Encouragement From The Word

To love and serve

I was doing some research for a message this week, and I encountered a prayer-hymn. It struck me to the point I thought it would be worth sharing with you.

It was written by Richard Baxter, a 17th-century Puritan clergyman who wrote widely and deeply about Christian faith.  His seminal work is called The Reformed Pastor, which is worth reading even if you’re neither Reformed nor a pastor!  (Truth be told, he wrote it in response to The Country Parson, Anglican cleric George Herbert’s work on pastoral care.)

Background aside, I think you will find this a prayer worthy of your lips.  If you’d prefer to sing it, it’s set in Common Meter (8.6.8.6).

Lord, it belongs not to my care
whether I die or live:
to love and serve thee is my share,
and this thy grace must give.

Christ leads me through no darker rooms
than he went through before;
he that into God’s kingdom comes
must enter by this door.

Come, Lord, when grace hath made me meet
thy blessed face to see;
for if thy work on earth be sweet,
what will thy glory be!

Then shall I end my sad complaints
and weary, sinful days,
and join with the triumphant saints
that sing my Saviour’s praise.

My knowledge of that life is small,
the eye of faith is dim;
but ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
and I shall be with him.

So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart” (Psalm 90.12, NRSV).

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Encouragement From The Word

Celebrating by giving

In some cultures, I’ve learned that when an individual is celebrating a milestone of some sort, the individual gives gifts to those who have helped him or her to achieve the milestone, rather than the common North American tradition of others bringing gifts to the individual.  I’ve come to appreciate that.

This year, our church decided to try that approach.  We are celebrating our 60th ICG14anniversary of ministry and service to our community, so last Wednesday evening, we borrowed an idea from a friend of mine, and hired an ice cream truck to roam the streets of town for an evening.  We stopped at a seniors’ residence, a soccer pitch, and a community park – and for any passersby as we journeyed along.  People were expecting to have to pay for the ice cream.

But they didn’t.  We did.

Why? We did it to invite our community to celebrate with us, and to get the word out that serving Jesus and having fun can be compatible.

We weren’t preaching to anyone.  We told them St. Paul’s was celebrating its 60th anniversary by giving away ice cream cones.  The driver/server of the ice cream truck was so thrilled at what we were doing that he told everybody he gave a cone to where the church is and what time worship begins!

Will this result in higher attendance?  Possibly, but not likely.  That’s not really why we did it.  But if our act of kindness to our community planted a seed or two, it will have been successful. You never know what opportunities may come about down the road because we offered an ice cream cone on a warm evening, in Jesus’ name.

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically” (Romans 12.11, NLT).

Biblical Messages

What Matters To Us (2)

In this (delayed) second instalment in our discussion on core values, we look at service and community and why they matter.  This message includes a few folks talking about why their LifeConnect Groups are important to them.  It’s based on Mark 10.35-45 and Hebrews 10.23-25.  Watch or listen below!

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Encouragement From The Word

Cultivating to serve

I know a guy who slipped on some ice not long ago and broke his wrist badly.  And let’s face it:  there’s never a good time to break a bone, but in the middle of winter, when you have a long driveway to shovel, it’s a particularly bad time.

The story is not all about pain, though.  He had to undergo surgery to reset his wrist, and when he came home, casted, he found his driveway had been cleared of snow.

At that point, clearing the driveway was probably the last thing on his mind.  But some of his friends had not forgotten it.

You might be thinking that a neighbour cleared it out for him, which would have been very kind indeed.  But that’s not what happened.

While he was in surgery, one of his university buddies contacted 9 other mutual friends, and the 10 of them pooled a few bucks together and paid to have their friend’s driveway cleared – for the rest of the winter.

Can you imagine?  Having a broken wrist, and not having to worry about shovelling at all until after it’s healed?  It’s a really thoughtful gift.

What’s particularly heartwarming is that in our very insular and individualistic society, there are signs that people still care – and care enough to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

There are many good lessons from this story, one of which is the importance of cultivating strong relationships.  I mean, I can’t think of the names of 10 people I went to university with, let alone be in touch with them in such a way that they would know I was injured and needed help.  You might not be able to, either – but it’s not too late to cultivate strong relationships now.

Think about your circle of acquaintance, both within the church and outside.  How strong is it?  How can you strengthen those relationships – not so that you would get help if you needed it, but so that you could be helpful if it were needed?

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”  We can deepen our relationships so we can serve others.  And who knows?  By serving others, by God’s grace, doors of faith might open.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4.10, NLT).

P.S.:  If you’re interested in integrating your faith and your work, consider coming to St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton for a simulcast retreat called “Work as Worship” on Friday, February 23 from 8:30 to 3:30.  Lunch is provided in the $25 registration cost.  Learn more by clicking here.

Biblical Messages

Mission as Service

There are different aspects of mission for the church, and one is service.  Today, based on 1 Corinthians 3.5-9, we look at how acts of service and kindness can build a bridge to Jesus.  Have a listen below, or watch the Facebook feed (no account required) at the link underneath.

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