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

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