else is out there, that we deem worthy of our worship and that we think will give us life.

    Big Idea: Idolatry is when we exhale God and inhale whatever else is out there.

    Here are four observations of this exchange process referred to in our text.

    1. Moving from a godly orientation to an ungodly orientation.

    The context of Jeremiah is that these are a people that once followed God, but have moved to an ungodly orientation. Notice Jeremiah 2:1-4: they are inhaling God. God is central, God enlivens them, excites them - He is their object of worship. But then note (v.)5 they have exhaled God, removed God from that central place and inhaled what? Worthless idols!

    It is a rearranging of life, a choosing of a new priority, a reversing of what God has done and where He has been in the believer’s/nation’s life. He has moved from the center to the margins, from the throne room to the back room.

    Listen to what Stuart Macalister says in Catalyst Magazine:
    “Christianity demands a change of focus and orientation. The scriptures call for self renunciation as a core aspect of the life it envisions. The heart, and its ordering is of course central to this. The tragic view of humanity, and the understanding of the heart’s inclination or orientation, means we need to be careful in monitoring what captivates and captures our hearts.”
    Note, “we need to be careful...” In other words this process (exhale, inhale…) that can change our orientation needs to be guarded against. Jeremiah 17:9 confirms this: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

    Ever experienced the temptation to move from a godly orientation to an ungodly orientation?
    Some writers refer to the heart as an idol factory. How can your heart become an idol factory?

    Be careful what you inhale!

    2. If you do the first- exhale (forsake) you will do the second inhale (dig).

    “My people have committed two sins” - Not one but two. Why is that? Let’s refer to our theologian friend Bob Dylan. What did he so eloquently write (and by some standards, poorly) sing? You Gotta Serve Somebody. Just as it is impossible in the physical realm to exhale without inhaling (unless of course you are dead) so too in the spiritual realm, it is impossible to forsake God and just remain neutral. There is no neutral territory. Judah was never in a state of “not” worshipping, following, something or somebody. When you say no to God you immediately, just like taking your next breath, say yes to something or someone else. Agree, disagree?

    Here is the great danger, what we inhale can be anything. Nothing, not even the cutest little kid on the block, is exempt from becoming an idol in someone’s life. I have heard it said that the reason fighting terrorism is so challenging, is because there is no country to attack, no army in military garb to target. Likewise, you can’t say “these five things”, “these three items” are the idols to avoid. Anything, even Bob’s Big Boy Hot Fudge Cake can become an idol.

    Got any good things that are idols, that have robbed God of being priority #1?
    Be careful what you inhale!

    3. It can be a subtle process - exhale, inhale

    V. 2:13 is a picture of what can be a very subtle process. Forsaking and digging are not always accompanied with loud noises, like bashing pans together. Sometimes the shift is subtle, like a silent killer. It can start ever so subtly in the Christ follower’s life.

    Group exercise: Sit as a group and see if you can hear each other breathing. Yes, I know this is weird but then so am I. Just do it - you will feel much better. What do you note? In most cases you cannot hear a person breathing. Yes there are loud talkers, but rarely do we think to ourselves “Wow that person breathes loud!” Ever been in a movie and had someone say, “Please don’t breathe so loud, people are trying to listen to the movie!” Ever heard someone say, “If you are going to breathe so loud then take it outside, I am trying to watch the news!” Doubt it!

    Likewise, our act of idolatry can be silent and subtle.

    David Clarkson distinguishes between external idolatry, which consists in literal bowing down to a physical image, and internal idolatry, which consists of an act of the soul. “When the mind is most taken up with an object and the heart and affections most set upon it, this is soul worship; and this is… the honor due only to the Lord, to have the first, the highest place, both in our minds and hearts and endeavors.” The worship of our idols in some cases is not as obvious as bowing own to Molech, Baal or Zeus (the three stooges).

    Think of the subtle ways we shift allegiance as we walk through the day. Exhale, inhale... On Sunday I gave several examples.

    Another reason for the subtlety is because we can actually be doing the right thing but be motivated by an idol in our heart. For example, I can attempt to preach my best sermon to satisfy my need for affirmation, validation and praise. Ya, I know ugly eh!

    Be careful what you inhale!

    4. What is so subtle can be so evil.

    2:13 is a picture of adultery, treason and self-salvation. Not a pretty picture.
    - Adultery - check out Jer. 2:32; 3:1b-2,6-10,14; 5:7,8
    - Treason/Disloyalty - check out Romans 1:25,26
    - Self-salvation - check out Jer. 2:28

    Just in case you are not yet convinced of the evil, check out Jer. 2:5 “They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” This is a theme all throughout Scriptures. Idolatry is not good for the soul. Note what is said about when we take good things and turn them into idols. Imagine what can happen when we take worthless things and turn them into idols.
    “What many people call “psychological problems” are simple issues of idolatry. Perfectionism, workaholism, chronic indecisiveness, the need to control the lives of others- all of these stem from making good things into idols that then drive us into the ground as we try to appease them.” (Timothy Kellar, Counterfeit Gods.)

    Be careful what you inhale!

    Here is your assignment in preparation for next week. Ask God to sensitize your heart this week to the number of times you exhale, inhale. Ask for God to show you where an idol is in control, not God, where anything other than God is more greatly shaping, leading or influencing you.
    And then list what your top 5 idols could be, like Bob’s Big Boy Hot Fudge Cake.

    Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” Are you?


    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 188

    Jeremiah was a bullfrog? - Part 6
    What's on the Inside Matters

    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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’s on the inside matters! Anyone question that? Anyone think that is a nonsensical statement? Take a few minutes and write down what’s on the inside. Think of these questions:
    • What are your dominant emotions?
    • Who are they directed at?
    • What are the thoughts that captivate you?
    • Who did you most recently have an intimate conversation with? What did that reveal about your heart, what’s on the inside?
    • What would be the image/picture that would best describe what’s on the inside these days?

    In our study of Jeremiah, we discover that he revealed more of his inner feelings and personal reactions towards God and men than did any other prophet in Old Testament times - there are 7 main texts that are Jeremiah’s “confessionals”. Jeremiah speaks in the first person - he unloads! He talks to God about the great swells in the ocean. At times he is filled with praise, and at other times.... well, let’s just take a look.

    Let’s look at a few of these texts as we unpack our big idea, What’s Inside Matters!

