The cost of true discipleship. ~ Pastor Gary

In the late 90’s movie The Truman Show, the protagonist Truman Burbank comes to discover that the life he thought he was living of his own volition was an elaborate lie. In truth, he was the unwitting main character in a kind of “reality” tv docudrama which followed Truman’s life from birth forward. The only reality he truly experienced was the image he saw in the mirror. The movie explores some interesting themes from personal identity to broad social values and constructs. It resonated with a culture that strains itself in both rejecting truth but longing for authentic existence. Truman ultimately learns the truth of his life and finds freedom as he escapes the production set that had represented his life – presumably to become a True-man. As humans we have an immense capacity to deceive ourselves or be deceived. One key theme throughout our Sunday morning study of Galatians has been freedom. As we have considered before, Western culture tends to define freedom as personal autonomy – control over one’s thoughts, actions, beliefs; in short the “freedom” to make choices according to one’s own conscience. This Sunday we are taking a little break from Galatians as our text will be John 8:31-38, which contains the oft-quoted: “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)” In our text we will see Jesus challenge human notions of freedom and exhort his followers toward true discipleship. For example, the crowd following Jesus can’t see their need to become free for: “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.” The obvious irony...

Celebrating Weakness at the AGM ~ Pastor Andrew

When you think about the mission of the local church, what comes to mind? For some people, they think of activities and programs. We run a PA Day VBS that has been very popular these past 5 years. We host our community for Canada Day celebrations. Other people think of social action. As a church, we support Ark Aid as we serve those who need a safe place and a warm meal. Several of us volunteer at New Life Prison Ministries by being in contact with those incarcerated. We collect new clothing items for the Women’s Resource Centre. But when I think of the mission of the local church, it isn’t programs or action that comes to mind. It is amazement that we are able to minister at all. Recently I was praying for our leaders and families in our church – elders, ministry leaders, staff – and I was struck by the amount of suffering, hardship, and difficulty almost every single leader was facing. It was overwhelming to think of how weak we really are. Whether it was health issues or family dynamics, discouragement or difficulty, I couldn’t help but be overcome by amazement that the mission of the local church goes forward. We are so weak. I am so weak. Many times I have viewed the mission moving forward with strength and power. And it does. But not the kind of power I’ve assumed. I am more convinced that the mission moves forward by God’s power being on display in our weakness. The great missionary-apostle Paul had experienced great ecstasy and spiritual power (2 Cor. 12:1-7a) but...

Stand firm in your freedom ~ Pastor Gary

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 Are you a list-maker like me? That is to say do you start your day making a list of tasks for the day ahead? I find it a helpful way to prioritize and organize my day, and I enjoy a sense of accomplishment as I cross things off one by one. These sorts of lists, I believe, are helpful ways for me to be a good steward of each day God gives me. However, there are other sorts of lists that are more troublesome and we all have a tendency to make them; lists, real or imagined, that itemize what we feel we must do to earn favour with God. By now in our Sunday morning study of Galatians I hope as we read Paul’s words from Galatians 5:1 that “Christ has set us free” we have a sense of from what Christ has set us free. Primarily, we have been set free from law-keeping to earn God’s favour. We all tend to gravitate toward the belief that if we do the right things God owes us. We earn his favour by checking items off from a list: right behaviour, spiritual disciplines such as reading his Word or prayer, evangelism, giving, or in the case of the Galatians extra things God does not ask of us. Paul calls this mindset of rule-keeping turning back to the law, or even more pointedly “submitting again to a yoke of slavery.” So many of the things on such lists are good things, what could be wrong in wanting to do them? Well, it is about our...