The Journey of Discipleship ~ Pastor Gary

My oldest son has recently purchased a property in the Muskokas just outside the town of Bala. This was particularly exciting for me because I spent 10 days of every summer at a scout camp mere kilometers away along the Moon River. This past holiday weekend we spent some time at the new place helping to ready it for vacation rentals. Naturally, I also wanted to reconnect with my scouting past by checking out the old campground. The road into the camp was notoriously difficult: generally single car width, sharp twists and turns, spots where you easily bottom out, and both rocks and potholes (come to think of it those should have worked together nicely); in short a journey in itself to be taken with great care and consideration. Unfortunately, I could not find my way to the camp! I subsequently found out that the road in has been drastically reworked and relocated, thus without a map it is very difficult to find. I was thinking of this in relation to our discipleship as Christians and how well we know where God is taking us and how he plans to get us there. Do you know the Christian life has an objective? God’s plan is to form Christ in us (Gal 4:19), we are predestined to bear his image (Romans 8:29). If that is where we are heading how do we get there? Is there a roadmap? Like a treacherous camp road, life seems full of difficult twists and turns; is there a way God has for us? The answer is yes and it is called discipleship, or in...

Supernatural Bible Reading – Pastor Andrew

What is the sense that you have when you open up the Bible? Does it feel like a duty or more like a delight? Is it a habit that you’ve developed over years or an occasional, spur of the moment decision? Does it feel like the words of an old, faithful friend being spoken to your soul or a complex book from an ancient world?   The Bible is a remarkable book – it is deep enough for an elephant to swim yet shallow enough for a toddler not to drown. There is profundity and simplicity. It makes the wise simple and the simple wise.   For many people, however, they open the Bible and feel the gap – culturally, historically, and spiritually. Rules of interpretation (known as ‘hermeneutics’) are given to help people observe, interpret, and apply the Bible. But what if the Bible could be read much more simply and supernaturally? Does it have to start with such a complex science?   Martin Luther believed that there were three steps in reading the Bible, and, if followed, would make a person a great theologian. As he studied Psalm 119, he came to see that the Bible could be read not as a mere academic exercise, but a spiritually transforming encounter with the living God. His concern was not that people would read the Bible scientifically and end up with knowledge, but with faith that produced experiential wisdom. The three steps are oratio, meditatio, and tentatio.   Oratio is reading the Bible prayerfully. Luther would say that if we approach the Bible with our reason and understanding, we...

Extraordinary & Unusual Means to God Answering Prayer – Pastor Andrew

Have you ever thought about the very practical ways that God answers prayer?  I’m not thinking about the miraculous, but the everyday, mundane ways that God uses you and me to answer a prayer. This week, I was waiting for a package to arrive.  My order would help me serve others and improve my work.  So I was praying that this package would arrive quickly.  I was given a timeframe, but was praying for something quicker. In praying for a package to arrive so that my life would be improved and that I might serve others more effectively, I began to think about all of the constituent parts that would go into the Lord answering my prayer: the clerical staff who placed my order the manufacturer of the item the shipping company And this list doesn’t even include the developers of computer technologies, GPS location systems, manufacturers for various parts, transportation systems, and the endless list of possible delays in ordering, making, or shipping this item. In praying for a simple request, I was struck by how my prayer assumes so much: a well-run office staff, technology and mechanical engineering that works consistently, a shipping company transporting packages efficiently, and the many people involved all along the way.  And there are so many more pieces than I am aware! So next time you pray, consider the majesty of how God is working in 10,000 ways – almost entirely unseen and unknown to you and me – to accomplish his purposes and answer your prayers! Time to run – the delivery company just arrived!   May God expand your awe...

Whole Church Evangelism ~ Pastor Gary

From the moment of my hiring I said one of my goals for the church would be the “normalization of evangelism”. This passion to see the body of Christ as a natural, everyday witness, by word and deed, to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, was borne out of both theological conviction and personal frustration. The theological conviction comes from trusting what God tells us in his Word. The bible tells us of the remarkable privilege we have been given by God to be “ambassadors for Christ.” All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18,19) He is not only building his church, but doing it through us! Scary thought isn’t it! But wait a minute, perhaps it is only scary when our focus is wrong. It isn’t the reconciling itself that is entrusted to us, but the message that is entrusted to us.  Therefore, we don’t judge our evangelism by our cleaverness, or even by the results – we judge it by our faithfulness to the message, the gospel of Jesus Christ. As for my frustration, many years ago I grew increasingly agitated with impotent efforts at sharing my faith: both through the church and privately outside. Too often the church has used manipulation and guilt to get people to “do evangelism.” Take a guess at what then marks our evangelism: you got it, manipulation and guilt! I would...

Take Up and Read ~ Pastor Andrew

As much as summertime is a great time to crack open a book, there is one book that I can’t recommend highly enough. It continues to be the all-time best seller, has influenced some of the greatest minds, and is the most accessible book of all time. It’s the Bible. Summertime is a great time to recalibrate our devotional habits. We may have started in January with ambitious goals to read through the New Testament of maybe the entire Bible. For many people, the desire faded and is almost a forgotten goal. With the arrival of summer, there is an opportunity to take time to change your pace. By making a plan to read, you could read at least half of the books of the Bible this summer! Did you know that of the 66 books of the Bible, 33 books can be read in 30 minutes or less? Thirteen books could be read from start to finish in less than 10 minutes, and another 11 books would take you less than 16 minutes? Just take a look at this chart and see how you could pick up your Bible and get back into a good devotional groove! By reading through a shorter book in one sitting, you could re-read one book several times over a week. Try and pick out themes, let the flow of the argument sink in, and become familiar with the book. Maybe you’ve always wanted to memorize some passages. By reading the same book over and over, you will become familiar with the message and have more opportunities to meditate on God’s Word and...

Tell the Truth ~ Pastor Gary

I know many of you make greater room for reading over the summer in general, and on holidays in particular. Pastor Andrew and I have, therefore, often used our summer e-bulletins to highlight books that have influenced us. I wish to take a few of my bi-weekly Friday missives to continue this tradition, starting with the topic of evangelism. Curiously, evangelicals have an uneasy relationship with evangelism. We know we “ought to”, perhaps have even spent time and money on various schemes of training and method, only to remain feeling fruitless: we are no better at sharing Christ, whether measured by frequency or effectiveness. The pastors and elders of CBC Ilderton aim to help in this regard (no, not in making you feel more fruitless!); to see our church edified and discipled toward effective gospel ministry. One resource that will help in this regard is the classic Tell the Truth[1] by Will Metzger. Metzger has served with Inter Varsity as a campus minister at the University of Delaware for over 50 years, and his experience shows in the breadth of reflection in this wonderful book on a topic so often reduced to quick and trendy methods. I deeply appreciate Metzger’s heart for faithful evangelism and genuine conversions. He desires to see the gospel understood and shared faithfully within a biblical framework. Toward this end much of the first two of three sections is devoted to a kind of ‘theology of evangelism’. I know many people will write this book off after reading that – don’t be one of those people! So often we just want someone to tell us...