    For sure, Jeremiah found himself in some pretty lonely places.
    • A prison - Jeremiah 37:11-16
    • A cistern - Jeremiah 38:4-6 (a type of well)
    • Stocks- Jeremiah 20:1-6

    These places are not like a Starbucks or busy malls at Christmas. These are lonely places. What are your lonely places?
    • Leadership can be a lonely place at times
    • Your walk home from.....
    • Your home - especially after someone has died or the kids have moved away or....
    • A sea of faces - crowded loneliness -
    • A hard or unpopular decision can represent a lonely place
    • Lying in bed at night with just your thoughts can be a lonely place
    • A season can be lonely - Christmas.
    • Transitions can be lonely times.
    • What is your loneliest time of the day or day of the week?

    Here is the interesting tension for Jeremiah. See if it is yours - turn to Jeremiah 15:15-17. Why is he alone? What has got him here, in this predicament?

    Jeremiah is lonely because this is exactly where God has allowed him to go. It’s exactly the place obedience would take him. In fact disobedience could have solved his loneliness problem. But remember Jeremiah 1:17-19? God told Jeremiah to get ready for the lonely road. You see the reason what’s inside matters is because God can use those experiences, and consequently, the feelings to do a deeper work in our hearts. We live in a culture that moves away from the negative - like loneliness- but perhaps for some, God is speaking and wanting us to grow because of it.

    Discuss this (from Bob Goff. Love Does.):

    The thing I love about God is He intentionally guides people into failure. He made us be born as little kids who can't walk or talk or even use a bathroom correctly. We have to be taught everything. All that learning takes time, and He made us so we are dependent on Him, our parents, and each other. The whole thing is designed so we try again and again until we finally get it right. And the whole time He is endlessly patient.

    God intentionally led Jeremiah into loneliness, a place of dependence and growth.
    So what’s your conversation with God like these days, as you have moved through a season of feeling alone? Perhaps that season has passed. Think back to what your conversations with God were like back then.
    What is He teaching you?
    What is inside matters. God might be saying - let me shape you through this!

    Anger and Hurt
    Ask an angry person who or what hurt them and they will probably have an answer. Hurt often lies behind our anger. Agree? Now note Jeremiah’s anger and hurt in Jeremiah 15:18a. Remember he is not talking about a physical wound but a wound to the soul - inside stuff!
    Note the direction of his anger:

    1. God (v.18b) A deceptive brook was like a mirage, one of those streambeds in the desert that looks as if water should be flowing in it but when you arrive at its banks, it’s dry. What he is saying is “God you have tricked me. You promised but you did not deliver.” - “God You over-promised and under-delivered.” Ever felt like that?

    Jeremiah has some more words for God. Read Jeremiah 20:7-10. A blunt but literal rendering of v7 is “First you seduced me, then you raped me.” This is what you call a “ tell me how you really feel prayer”- blunt, honest, no holding back!

    Eugene Peterson says “Believers argue with God; skeptics argue with each other.”

    2. People (v.18:18-23) This is another “tell me how you really feel” kind of prayer. Note it says they attacked him with their tongues. Quite the image. Tongues can do to the soul what a bullet can do to the flesh.

    Here is the question - Where did Jeremiah learn to talk like this with God? Who modeled this kind of deep soul language, honest, at times brutally honest. I would suggest that Jeremiah learned this from none other than the God he worshipped. The book of Jeremiah is filled with language that reveals the (at times, angry) heart of God.

    Discuss the following
    I think in some cases we have cleaned up the language of God, the strong emotion, and consequently weakened our perception of God. The emotion, this passion of God’s has been translated into sterile doctrinal statements, codified, predictable, and sanitary. Consequently our prayer language has not really touched into what is going on inside.

    What is interesting is that at the end of these confessionals who do we hear responding? Check out Jeremiah 12:5;15:19. God is engaged with Jeremiah. God responds to Jeremiah at a deep “soul wound” level because Jeremiah has prayed a “tell me how you really feel” kind of prayer. What’s inside matters! God uses the inside “stuff” to do a deeper work in Jeremiah’s heart.
    What is your “tell me how you really feel” prayer?
    What is He teaching you?
    Did you grow up in a context where honesty with God was encouraged?
    How do you draw the line of disrespecting God in prayer vs. being honest about what’s inside?

    What’s inside matters. Don’t ignore it! It can be the source of great growth!


    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Remembrance Day 2012

    Lest We Forget, Remembrance Day Service 2012
    A Canadian Soldier and Christian in Rwanda in 1994

    Our guest speaker, Major (Ret.) Brent Beardsley, was born & raised in Ottawa, Cobourg and Montreal. After completing university, he joined the Canadian Army and served across Canada and around the world until he retired from active service in 2009. In 1993-1994 he served as the personal staff officer to then Canadian General Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda, before and during the Rwandan genocide that engulfed that nation and ultimately claimed the lives of approximately 1 million people in 100 days. This past Sunday he gave a powerful presentation reflecting on his experience as a Christian Soldier in Rwanda during those terrible days.

    A recording of this presentation will be available here.

    The slideshow used during the presentation will be available here.

    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 187

    Jeremiah was a bullfrog? - Part 5
    What are you catching downstream?

    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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.

    When we lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, it always amazed us (when observing some of the locals) how someone could be upstream in a river relieving themselves, then a little further downstream, someone would be washing dishes, then a little further downstream the locals would be scooping up drinking water and swimming. We concluded that it must not be self-evident that what goes on upstream affects those downstream. How many would want to stand in the river downstream? What happens upstream can affect us downstream, can’t it?

    In political arenas, this principle is being discussed heatedly. Here’s how the discussion goes: “If we who are upstream (the older generation) do not curb our spending habits and bring greater accountability to our budgets, we are going to place a crippling debt in the laps of our children (downstream).” We have even seen how the younger generation is growing increasingly angry at inheriting such a heavy debt.

    If you are discussing this TB in a small group, take a few minutes to think of examples in life of this “upstream, downstream” principle.

    Big Idea: What happens upstream affects us downstream.

    Now before we jump into Jeremiah, check out Proverbs 20:7 as well as 2 Tim 1:5 and see how this principle can be a great blessing. How many of us would be able to identify some great blessings in our lives? Would you be able to connect that to your family line?

    Let’s check out this principle at work in our book of study, Jeremiah.

    Jeremiah 2:1-9
    Identify the upstream (previous generation) verses.
    Identify the downstream (current generation) verses.
    What words indicate that the current generation are guilty of the very same sins of the previous generation?
    Note what God says about “your children’s children.” V9b. God recognizes the strength of the current that will flow to future generations not even born yet.
    Have you ever had to draw a boundary and say, ”as for this generation, this behaviour (attitude, sin) stops here and now!”
    Do you think “kicking” a habit is harder when it is embedded in our generational DNA? If so why?

