Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
These are the words I’ve been reflecting on for the last few weeks, as I’ve been preparing for our series in the book of James in Student Ministry. These are the words I’ve been trying to figure out how to teach to a group of students who I’m sure are all facing varying trials in school, relationships, and/or at home. “Count it a great joy…whenever you experience various trials.” On its own, this seems like really bad guidance. “Oh, that thing you’re struggling with? Get excited about it!”. You go around saying that to someone without any context, you may as well present them your jaw for a good ol’ punch.
But what we need to remember is that we are not facing these trials on our own. God doesn’t say to us, “Okay, now, go through this really hard thing, I’m gonna sit here and watch, make sure you survive!” No, as we know from the Great Commission, that we’ve been reciting together as a church, Jesus finishes his time on earth by saying, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. Jesus is with us.
When we’re going through that trial, he’s standing there with us. He’s encouraging us and speaking to us to persevere. He’s given us His word to use as a backbone for our defence. We see Jesus, when he was tempted in the desert, he doesn’t overcome the adversary alone. He uses scripture to stand firm. And we also need to. God is with us. When we’re going through trials, God, in His grace, is saying something like, “Okay, you’re going through this hard thing, but don’t fear, I’m with you, you can overcome this, with my help”.
Now, I don’t wanna cut Jolene’s grass, but Hillsong released an album this year that had a song called Another in the Fire. And I want to leave you with it. When you’re going through something difficult, whatever the circumstance, remember that you are not alone. As it says in the song, “Should I ever need reminding, how good you’ve been to me. I’ll count the joy come every battle, ‘cause I know that’s where you’ll be”
Mike Sanders, Youth Director
Do we trust God every day? I like to think that I try to, but when there’s a bump in the road, a disappointment or something doesn’t go as planned, I’m often questioning what happened and why. I might complain, feel the circumstances are unfair, doubt, or try things my own way.
In Sunday school, our grades 2-5 have been on the journey with Moses as he leads the people through the desert to the Promised Land. I can’t even imagine the pressure and sense of responsibility Moses must have felt each day. To be chosen to lead a group of people who were sometimes doubtful, disobedient and difficult, would be tough for sure.
This Sunday we are at the part of the story where Moses is punished. As you may recall, God had asked Moses to gather the people at the rock with his staff and to speak to the rock. Moses did gather the people there, but ended up striking the rock twice. Moses perhaps was frustrated and disobeyed God’s instructions. As a result, he was told that he wouldn’t be the one to lead the people into the Promised Land.
I can totally relate to some of the people in this story. I can see myself lacking in trust for God’s provisions and showing doubt….and even complaining. I can see how Moses may have had a moment where he thought his way was best and became frustrated.
Even with all that, God still loved and cared for Moses and the people. I believe God understands when we fall short or have feelings of fear and doubt. We can definitely trust Him to meet our needs everyday.
Tanya Chant, Director of Family and Childrens Ministry
Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults and with my song I give thanks to Him.
Psalm 9:10 And those who know your name put their trust in You, for You, O Lord have not forsaken those who seek You.
It’s been said, “What we routinely do communicates, reinforces and shares who we are, often far more than what you teach.” In other words, “what I do, is often who I am”. The truth of that statement really cuts deep into my soul when I stop to think about it. The behaviours I engage in are either dictated by what I believe or are the outcomes of what is shaping how I think about life and the world around me.
This gets pretty tricky when we think about it from a faith perspective. If what I do is who I am, then what does that say about me and what I believe. What lifestyle, actions, behaviours do I communicate to my friends and family around me? And I wonder if the corollary is also true, ‘does what I believe dictate what my behaviours should be?’ I think it is.
This September we want to attach this idea of belief and behaviours together by looking at the convictions we hold about something critical to God’s mission on earth. Specifically, if we take seriously Christ’s command to “make disciples” (Matt 28), then what convictions should we hold to as followers of Jesus Christ and members of His body, especially regarding what discipleship is and how we should go about making disciples here at Calvary. Over that last year, our Elders have studied these convictions and have had to do a lot of soul searching about what the Bible says about how we are to be a disciple-making church.
So beginning on Sunday mornings in September we will explore these questions in our sermons:
- Why make disciples?
- What is a disciples?
- How are disciples made?
- Who makes disciples?
- Where to make disciples?
I am looking forward to delving into what the Bible says about these questions and I hope that you will be too. I believe that our best days as a church will come when we make Christ’s convictions our convictions. Won’t you join us?
As well, our Lifegroup ministry will be moving through curriculum we designed in-house specially for the purpose of taking a further look into the answers to these questions and apply the teaching to where you are right now in your spiritual journey. Our Lifegroups are designed to connect people together in smaller groups so that they can grow together and encourage one another. If you’re not signed up yet, contact us and we will make sure you get connected. If you can’t get into a Lifegroup right now I would encourage you to take a copy of the curriculum and plan to meet with someone weekly to work through it. You will be able to listen to our weekly podcast (insert link) of the message and then be able to talk about how we can get the topic deeper into our lives.
This Fall, my desire is to create a renewed vision to help people take a step towards spiritual maturity. It is not going to happen by chance; we must be intentional about it. I am very excited that all our Elders are behind this and we are all on the same page and moving toward the same goal. There will be many opportunities for you to find a place to get established in your faith and also equipped for making disciples. It’s going to be a great series and a great ministry tool! Let’s do this!
Pastor Aaron Groat
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