So, the worship team has been working through a devotional over this past month or so, using a plan titled “What Does it Mean to Worship?”. Over these past weeks, we've looked at the definition of worship, why we worship, and different ways that we can worship. This week we're looking at what it means to worship God by serving.
The opening quote of the devotional says this, “It is impossible to serve God without serving one another” (Allistair Begg).
Which seems right, right? It does.
Unfortunately, that doesn't make it easy.
The truth is - for me at least - there are times when it is incredibly difficult to serve others.
Just to illustrate, I'm going to share with you guys a snippet of the vows Mike and I made to each other on our wedding day (taken from the book “Blue Like Jazz”... yeah, that's how cool we are)
“I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will not expect your love, demand your love, trade for your love, game for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again.”
No pressure, right? No big deal, this is exactly the kind of love I show to Mike every. single. day. Because if there's any person in your life that should be easy to serve, it's your spouse, right??
Nope! (sorry Mike!)
I get lazy, and I get selfish.
Even the person I've vowed to love and cherish for the rest of my life I find difficult to serve, and I even like him!
What do I do about the people that rub me the wrong way? The ones who say inappropriate things at inappropriate times? The people I'd rather avoid?
Further into the devotional are these words, “We'll never lock eyes with someone whom God doesn't adore. Those are the people we get to serve.”
Man, that's tough. That's REALLY tough! But it's only tough until I realize the undeserved love I have in my life from the one who gave me life. It's tough until I am humbled to the fact that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It's tough until I remind myself that we don't serve others to glorify ourselves or the people we are serving, we serve to glorify God!
And that makes it a little easier.
The devotion closed this way, and I'll leave these words with you.
“Our aim in serving God is to bring Him glory. Whatever it is and however we're able, we can serve God by serving others. Let's commit ourselves to making a difference in the body of Christ with our gifts, abilities, and traits. It doesn't have to be a full-time job, but it should be our full-time calling”.
“Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).
Jolene Sanders, Director of Worship
I have some potentially shocking news for you, so perhaps you should sit down.
Ready? Here goes.
Not everyone likes small talk.
Shocking, I know, but true.
Small talk is crafted around the idea that you have a small window of time to engage with someone, usually a stranger, so it’s best to keep the conversation light and shallow. Acceptable topics: Weather (“beautiful day!”), general health (“fine”), observable circumstances (“Look at that cute puppy!”), and common aggravations (“The bus is late again!”). Unacceptable topics: Politics, politics, and politics.
For close friends, small talk is the stuff we use to get to the bigger conversation. “How was your week? Not good? Tell me more about that…”
Each week after the service we serve coffee and snacks with the intention of slowing us down a bit. Connect time keeps us from running for the parking lot and jumping into the next thing in our day. It allows us to linger in the presence of other believers, strengthen friendships, and build into one another.
Unfortunately, we tend to speak with the same group of people each week. They’re the people you came with, you sit with, or you socialize with outside of Sunday morning. Those are the people you have actual conversations with, and for everyone else it is just small talk.
As we have come through the Convictions of Discipleship series and have been made aware of the importance of helping others “take a step to the right”, I wonder if we might better use the minutes after the message to encourage one another and to build one another up to be Christ-learners. Could those first five minutes build into someone, strengthen their faith, challenge their thinking, and deepen their connection to the local church?
On Thanksgiving weekend we gave everyone name tags with coloured stickers, and after the service you were encouraged to talk with someone outside of your normal circle of friends who had the same sticker as you.
Greens greeted the greens, purples parlayed with purples, yellows yelled at yellows (Not really, but there’s not that many ‘y’ words).
Those stickers made it much easier for those who don’t have a close circle of friends to talk with others, and to make some new connections. Plus there was the added benefit of a name tag, so you could try to learn a few names! Sure there was some small talk at first, but it was really fun to overhear some of you go out on a limb and ask about family, holiday traditions, and your favourite pie recipes!
What do we take from this? In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we want to challenge you to spend the first five minutes after each service speaking with someone outside of your usual group of friends. You might find that what begins with small talk can blossom into a disciple-making relationship of helping someone else take a step to the right and grow in their faith as they follow Jesus Christ.
If you need come conversation starters, come and talk to us. We’re putting together some material to help you better engage with others after the message, and we’d love for you to test it out and give us your feedback.
This week, let’s give our first five to God and His mission, and see what He can do as we encourage one another in the faith.
There is no denying that in Canada, public policy today is going to affect our lives tomorrow. Even this week in the debates between the various leaders of the political parties, we heard how every vote for them is going to change the way we live and do business. I am sure that you, like most Canadians, are wrestling with the decision of who we want to lead our country for the next 4 years. I thought I would take the time to help us think biblically about what is going to happen in the next few weeks.
But first, let me make it abundantly clear that I or anyone else in church leadership should ever assert for one party over another publicly in the church. Who you vote for is between you and God, and the role of a pastor or ministry leader is not to endorse one candidate over the other in a public church life forum. This is seen as an abuse of power and I have tried to be careful as I possibly can. I’ve even gone so far as to not have a political party sign on my lawn in case it puts pressure on people to vote for the candidate of my choosing. Even though I know I could put up a sign, I don’t want to ever be criticized for being overtly “one-sided” in my relationships with neighbours. Politics can divide and if I am trying to build bridges with my neighbours, why would I let a sign get in the way? That’s my personal conviction, not that of Calvary.
But what I can do is this – I can call the church (you and I) to respond to the issues and candidates from the framework of what the Bible teaches about society, government, freedoms and conscious. The Bible speaks about issues the issues we face. We can respond biblically to the questions of medically assisted death, religious freedom, palliative care, human trafficking, refugees, child and youth in government care, poverty and homelessness, etc. We need to make sure we understand what the Bible teaches about these issues and seek the candidate that we feel would best lead our country to reflect our opinions. We then vote and trust God. Once we have a government in place, we are then called to support what we can.
Romans 13 teaches the church that the governments that are put in place are ordained by God. This means that we are to submit to their authority and also to pray for them and pray that they lead and govern diligently and honestly. Even if we disagree with their policies, we are still to respond in a Christ-like manner and pray that they are open to God leading their lives and ability to make wise decisions. Also, 1 Timothy 2:2 says that we pray for them that they would let us continue to lead peaceful lives and practice our faith in freedom and security
With this in mind though, it still means that we do have a part to play in the election process. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has created a website to help Christians think through the issues and vote in a manner that reflects our faith and practice: http://www.theefc.ca/Election2019
So, what can we do?
- Pray for our current elective officials – pray that God would break into their lives and that they would come to know Christ if they already do not. If they do believe, that their belief would lead them in making wise and thoughtful decisions on policies that affect our society.
- Pray for those who are seeking to be elected or re-elected – God is sovereign and we can ask God to show His power by putting the best candidate in the seat.
- Pray for those who will vote – we have a big problem with people not exercising their freedom to vote. Pray that many would make the effort to get familiar with the issues and vote intelligently. Use the EFC voter guide. Talk to others. Read the websites. Plan to get out and vote.
- Pray for our country – Our country is at cross-roads and we ask that God would provide the peace and love of neighbours to persevere through our differences.
This year, our church facility will be a voting station. We are happy to see our building used to bring the community-at-large together. Voting is important and even though we don’t publicly endorse one candidate over the other, we want Burlington to see that we do care about the process and are praying that God would lead our nation to the right government for the next 4 years.
So we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 9-10).
Aaron Groat, Senior Pastor
Each week we post about a range of things from the Christian life, faith and more.
In these posts we hope you'll catch a glimpse of ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God.