    Jeremiah 7:21-29
    Identify the upstream (previous generation) verses.
    Identify the downstream (current generation) verses.
    Note v.26 - they did more evil than their forefathers - in other words, it can get worse. Like a snowball, it starts off small, gets bigger the further it rolls down the generations. One writer says “We have observed a tendency toward escalation from generation to generation.” For instance, parents might be very nominal in their faith, cool even, and then the next generation is frozen solid.
    Ever seen this? Ever seen the opposite? What accounted for that?

    In light of this principle/big idea, how important is it, therefore, as a parent to deal with sin or just destructive habits?
    To make it clear - if I use the river as a place to relieve myself and then downstream my kids are using the same water source as drinking water, how healthy is that?

    My actions as a parent become even more important or significant when I understand this principle and take it to heart. I think this principle keeps us all humble and needing God’s grace.

    Some points to note:
    • This is a principle that can be applied to leadership as well. We are all leaders in some capacity, and those we lead “downstream” can and will catch the good, the bad and the ugly of our lives. This is why healthy leadership in organizations and churches is so important. What is flowing downstream from the leadership circles of your organization?

    • This principle also helps us understand why breaking free from some patterns, habits, or sins can be more difficult than others. If we have been immersed in something all our growing-up years, we may need to walk through some strong discipleship to find freedom. 

    • Nowhere in Jeremiah or elsewhere will you find a “the-devil-made-me-do-it” mentality. “I’m not responsible; I’m just a victim, because of my environment, my past.” No: each generation is responsible and accountable. On this note, let’s look at the next text.

    Lamentations 5:7 – Jeremiah is believed to have written this as a lament over the fallen state of Jerusalem.
    Notice the upstream-downstream principle

    Does this mean that I am guilty for my parent’s sin?
    Scripture is very clear- each one of us is responsible for his own sin (Ezekiel 18:20 - a contemporary of Jeremiah, I think they may have chatted once via email…)

    What does this mean? This current generation is exiled to Babylon, their city lies in ruins, and their national identity is shattered like a dropped plate. The present generation was not claiming to be suffering unjustly for their forebears’ sins (Lam. 5:16), but saw their punishment as a logical conclusion to their ancestors’ folly - their forefathers’ willing submission to godless nations was now bearing bitter fruit.

    You can bear the load, but not the guilt, of a previous generation. Just ask the exiles in Babylon that question.

    Can you identify the “Babylon” that some people wrestle with because of what went on in a previous generation?
    For example, some struggle with a severe sense of rejection - that is their Babylon. It’s not their sin, but a burden they carry because of a previous generation, i.e. a father or mother that did not love them.

    What I find interesting is that many, not all, but many of the issues we struggle with have an upstream connection, an upstream story line. But here is what we need to note, as we look way upstream we discover the genesis of this stream, Romans 5:12. Why did death come? Because all sinned. All are guilty. Sin has never skipped a generation - just read your history books. Just check out the current percentage chance of dying (100%!), which according to Scripture is the evidence of sin (missing the mark). This upstream-downstream reality has a profound impact on all of us: death - both physical and spiritual.

    But here is the good news - THE RIVER OF GOD - the righteous branch (Jer. 23:5) that Jeremiah spoke of - and Isaiah wrote about (Is. 53:4-6) - has come to forgive and heal. As we stand in His River, He heals us and forgives us. As we come before Christ, acknowledging our sin, He breaks the power of generational sin that flows from Adam. He makes it possible for us to walk in accordance with truth, and break free from generational patterns and postures that have come down to us from previous generations that are unhealthy. It can be a new day, and it can start with your generation.

    Do you stand in the river of God? Have you asked Christ to break the power of generational sin flowing like a river right into your DNA right from the time of Adam? What, as a Christ follower do you need to confess? Just because we are Christ followers does not mean the river is clean (1 John 1:9)

    As a parent, the importance of a godly walk cannot be overstated: is there anything you need to deal with? Do you need to go to a son or daughter and say “sorry!” You can impact the purity of the river’s current!

    Also as a friend/leader, our undealt-with sin can negatively impact those around us. Anything you need to deal with?
    What in your generational family river/tree are you thankful for? What in that river/tree do you need to draw a boundary around and get help on?


    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 186

    Jeremiah was a bullfrog? - Part 4
    Who Wears the Jacket?

    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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.

    [Hey, just before you jump into this TB, let me remind you that Ken Vissers (one of our International workers from Honduras) is with us today, Sunday, Oct. 28th. He will be meeting with people who may be interested in one of the missions trips this February or March, after both services.]

    You would no doubt agree that all of humanity has the ability to determine who is in or out, who belongs or should be gone. We develop this “sensor” from a very young age, and it can lead to school yard bullying even bullying in the office. In our text today, there is definitely one who doesn’t belong, someone who is an outsider. Yet we should be shocked that he doesn’t belong because he is in a place that should feel like home, a place that, in fact, should have a welcome mat out for him.

    Text: Jeremiah 20:1-6
    Who is on the outside in this story?
    On Sunday I used the analogy of my lumberjack jacket to illustrate who was “counterculture”. Who is counterculture, or who wears the jacket in this story?
    What in this story illustrates that Pashur is not acting alone?

    Pashur, in fact, is only the tip of the iceberg. He is the embodiment of a whole system that stinks. Read the following verses and see how systemic this corruption is in the prophets, priests and kings.
    Key verses: Jer. 2:26,27,
    Religious leaders – Jer. 14:14; 23:10,11,14,21
    Kings – Jer. 22:11-19

    Leadership, says Harvard’s Ron Heifetz, “...is the art of disappointing people at a rate they can stand.” The leadership of Judah was sprinting at a record pace. And in the midst of all this, there stands Jeremiah, wearing the jacket of counterculture, not fitting in, in fact speaking out against it.
    Has God ever called you to wear the jacket? Ever found yourself confronted with a system that stinks?

    Here is what I find interesting: Jeremiah finds himself in a place that many of us have found ourselves in. No, not in the role of prophet to a nation, but in a place where we see (or maybe have even been hurt by) predatory leadership, compromised role models, or corrupted systems. They may not have beaten you and put you in stocks, but their fall from grace, their compromise may have re-stocked or refueled your cynicism/pessimism towards leadership.

