Defending the faith

How do you invest in others?

How do you invest in others?

This question is on my mind right now, as I have been spending some time preparing a brief lecture for a group of students at Tyndale Seminary that I will present next Wednesday evening.  The topic is “clergy self-care”, about which I have a fair bit of experience, both positive and negative.  I look forward to sharing my experience and insights with these people from varying backgrounds who will be out in the field as pastors themselves before too long.  I look forward to helping them learn from my mistakes!  Sharing what I’ve learned along the journey of twenty-plus years of ministry is a great way to invest in others.

I seek to do the same with the good people of St. Paul’s, Nobleton each Sunday, and through the week, in every aspect of my ministry.  Whether it’s a message or a prayer during worship, a chat at Tim’s, the post office or the study, or even at a meeting – my goal is to invest in people so that their walk with the Lord may be enriched somehow.

So how do you invest in others?  One way you can do that is through a simple invitation to worship.  A few times a year, the Outreach Team at St. Paul’s does its best to make that easier for our gang by sending mailers out to the community.    (One side of this Easter’s postcard, thanks to lifechurch.tv, is pictured.)

What we’re sending out isn’t so much an invitation to come to church at Easter, though the timing of it is quite intentional that way:  I find that beginning a new series – one that should be of interest to the community – on a ‘major’ Sunday like Easter not only attracts attention for Easter itself, but also for the whole series.  This year’s Easter season series is on marriage – “Take A Vow”.  (If you’re wondering how I’m going to tie a message on marriage to the resurrection of Jesus, well, you’ll have to show up to find out!)  Rest assured that this series is not just for married people.  It’s for everybody, including those who have never been married, were married and aren’t anymore, and everybody else.  There will be a challenge and a word of encouragement for all people in this series (even if your marriage wasn’t or isn’t all you’d hoped it would be.)

I hope you’ll find this mailer to serve as good ‘support’ for you as you invite your friends to worship at St. Paul’s for Easter or any other Sunday.  It will be distributed to all households in Nobleton, the rural routes north of town, and some of the homes in Schomberg.  If you invite a friend who receives it, each will reinforce the other and the possibility of your friend attending will be greater.

If you find it difficult to invite a friend to church, ask God to give you the courage and the strength to do it, and see it as an investment in eternity for your friend.  Many people have found their lives changed through one simple invitation to worship.  I know you can do it!

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Encouragement From The Word

Life is temporary

The horrific accident that occurred earlier this week northeast of Stratford, in the village of Hampstead, Ontario, has served to remind us that life is fragile – and temporary.  Eleven lives were lost in an instant.  Many families are devastated.

The word ‘temporary’ itself suggests something that has to do with time.  It means “to last a short time”.  We may think of our lifespan as being something more than temporary, but on God’s eternal timeline, our lives each take up but a small dot.  In the Grander Scheme Of Things, we don’t take up much space.  Yet, in what time we do have on this earth, we make an impact.  We matter to people.  Much more do we matter to God!

God cares deeply about our every breath, even if the span of our lives is but a dot on God’s timeline.  Too often, though, we live as though we figure we’re going to live forever, don’t we?  This, despite some of our peculiar sayings, such as, “He’s driving that car like there’s no tomorrow” (meaning that the driver was going too quickly or recklessly).  Life is temporary.

People who move beyond middle age often begin to realize this, and they evaluate their lives – which sometimes results in the creation of a “bucket list” – a list of things these people want to do before they die.

There’s nothing wrong with having a “bucket list”, but when it focuses on things that are, like life itself, temporary, the bucket list itself becomes somewhat vapid.  For instance, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go zip-lining before you die.  In fact, it might be kind of fun – but it is decidedly temporary.

What if we really understood the temporary nature of this life, and decided to do things that, instead of impacting a few minutes now, actually made a difference for eternity?

Starting with ourselves, it means making sure that our own accounts are settled with God.  As yourself:  Am I engaged in a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?  Am I serving him with a community of believers and their children?  Have I received the grace that God longs to pour out upon me?

Then move to your loved ones:  Have I encouraged my children, my family, my friends to walk with the Lord, even as I do?

Beyond that, consider:  Do I engage in acts of service that will help God’s kingdom come on earth, just as it is in heaven?

An horrific accident like the one in Hampstead shows us how quickly life can be taken away.  Let’s live each moment we have investing in eternity.  We don’t know when eternity may become our now!

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90.12, NLT).