Biblical Messages

A praying church is a growing church

What makes churches grow, and what keeps them from growing?  There’s lots to learn in this field.  Today, we looked at the one commonality among all churches that grow:  they pray.

Based on Acts 4.23-31, listen to the message here:

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Biblical Messages

ADVICE FROM A MENTOR: 2. Pray Indiscriminately

In this second part of our journey through 1 Timothy, we encounter what we might call a contemporary roadblock in the challenging part of chapter 2.  Because of that, I deal with it first in the message, discussing verses 8-15 before verses 1-7…a bit of a different approach, but hopefully it was helpful.

Based on all of 1 Timothy 2, you can listen to the message here:

Encouragement From The Word

Pray for Canada

On this Canada Day, I encourage you to pray for the nation we treasure. It was founded on strong Christian principles, not least demonstrated by our coat of arms, with the phrase a mari usque ad mare – from sea to sea. Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley came up with the idea of calling Canada a “dominion”, and while that terminology is no longer frequently used, and we have wavered significantly from our Christian roots, we can know most assuredly that God still has a plan for Canada.
I took a course this week in Vancouver on cultural discipleship in a secular age, and one of the things that struck me early on is what Jeremiah wrote to the exiled people of God. In chapter 29, we’re used to hearing the comforting words that God has plans for us. But earlier in the chapter, the prophet said this to God’s people who had been carted away from their beloved land: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare” (Jeremiah 29.4-7, NLT).
We might be inclined to say this world is not our home, but temporarily, it is. Pray for Canada this Canada Day, and ask the Lord to encourage his people to settle, and to be good neighbours to the many diverse people who inhabit our land, that they may catch a glimpse of Jesus in us.

Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

The lost connection

We never realize how much we rely on our technology until something goes wrong with it.  I spent a good chunk of yesterday morning trying to figure out why my computer would work perfectly well at home, but would not connect to the Internet at the church.  A good friend tried to help, to no avail.  Our Internet Service Provider tried to help, to no avail.  And the maker of my computer tried to help…and we’re not sure yet if that worked.  We’ll see what happens next.

The experience was both frustrating and time-consuming, but that sometimes happens. But it made me wonder:  when I pray, and I don’t necessarily feel like my ‘connection’ with God is happening, how hard do I work to restore it.

Many people of faith have these periodic ‘connection problems’ in their prayer lives.  Some of them occur for lengthy periods of time – even years.  And though we attempt to resolve them, when that doesn’t work on the first or second try, sometimes we are inclined to walk away.  However, when we do that, nobody wins.  Why?  Because God longs to have fellowship with us, and we need to have fellowship with God.  Walking away from the ‘connection’ – the relationship – means that both we and God lose out.

Even in what is deemed “the dark night of the soul” (to coin a phrase from the mediaeval Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross), we can continue to pray in faith.  Though we may not hear from God, God still hears from us, and our faith is practised – even when we think it may be doing no good at all.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta experienced decades of silence in her relationship with God, yet she continued to pray, continued to serve, because she knew it was making a difference.  You and I can do the same.  Though our conversations with God may seem one sided, as though there were nobody on the other end of the line, our faith enables us to carry on because we believe that God hears us, God sees us, God knows that we are engaging with him.

Even when my Internet connection fails, I can keep working on documents and planning and writing and leading, because I believe my connection will be restored.  Even when I feel as though my prayers may be going no farther than the ceiling of my study, I believe the Lord hears them and continues to act.

Do you sometimes feel like your prayers aren’t going anywhere?  Trust that God hears them, and cry out to him that he will make himself known to you again.  God is faithful.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.  Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (Psalm 116.1-2, NLT)

Biblical Messages

REBUILDING A PEOPLE: 2. You Know You’re Doing Something Right

Chances are, if you’ve got critics, you’re doing something right.  Last week, our intern introduced a series on the book of Nehemiah, which we are entitling, “Rebuilding A People”.  It is taking a brief look through this most interesting book of history and faith in the Old Testament.  Today, we looked at Nehemiah 4.1-23, a story of opposition to the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.  Nehemiah’s response to his critics provides us with a vital lesson for ourselves and our churches today.  Have a listen here:

The photos referenced in the message were taken by my wife in Jerusalem in November 2013:

Neh wallis0902 Middle section - Nehemiah