    If you are in a small group think about the following categories I referenced on Sunday and ask the question- Are there any leaders in these categories that stoke your cynicism towards leadership?
    Business - think of what is being unveiled in Quebec these days.
    Sports - one word – Armstrong.
    Church - I am sure you can think of a few religious leaders who have stoked your cynicism.

    Ever found yourself in the green, yellow or red zone? Bet you have!

    So what do we do? We just become a cynic, red zoned! Is that a healthy place to live? The story reminds us that people/leaders will fail us - prophets, priest, kings, athletes, politicians, business people, and religious leaders. But there is something Jeremiah knew, that there would come a Leader who would be worthy of our trust and worship. Who would likewise stand in the temple and not belong, would be seen as an outsider, a threat to the establishment. Jeremiah said of this leader in v.23:5. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” While other leaders and people we look up to have feet of clay, this leader would excel where so many had failed. This leader would be a prophet, priest and King all wrapped up in one and He too would wear the jacket of counterculture. He would not end up beaten and in stocks but beaten and on a cross and rise again!
    Prophet- Matt 21:10,11, Priest- Heb 10:11,12, King- John 12:12-15

    Big Idea: Jesus wears the jacket (the jacket represents being counterculture and not fitting in). swimming upstream in a downstream world. In a world of fallen leaders, broken systems, Jesus stands wearing the jacket, worthy of our trust. Some of us may have gone through or be in a season where it feels like Jesus is the only credible leader in your life.
    Ever gone through that?
    What do you say to that person?

    Let me give you one example of how counterculture Jesus was and why He is worthy of our love and worship.

    He told the truth, was the Truth and He lived out the truth, in contrast to the leaders of Jeremiah’s day and many in Jesus’ day. Check out John1:14, 8:32, 14:6,16:12 17:17 8:32

    The truth He spoke would radically challenge our perception of who is in or out. It was truth that would make many people miserable before it would make them free.

    Yale philosopher Nicholas Wolterstoff observes that throughout world history, human beings by nature tend to be tribal. We don’t think of “outsiders” as having the same worth and rights. What counts for the emergence of this moral subculture that says every human being has rights?
    His answer- the teaching of the Scriptures, which clarified and made available to all the world through Jesus that every human being is made in the image of God and loved by God. (Resource: John Ortberg, Who is this man?)
    The idea of equality was not self evident to the ancient world.
    There are gradations of talent, intelligence and beauty, Martin Luther King Jr said, but “there are no gradations of the image of God.”
    Jesus wears the jacket. He stood counterculture to the prophets, priests and kings of Jeremiah’s day and His day.

    Celsus, one of the early critics of Christianity, said that all they could draw to themselves were “stupid, ignorant, weak people.” Slaves, women, and children. He was concerned that the way of the “hero”, the excellence and greatness that had taken centuries to emerge would be lost. (Ortberg, p.83)

    Why is this good news? Because some of us are so aware of our sin, our brokenness and our hypocrisy, that we are afraid to come to Christ. But you can be assured this prophet, priest and king who wears the jacket will not oppress the hard-pressed, or exploit our weaknesses but will instead embrace us as we come to Him in repentance and faith. Jesus said (John 8:32) “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus is that Truth! Life-giving, hope-filled Truth!

    Finally, every culture, every generation has leaders that fail us, priest and pastors that disappoint, artists that mislead, politicians and business people that are predatory, distractions that will tempt you and me to fall into the dark waters of cynicism, pessimism and the toxins that go along with that. You may even have been put in stocks of some kind. My advice? Keep your eyes on Christ! For Jeremiah’s prophetic words have been fulfilled.
    Jer. 23:5. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

    How does one keep their eyes on Christ in a day and age where leadership in many spheres of life seems so compromised? How does keeping our eyes on Christ guard our hearts from being toxic?


    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 185

    Jeremiah was a bullfrog? - Part 3
    Burn Baby Burn!

    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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.

    [Hey, just before you jump into this TB, let me remind you that Ken Vissers (one of our International workers from Honduras) will be with us on Sunday, Oct. 28th. He will be meeting with people that may be interested in one of the missions trips this February or March, after both services. Mark your calendar!]

    Ever been guilty of letting the word of God “go to pot”? Read Jeremiah 36 and especially note v.20-26 - Jehoiakim had been King in Judah for about 5 years when Jeremiah emailed him the scroll of his prophesies. The news was not good - Jehoiakim did not like what he read so he burned it in a firepot in his winter apartment.

    As a group or on your own read the entire chapter to get the context of what is going on. On Sunday we had said that Babylon (under Nebuchadnezzar) was threatening Judah… they were hot on their trail. In addition to the outside threat, Jehoiakim had to deal with this text that was declaring Judah would go into captivity because they were unrepentant.

    As you read this story in the larger context see the contrasts that the writer wants us to see.
    Read chapter 35 and note the contrast between the Rechabites and Judah.
    Read 2 Kings 22:11 (about Josiah discovering the word of the Lord 17 years earlier) and compare with Jeremiah 36:24
    Read Daniel 1:1-6 and note the contrast of Daniel, a man who honored the word, and Jehoiakim his ex-king.
    Read Daniel 2:46-47 and note that after a series of experiences even Nebuchadnezzar, Jehoiakim’s captor, surrenders to God and His word.

    These are interesting contrasts that show even more clearly how hard Jehoiakim’s heart was.

    What is the application for us today?
    Here is the big idea I took away from this text on Sunday - Don’t let God’s Word go to pot!

    Here is the question that I think we need to ask as we reflect on this story. What text(s) am I burning?... What is in my firepot these days?... Are we really that much different than Jehoiakim in his winter apartment?... Do we have a tendency to burn, alter, or deny the authority of the word of God?... Mad because we think it is wrong?... Mad because it’s actually right? If we were to look into the firepot what text might be sitting there smoldering?

    Today, how do we “burn” the text in our response to it?
    Sometimes we just outright disagree. There might be the same anger and obstinacy as with Jehoiakim - burn baby burn! Ever gone through a season where you were clearly angry at God’s word and refused to obey it? How did that get resolved?

    Perhaps our “burning” is more subtle - we selectively read the text. It is a friendly bonfire around the firepot. We have other firepot owners that, along with roasting marshmallows, burn various texts. We say to ourselves that we are smarter than the word of God; that we are more sophisticated, more learned. We find others like us who subtly celebrate smoldering texts in the firepot.

