Summer Reads 2017 ~ Pastor Andrew

Every summer, I have a stack of books that I take with me for my holidays.  Some are just for pleasure.  Others pertain to an area that I want to study further.  Still others are to sharpen my mind. Good books feed the soul.  And when I travel, I want to be refreshed in body and soul. So if you’re heading out this summer, consider picking up a copy of one of these great books.  I have some extra copies for the first person who asks! Christopher Ash, Zeal without Burnout.  I read this book last year just before I went on my sabbatical.  Many people lose their zeal for God not because of compromise, but because they are exhausted.  There were sentences in this book that gripped my soul and made me think about how to pace myself for the long term.  Filled with practical encouragements and wise tidbits, I began thinking more intentionally about my sleep, rest, friendships and overall well being. Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.  To renew my soul, no book has helped me like this one.  Plotting a course for spiritual growth isn’t easy, but Don Whitney shows how we can seek God’s grace through scripture intake, worship, silence, solitude, journaling, and so much more.  If you want to grow, this book will give you practical ideas on how Christ can be formed in you. Andrew Pettegree, Brand Luther.  To celebrate 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg Chapel, many books have been published.  But what this book does is show how the...

The King’s Jubilee ~ Pastor Gary

In 2012 I had the opportunity to return to Britain for a few weeks to participate in the weddings of two close friends from Oxford. My visit happened to coincide with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. It was only the second time throughout the history of the monarchy that a 60th anniversary jubilee could be observed and the island was in party mode. Streets, shops, and homes were festooned with blue, red, and white bunting. The Union flag was everywhere to be seen, an unusual expression of patriotism for the reserved Brits. Regardless of your affection or disdain for the monarchy, did you know that a jubilee was first seen in ancient Israel? Besides denoting special anniversaries the English word jubilee also means a time set apart for happy celebration (hence the related word jubilation). And this brings us closer to the biblical origin of the word. We find the term jubilee in Leviticus 25, our text for this Sunday, and it is a rough transliteration of the Hebrew word Yobel. A yobel was a ‘ram’s horn’, and it was used as a kind of trumpet to sound the beginning of the Jubilee year. The laws and observances relating to the jubilee echoed the blessings and theological significance of the Sabbath. Just as God laboured in creation six days before resting, so also was man to rest every seventh day. Similarly, the land was to be worked six years, then lie fallow for the seventh – a Sabbath rest for the land. Finally, after every seventh sabbatical year was Israel’s year of jubilee. The sounding of the ram’s horn trumpet heralded a time...

The Light of the World ~ Pastor Andrew

It’s an exciting day here at CBC Ilderton.  We have 90+ children hearing the message that Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12)!  The sun is shining outside and I’m thrilled to participate by telling these children about the awesome adventure of God making his light shine into the world. As much as I love bright sunny days, the theology of light is quite profound in the Bible.  The first words that we hear from God in creation is “Let there be light!” (Gen. 1:3).  And there was light.  But have you ever noticed that the sun and stars don’t appear until day 4? At the end of the Bible, we are told that there is no more need for sun and moon because the Lord will be the light who illumines the city of God (Rev. 22:5).  But as much as the sun and the moon give light to this darkened world between Genesis 3 and Revelation 21, there is a much better light that shines. In Leviticus 24, we get a sneak peak behind the curtain of the tent of meeting and see that a lampstand shines so that the light falls on the the bread of presence.  These 12 loaves, representing God’s people, were to have the seven lights of the menorah shine upon them continually (Lev. 24:1-4).  Just like the light of creation, God’s intention is to shine his face upon his people and give them life and peace (Numb. 6:24-26). There is nothing worse than living in darkness.  Without light, we feel afraid, alone, depressed, and stumble.  In the darkness of sin,...

A Different Kind of Membership ~ Pastor Gary

Credit card icon American Express has long pitched one of the simplest and most recognizable taglines in industry: “Membership has its privileges.”  Yet across North America the evidence suggests that leaders of professional associations and non-profits are facing significant cultural forces working against membership rates, event participation, and new member recruitment. Some pundits even argue that the membership model is dead.[1] Many churches also seem to be succumbing to cultural trends as they lessen or even remove membership requirements for the sake of broader appeal. I wish to take the opportunity through our e-bulletin today to affirm CBC Ilderton’s commitment to church membership and to remind you of our upcoming membership classes. I think there are many misconceptions surrounding church membership. Many see it as a series of extra hoops one must jump through in order to earn membership, which smacks of a legalism contrary to the gospel grace that is freely given to believers. Others see it as distastefully exclusive: to be a member of something implies others are not. Will this lead us down a path of Phariseeism, is the resulting concern. Others see the lack of a direct biblical proposition such as “thou shalt be a member of a local church” as evidence against the necessity, or even appropriateness, of church membership. Our classes will look to address these issues and much more, but to answer the question “who may be a member of our local church Jonathan Leeman gives a great answer in his book Church Membership: “Christians. That is to say, the standard for church membership should be no higher or lower than the...

Children as a Heritage ~ Pastor Andrew

“How many children do you have?” Whenever I get asked this question, I can almost guarantee you the response I will get.  There is a level of shock, a statement of how busy I must be, or a musing about the expense of children. Our attitudes regarding children have dramatically changed.  At one time, a large family was the norm.  Your survival depended upon having children.  Without government social security programs, your children were your social safety net.  They contributed to life and work.  Today, children are economic consumers who need to be ushered from one event to the next while we seek to get fulfillment out of what they accomplish.  In the worst cases, children are seen as barriers to the individual achieving a personal goal. In our Western society, we fail to appreciate how much the sexual revolution of the 1960s has reshaped the way we think about life.  Contraception, abortion, pornography, sex education, same-sex marriage, the role of children, parental notification laws, equality, transgender rights, and divorce – all of these social issues have been influenced by the sexual revolution. Thinking Christianly about sexuality and children is a difficult task in our day.  We breathe the cultural air and over time imbibe the modus operandi of Western society.  The common convictions that Christians have held for millennia can no longer be assumed.  What once was common Christian knowledge and practice is now considered to be archaic and oppressive by others.  But as the Psalmist writes: “Children are a heritage from the Lord” (Ps. 127:3). So how shall we think about children in the modern age?  Is...

The snare of self-righteousness ~ Pastor Gary

A common complaint I have heard from non-Christian friends and acquaintances centres on the so-called self-righteousness of Christians. The claim is that we are legalistic and judgmental. The accusation is to some degree a misnomer: for self-righteous people don’t really get a sense of righteousness from simple self-referral, they get it from comparing themselves with others. Truth be told our friends and acquaintances are often right. The self-righteous person compares themselves to others and judges themselves better at keeping whatever rules mean most to them. The church can be a hotbed of self-righteousness because, hey, we do have a few rules; and these are not self-derived fickle rules, but ones given by God. For someone who tends to compare themselves with others, knowing one follows His rules better than someone else naturally leads to the conclusion that “God is happy with me because I do things better than you.” What does the Lord think of self-righteousness? Consider the little parable to by Jesus and recorded in Luke 18: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other....