    We have replaced the old camp song- “It only takes a spark to get a fire burning” with “It only takes a spark to get a text burning….and soon all those around will warm up to its glowing…”

    Take some time to ask the question, “which texts am I burning?” Our refusal to walk in the word is the modern-day equivalent of burning. You can read through the texts we read on Sunday and see if any of these have burnt edges.
    1 Cor 6:18-20, Matthew 7:1-5, Hebrews 10:24,25, Psalm 1:1-3, Eph 5:18, Col 3:9, Phil 4:8, Matthew 6:25-27.

    The final point to consider is found in how this chapter ends (read 36:27-32). The fact is that we can reject the word of God, but that doesn’t change the facts. You can burn the Scripture but you cannot destroy the word of God. You can deny gravity all you want but next time you jump get ready for a big smack down! Truth is truth!

    Yemelian Yaroslavsky said” Christianity is like a nail, the harder you strike it the deeper it goes.” No amount of denial, burning, or editing will change God’s truth.

    I want to encourage you to study God’s word and below you’ll find a great tool to help you with this. I encourage you to take time each day to invest in God’s word. Why, you might ask? Because along with the other 65 books of the Bible, God’s word was designed to help shipwrecked people find their way home.

    Don’t burn it, live by it!

    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com


    S for Scripture
    Select the book of the bible that you might want to start reading. Take time reading and allow God to speak to you. When you are done, look for a verse that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal.

    O for Observation
    What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words, in your journal.

    A for Application
    Personalize what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this scripture can apply to you today.

    P for Prayer
    This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Remember, prayer is a two way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Now, write it out.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 184

    Jeremiah was a bullfrog? - Part 2
    Full House, Empty Hearts!

    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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.

    [Hey, just before you jump into this TB, let me remind you that Ken Vissers (one of our International workers from Honduras) will be with us on Sunday, Oct. 28th. He will be meeting with people that may be interested in one of the missions trips this February or March, after both services. Mark your calendar!]

    Ever tried to gauge someone’s heart health? Not their physical heart, but that part of a person which is the “inner” person, comprised of our thoughts, affections and attitudes. Our story resides in our hearts. Our deepest thoughts, wounds and dreams, reside in our hearts. Sometimes we pull the curtains over our hearts closed, and at other times we pull them wide open for people to see in.

    On Sunday we discovered that a whole nation, Judah, had a bad heart. Manasseh had been King of Judah for 55 years. 2 Kings 21:9 sums up the damage that he did - “Manasseh led Judah astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.” That is bad, real bad! But then Josiah became King, and upon discovering the book of the Law (believed to be Deuteronomy), he tore his robes in repentance and brought drastic reforms (see 2 Kings 22, 23). This is the first instalment of Extreme Make Over. From head to toe, Josiah swept the nation clean.

    But here is the problem - we come to Jeremiah 7 (Josiah ruled for 31 years and is now dead) and after all the reforms, we now stand in the same temple that Josiah stood in as be brought reforms, and what do we discover?

    Text: Jeremiah 7:1-15 (read)
    We discover that these sweeping reforms did not go deep enough. So much revelation… so little reformation! Lots of external posturing, very little internal processing! Lots of makeup that was just really a cover-up! Josiah’s sweeping reforms had failed to sweep into the hearts of the people and they had normalized abnormal. They had gotten used to a dysfunctional kind of spirituality where they said the right things and did the right things but their hearts were sick, very sick. Jeremiah 12:2 sums it up - ”You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. So God was using Jeremiah to call them on it.

    BIG IDEA: When we normalize abnormal, eventually God calls us on it.


    When we normalize abnormal, we “dumb down” the experience of gathering (v.1-2)

    This is a toxic scene. These people are coming and going, standing in the temple, and following Mosaic instructions on worship and sacrifice. But instead of a gathering experience which brings repentance, holiness, contrition and worship, it is just a “lip service”. Lips are flapping, but hearts are snoring. Thus Jeremiah’s plea - “reform your ways.” Check out what God thinks of these pretenders (v. 2:13, 4:22, 5:1,23, 6:15,16). They have normalized abnormal!
    Do you think we are guilty of “dumbing down” our gathering experiences?

    What are some examples?
    • We may gather for prayer, but we go through the motions and our hearts are cold.
    • We gather for worship through music but it becomes entertainment, not connecting with the words, not asking God to speak to us
    • We gather for teaching, but it is turned into therapy… a better me
    • Bible study becomes a weird exercise of saying the right things but being untouched by the Word. Like jumping into a pool without getting wet
    • Accountability becomes deceptive and coy
    • Ministry becomes a “task” instead of being servant-leadership

    Sometimes when we think of rebellion or someone rejecting the faith, we think of people that leave the church, walk away from God, and have nothing to do with other Christ followers. But Jer. 7 demonstrates that we can walk away from the faith but still walk right into the community, the church. We’re physically there… but miles away from the heart of God.

    Why not pause as a small group and pray that when Bethel gathers (small groups, Sundays etc) that true life change would be taking place.

    We believe lies to accommodate our foolishness (v.3-15)

    Notice what they are relying on. V.4 and 8 show where their trust is placed - WORDS, DECEPTIVE WORDS.
    They believed judgment would not come because in Jerusalem was located the temple of the LORD (repeated three times to emphasize their belief in its protecting power). The people of Judah viewed the temple as a talisman or a good-luck charm that could ward off any attack. The lie they had believed was that, by being in a place and doing and saying the right things, everything would be ok.

    They are in fact hiding behind the lie. It’s easier to mouth this mantra than it is to get on their knees and do the hard work of dealing with their hearts. Their lies enabled them to normalize abnormal. You know what God calls that? BS - Bad Strategy! :-) It didn’t work for Shiloh (see v.12-15). God doesn’t get tricked by their BS… or our BS.

    What are lies we often tell ourselves or others to avoid the hard work of dealing with our hearts?
    • “I’ll do it tomorrow”, when in fact tomorrow never comes and we never do it!
    • “I have done all I can”, when in fact we haven’t even started
    • “I never said that” when in fact we did, but believing the lie, and getting others to believe it gets us off the hook of doing the hard work of repenting
    Remember this lie from the 90’s by a guy by the name of Clinton? “I did not have sexual relations with that woman...” Now there’s a load of... Bad Strategy!

    To normalize abnormal we often cozy up beside some deceptive words.

    Why not pause here and pray that our lies would be exposed and our hearts transformed, because we eventually get burned by our lies.

    We justify the unthinkable v3-15

    This point is a no-brainer... if we are going to dumb down our faith and then use lies to detour our hearts then the obvious result is justifying the unthinkable. It’s kind of like… if I am going to eat chips every night and sit and watch TV all the time… then I am going to get fat.

    What can we do? What is our response?
    1. We can start by praying for the church. Note Jeremiah is not talking about the world, he is talking about people who are supposed to be the people of God.
    2. Be a Jeremiah - “stand at the gate”- maybe your family, your roommate, your small group, your... Go ahead - call a spade a spade. But as Peter admonishes us, do it ‘with gentleness and with respect.’
    3. Ask yourself the hard questions: Where have I normalized abnormal? Have I dumbed-down aspects of my faith walk? Have I used lies to avoid dealing with my heart? Am I guilty of the unthinkable?

    Approximately 600 years after Jeremiah stood at the temple gate, Jesus would stand in the rebuilt temple calling people to reform their ways. They had turned the temple into a Wal-Mart! Is Jesus calling us now to reform our ways?

    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Touching Base! Part 183

    Elders' Update

    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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 attend Bethel, then it is important that you know what the Elders’ Board is prioritizing these days. Here are some of our focus areas.


    This year, the Elders’ team consists of Steve Dickey (chair) Doug Brown (secretary) Roy Chan, Ron Dickey, Ewen Mackenzie, Eric Prost and me. As we move into the fall we are focusing our meetings around the question, “how do we make disciples?” Our priority is to make sure that, as people participate in the life of Bethel Church, they either come to faith and/or grow in that faith. Jesus made it pretty clear that disciple-making is the “what”, but the “how” can present some pretty interesting challenges - how do we measure spiritual growth? How do we know if someone who is part of the church is moving along in the right spiritual direction? Do we have the right tools in place? Where are our biggest gaps?

    As a board we realize that this is one question for which Jesus will hold us accountable. It was clear in His commission, and so it needs to be prioritized in our mission. If you come to Bethel, you should care about this issue as well.

    So as a board we will be studying this issue prayerfully and inviting others to join us as we think through the issues and execute a plan that will complement the Vision Pathway that we have already developed.


    Some of you have heard me say that “partnerships extend the reach of the church”. That’s not original with me, by the way. I actually got it from Jamie Stinson… who got it from.... (there’s nothing new under the sun, right?) We certainly are experiencing the truth of that statement as we deepen and mature our existing partnerships. With respect to the City, one of our key partnerships is with the Salvation Army. On a national level, we partner with Constance Lake, and on a World level we partner with Honduras.

    This fall, all the chair people of our partnerships will be meeting together to discuss the health and progress that our partnerships are making. As a board, it is not our desire to micro-manage these partnerships, but to monitor and prayerfully support these key relationships.


    We are very excited about looking into the possibilities of birthing a third service. If you have been around Bethel long enough, you will know that we experience “the bounce” - we hit the ceiling of growth then bounce down a bit then bounce back up. This is typical in church scenarios where the church is 80%-or-more filled each Sunday. Again, the board is not micro-managing this but is allowing me to pull together a team that will investigate the “how, when and where” of this issue. If you are interested in this issue please talk to me.


    Finally, a key area of focus is the stewardship issue. We continue to prayerfully look for a treasurer to handle a growing budget. We also realize that the days of just updating the church on our finances by posting it in our bulletin and… voilà! The money appears… are over. As we continue to push forward on the vision, our finances need to keep pace or we will find ourselves bogged down by a lack of resources.

    We have realised that many give generously, while others, for whatever reason, are not as faithful in this area. For the church to go forward this stewardship issue must be addressed. So our game plan is to put together a finance team that will be able to look at systemic issues regarding giving at Bethel and put a long-term plan in place to help our people be good stewards of their cash resources.

    So in closing let me list some other things that are going on at Bethel:
    • We have two new interns this fall, Tom Desloges and Joe Popma. Tom will be working with Fred in youth ministry. Joe will be working with me in the areas of discipleship and the third service.
    • Our Adopt-a-Student Ministry that is headed up by Fred Grendel has 56 students registered in it this year! We are grateful for the many “parents” who have gotten involved in this program. It can be a great encouragement to our students.
    • We had 56 (yes, a popular number) out to our Leadership Community event on Sept 23. At this event we looked at the values that define the kind of culture we are attempting to shape at Bethel. Our values are Teamwork, Excellence, Authenticity, Relevance and Solidarity
    • Bill Duffy continues to be part of our staff. Bill is a senior who has never learned the word “retire”! I am personally grateful for that. Please don’t let him know the word exists. He continues to make contacts in the church, visit, and help people connect into Bethel.
    • Our Ellel partnership continues to grow. There were around 90 in attendance for the September module, whose theme was on “fear”.
    • Pray for the staff as we head off for the two-day Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Oct 18-19th, in Ottawa. This is an event I have been attending for about 15 years and is one of the best conferences on the best practices of leadership.
    • We have about 16 small groups running this fall. That means we have room for about 200 people in small groups. If you are interested in going to the next level in community please contact me at markkotchapaw@gmail.com

    I encourage you to continue to contribute to the team. Great churches are, first and foremost, Christ-centered, Biblically-rooted, and Spirit-empowered. Great churches are also filled with people that understand that it takes a team, not a solo leader, to build a dynamic church. For God’s sake be part of the team, and let’s see Bethel continue to move in a direction that builds His kingdom!

    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 182

    Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog?

    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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.

    Dangerously Over-Challenged



    As a group, or in personal reflection, use the above chart to plot out where you are at these days. What is it about your life that has you pegged where you are? What can you do to change or improve your situation? Who is helping you on your journey these days?

    There are a number of reasons why we can end up in the “dangerously over-challenged” section. One reason is because of the Word of God.

    On Sunday, as we started our series in Jeremiah, we looked at the idea that The Word of God Will Challenge and Change Our World! In other words, how it speaks into our lives can, at times, make us feel that we are way in over our head - we’re not sure if we can do what God’s word is asking of us or if we can become what God’s word is wanting to shape us into. Remember Jesus’ prayer- “sanctify them by Your truth”!

    We looked at three ways this was happening in Jeremiah’s life. When God said to Jeremiah, “Get yourself ready”, He wasn’t kidding! (v.17)

    Text: Jeremiah 1

    Get yourself ready because the Word of God will call you to go off-road (v. 1-5)

    Read v. 1-4 - What do you note about the context of Jeremiah’s life?
    Note in particular the road he is on - he was born into a priestly family, a well-worn path. He knows what to expect since he has seen his dad and grandfather be priests. His whole life, he’s been mentored, molded, shaped and prepared for being a priest. The language of the priesthood is common. But then the word of God comes and says – “Get yourself ready….!” He is only 20 years old and things are about to change.
    What was God calling him to become?
    Read the chapter and note what this new role would entail.

    Like Jeremiah, God’s Word still call us out today and say “Get yourself ready!” (Note 2 Tim. 3:16,17) Note how the Word of God can challenge. Talk about how that has happened in your life. Have you ever felt dangerously over-challenged?

    The Word of God is not a “stand still” book but a “get yourself ready” book. It’s like getting on to an escalator - you don’t get on it to stay where you are, but because you’re going somewhere! Likewise with the Word of God - you don’t open it up to stay where you are but to go somewhere. Are you willing?

    Get yourself ready because the word of God will call you out from behind familiar fences (v.6-10)

    Note the excuse Jeremiah comes up with so he won’t have to move. I call these excuses “fences” that often hem people in, and keep them from stepping out. Fear is certainly a big one, can you think of others? What is your most common response to God’s Word when you feel that it is calling you to overly-challenging areas? The sad truth is that some people have stopped growing because their “fence” has limited their growth.

    Note what God does for Jeremiah: He reassures him that the word of God will be fulfilled and that Jeremiah does not need to allow fear to hem him in. Instead his faith in the certainty of God’s word should lead him onward. In v.11, God draws Jeremiah’s attention to the almond tree. They were famous for their white and snowy blossoms that would appear earlier than most other blossoms in the spring. When you saw the blossoms you knew that there was more to come. The blossoms built anticipation for the change of seasons. Likewise, the word of God is like the blossoms that build anticipation that God will act, that more is to come, that a new season is on its way and God is watching over it all to make sure it will happen just as He says.

    Get yourself ready because the word of God will set you apart from your culture (v.13-19)

    Scan the chapter and find phrases that make it pretty clear that Jeremiah is not going to fit in that well with his culture any more. On Sunday, I gave some texts illustrating that in the New Testament God’s Word is still calling us to engage in culture, but not blend in. What New Testament texts can you come up with?

    For some, this is the most difficult area to be challenged in because we value acceptance more than anything else. We want to be loved, accepted, not disagreeing with those around us. At times we find it very hard to speak up and say we don’t agree, or that what someone is doing is wrong. If Jeremiah valued acceptance more than God and His Word, he would never have gone to the places God was calling him.

    Are you embracing God’s Word?
    Are you opening it and reading it and being challenged and changed?
    God says to Jeremiah, “Get yourself ready!” God still says to us today, “Get yourself ready!”

    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 181


    (You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

    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.

    Today is the last part of our three-part series on City, Nation and World! The reason we have done this series is so that people both understand the vision and engage with it. We want to be very clear that it is impossible to burn passionately for every part of the vision, but it is very possible to be passionate about aspects of the vision and support the entire vision. If we try to be passionate about every part, involved in every part, we may find we burn out. So prayerfully seek God on what He would have you do, and how He might have you go, get involved, give and pray.

    On Sunday we looked at God’s heart for the world. Be Incredible In The World! Now that may be easier said than done. There are many Christ followers whose focus is very much on themselves. We could call these people cats. When you pet a cat they think, “You pet me, feed me, shelter me, I must be god!” They are in to “meowology” and anything else that would prop their needs up as being central to everyone else’s agenda. However, thank God there are dogs. In fact it may not sound complimentary but there are many Christians who are like dogs. You pet a dog and they think, “You pet me, feed me, shelter me, you must be god!” These kinds of Christ followers are not the center of the universe but God is, and so they are very much interested in what God is passionate about. Well, guess what? He is passionate about the world.

    Now before we move on think about cat theology and dog theology. What are the differences? How would a cat church look different than a dog church? If a cat was looking for a new church what might they be looking for? If a dog was looking for a new church what might they be looking for?

    Ok, let’s move on. Dogs want to know the heart of God, and as they investigate they discover that God has a heart for the nations. Check out the texts.

    Genesis 12:1-3 - Where does the blessing flow? Cats can get stuck on the part that says God wants to bless us. They can sometimes forget that we are blessed to be a blessing.

    Exodus 19:6 - Note that Israel had two priesthoods. The Levites were the priests to the nation of Israel, yet Israel were a kingdom of priests to who? Check out Isaiah 49:6 and Malachi 1:11. Got any ideas? How does this influence or shape your understanding of God choosing Israel to be His treasured possession? See also Ex. 19:5.

    You will note as you read the Old Testament that it predicts the coming of Jesus, and in the New Testament, Jesus is presented. What do the words of Simeon tell us about this priest? See Luke 2:28,29. Answer: He is an international priest, a priest to all the nations. Note Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19,20.

    Dogs note with delight (cats like to ignore this) that the Scriptures reveal that it is all about the glory of God, not man. He is the ultimate satisfaction, but more importantly, He satisfies what justice demands for our sin, a Saviour! Read the following verses on the glory of God.: 1Chronicles 16:24, Psalm 67:1,2, 2 Kings 19:17-19, Isaiah 61:11, Revelation 5:9-10

    After reading these verses reflect on these questions:
    Do you think the consumerism in the church flies in the face of the glory of God? - Meowology
    Do you think if we made it less about ourselves and more about God’s glory the church would be stronger?
    I wonder if, in the current challenges we are facing, we might move a little closer to resolving them if it was more about the glory of God, not the glory of me?

    God desires for us to Be Incredible In The World, because He has a heart for the nations. From Genesis to Revelation, we see God’s international heart.

    How can you, your small group be involved in global issues with a focus on spiritual and physical needs?

    Would you consider getting involved in the Honduras focus this year at Bethel? Check out the brochure that was in the bulletins on Sunday.

    Next time you watch or listen to the news, pray for the global issues that are constantly being piped into our air space. Pray that God would be glorified!

    Welcome to the dog pound!


    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 179

    Jeremiah 29

    (This article can also we found on our website
    at http://www.bethelkingston.com 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.

    “Responding to the Heart of God;
    Transforming the Heart of the City, the Nation and the World.”
    Bethel’s Vision Statement

    Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion, writes,
    “Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear, and brutality of life in the urban Greco- Roman world… Christianity revitalized life in… cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homelessness and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments… To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities face with epidemics, fires and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective…services.” The Rise of Christianity (New York: Harper, 1997, page 161)

    At Bethel our heart for the city is encouraged by realizing the role the church has played in the past in ministering to major city centers. However, the ultimate model and inspiration is rooted in understanding the life and message of Jesus. His heart as He walked the face of the earth was the heart of God seen in the flesh - a heart that loves people, reaches out to the least likely, empowers the few to transform the many, and invests in the overlooked to achieve great kingdom purposes. Cities matter to God because cities are made up of people. It is as simple as that!

    In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah called the people of Judah who were exiled to Babylon to not neglect the city or leech off its resources but to be Incredible In The City! Note the three ways we can be incredible in the city that we highlighted on Sunday:

    Be incredible in the city by contributing to its economic vitality (v.5).

    The backdrop of this statement is that the Babylonians are hoping that they Jews will just be absorbed into the community and lose their distinctiveness. The false prophets of the Judah are telling the Jews that they will soon depart Babylon, so don’t invest. Just live off the city but don’t invest. Jeremiah, God’s spokesperson, tells them to invest, engage and plant roots. Move out of your bubble and get engaged.

    Jesus models this when, in John 3:16, we are told that that because of love, God gave, engaged and built for Himself a house (so to speak) an earthly, fleshly dwelling to be with the people. “Emanuel” means “God with us”.

    On Sunday we talked about how it is easy to live in a bubble - the Queen’s bubble, church bubble etc. Can you name some bubbles that are easy to live in and consequently ignore the city? What are symptoms (“bubblitis”) that can accompany bubble dwellers? Some answers I gave on Sunday were arrogance, indifference, misunderstanding, apathy, self-focus, simplistic answers to complex problems.

    Be incredible in the city by contributing to its social vitality (v.6).

    Certainly the admonition to raise families was to keep the family line intact. However, one of the spin-offs of building strong families is social vitality. You may ask, “How so?”

    Well think about the answers to these questions.
    • Do you believe that healthy family units can contribute to the overall health of a city?
    • Do you think a mom and dad who love each other, not only benefits the children but might also spill over beyond the immediate family?
    • Do you think healthy family units might improve a kid’s self-esteem, school performance, freedom from addictions?
    • Do you think there is any connection between a grown adult’s mental health and the type of family they were raised in?

    This text is not saying everyone needs to get married or that divorced families cannot be redeemed and result in great good. But there is a social implication stated in these verses. I believe very strongly that building strong families in the city is one way to be proactive in building healthy people that, in turn, bless the city.

    Jesus modeled a priority of children in his ministry. Some may have said there were bigger and better things to do with one’s time, but Jesus valued children. He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt 19:14)

    Ever thought of investing in family ministries in the city? Why not mentor a child whose father is out of the picture? How about investing in a single mom who might be finding it hard to make ends meet and stay emotionally healthy? The demands can be great. This is one of the reasons why we partner with the Salvation Army. Don’t hesitate to ask Jamie Stinson our Family Director on how you can get involved. (rstinson2@cogeco.ca)

    Be incredible in the city by contributing to its spiritual vitality (v.7).

    Interesting, isn’t it that the Jews were to pray for the peace of the city? No doubt there can be all kinds of issues that disturb the peace. As Christ followers we pray that one means of peace would come through understanding the full plan of God in Christ to make people right with God - peace with God.

    C.S. Lewis, literary critic and professor of medieval and renaissance literature for 29 years at
    Magdalene College at Oxford, wrote, “The salvation of a single soul is more important than the preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world.” While it is important to make good culture and redeem social ill, sharing the redemptive, saving message of Jesus Christ is of utmost importance. Even the great literary critic C.S. Lewis saw the soul as more important than culture.

    The Hebrew word translated “prosper” means to be healthy, to increase, to have things go well. It means growth in all its dimensions. One form of prosperity is not just material, but finding meaning, significance and belonging. Many know financial prosperity but are stricken with meaninglessness. Other forms of prosperity that we might not think about is for a city to prosper in justice, compassion, integrity, honesty, and equality. Can you identify other ways for a city to prosper?

    In what specific ways can you and your group seek to serve and love Kingston? What can you and your group do to become genuinely interested in its peace and prosperity?

    Cities matter to God because people matter to God. Does the city matter to you?


    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Touching Base! Part 180

    Psalm 24

    (This article can also we found on our website
    at http://www.bethelkingston.com 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.

    In our service today, the big idea was “Be Incredible in the Nation”. Our vision at Bethel is to be “Responding to the Heart of God; Transforming the Heart of the City, the Nation and the World”. Our national focus is Constance Lake First Nation. In order to “be incredible in the nation”, we have to do two things well:

    1. Know and understand the issues:

    To gain further understanding of our First Nations people, consider visiting these websites:

    2. Get engaged and make things better:

    There are 3 things that you can do to engage and make things better: Give, Go and Pray.

    Give: More information will be coming in October as to how you can give to Operation Constance Lake (shoeboxes).

    Go: Would you like to go and minister at CL? If you’re in grades 9 to 12, consider March Break 2013. If you’re not, consider going during the summer of 2013.

    Pray: There are a number of ways you can pray into these issues:

    A. Spiritual bondage: that it would be broken, and that the King of Glory would become the centre focus of CLFN

    B. Salvation: to the best of our knowledge, there were no “first-time salvations” during our summer trip, although the gospel was presented to the children in a very creative and relevant manner. Pray for seeds to grow. Bibles were handed out as well - pray that they are read.

    C. Education: hat the children would become engaged in their education and attend school each day

    D. Health concerns: teen pregnancies, Type 2 Diabetes and head lice are some major concerns

    E. For peace: in homes that are sometimes filled with fear

    F. Bethel's partnership with CLFN: to grow, flourish and really begin to transform CL.

    G. Drug addictions: many 12-year-olds will admit to smoking pot. As well, the Principal of the school, Zandra, and Patty and her son Theo speak of an issue with over-prescription of certain drugs. Pray for medical integrity, wisdom, truth and justice to reign. This is especially importance as CLFN is 6 km north of the Trans-Canada Highway and 44 km from Hearst, which is described at the Drug Capital of Northern Ontario.

    H. The need for long-term on-site missions and workers: Bethel Toronto Church (yes they too are called Bethel!) and Café Church have also sent teams to CLFN. In fact Bethel Toronto has been sending teams for 14 summers! All three churches agree that there is a need for long-term full-time workers to go to Constance Lake and be integrated into the community. Pray for workers to be called and sent.

    I. The local church: Bethel Toronto and Café Church enjoyed meeting with the Anglican Church and Bethel Kingston enjoyed meeting with the Full Gospel Church. There seem to be Christ followers in these churches that just need more encouragement.

    J. Local leadership: Pray for Chief Roger and for his council.

    Thank you for being an incredible in the nation! We are open to answering your questions and concerns. Feel free to email fred@kingston.net


    If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com