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
So, I've been tracking with our summer blog post series about our favourite verses, and I gotta be honest with you. Everyone else's verse is so much more inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging than mine is. My favourite verse is found in the book of James. In Bible college I had a friend named Mark (we called him Marco) and whenever we would see each other we'd raise our fists in the air, and say, in a determinate voice “FAITH AND DEEDS”. Because we both loved the book of James, especially chapter 2:14-26. That's my favourite verse... verses... passage... whatever.
But, since my favourite verse isn't a beautiful Psalm, or something that will perhaps warm your heart, I instead want to talk to you about the verse we taught the kids in Cambodia. We were there for 2 weeks to work with the kids of a group of Missionaries. There were families from Holland, Germany, Brazil, and France. So, we were encouraged to teach these kids about Heaven. Coming from such diverse backgrounds, and being in a country that was not their home, that we should teach them about how we all, as believers in Jesus Christ, have Heaven as a home. We loved this idea, it was something we felt comfortable teaching, and really spoke to us, as we were going to be almost a full day’s travel away from our home. So, we started looking for a memory verse to really round out the week, and this is what we decided on.
But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13)
The kids ate it up. By the end of the week they all had it memorized, and we even had actions to go along with it (ask nicely and maybe I'll show ya). And there is something about this verse that resonates deeply with me where I'm at spiritually, and where I'm trying to lead our youth here at Calvary.
Often times you'll hear these arguments from non-believers about the reality of God; “Well, if God were real, there wouldn't be suffering” “If God were real, this thing wouldn't have happened” “If God were real, we'd all be a lot better off”. And at face value, this argument perhaps sounds like it should be a knockout punch to believers. But when we see this verse in 2 Peter, I think we can pretty easily respond.
We aren't looking forward to riches, wealth, or safety on this earth, rather “we're looking forward to the New Heavens, and the New Earth he has promised. A world filled with God's righteousness”. Jesus didn't come to this earth and promise us health, comfort, or good times here. He promised us comfort, joy, and prosperity in Heaven. He didn't promise us a long life here on this earth. He promised us eternity in Heaven with the Father. All too often we forget about what Jesus actually promised us. We suffer here and we ask why, we struggle here and we have a crisis of faith, “is God even real if I suffer?” Of course he is, he in fact told us that we were going to suffer in this life. But that's okay, because what he's offered is much greater than health and well being here, he's offered us an eternity of perfect love, and happiness, and joy, and comfort, with him in Heaven. A world FILLED with God's righteousness.
And that is a promise I can stand on.
Mike Sanders, Director of Youth Ministries
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.
We’re in the midst of a series called “I Love That Verse” where we’re talking about some of our favourite verses and why we love them. As a young teen, Proverbs 26:11 was on my list.
At that time most of my Bible reading was done in the pew on a Sunday morning, using the Word as a diversion from the message or a decoy to make the adults think we were listening to what was happening in the service. I’m embarrassed to say that my friends and I would flip through the Bible, mostly the Old Testament, and look for the most obscure passages we could find and compare them in hushed whispers. It was a game. And as far as games go, a verse with the word vomit in it felt like a gold medal winner.
In my later teens and into adulthood I worked a lot of retail jobs. It seemed as though every day I encountered people who were angry, annoyed, displeased, irate, or just generally having a bad day. Oh, I also met and served lots of amazing people, but sadly it’s the angry ones that tend to stand out in my memory.
It was around this time that I discovered Psalm 25:21-22, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
Based on this verse, I felt like God was telling me, “Be as sweet as pie to your critics, because it will just annoy them to no end, and you will have the last laugh at their miserable faces.”
Hmmm… looking back I’m fairly certain this isn’t what the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote these words, but nevertheless it became my favourite verse for a time.
So, why am I telling you this? Is it because I want you to see what a lousy Christian I was? Maybe. I am pretty excited at the work of grace and transformation that the Lord has done in my life over the last 20+ years.
Mainly I just want to say this: I have used Scripture for a lot of things. I used it as a game to amuse myself. I've used it to prove myself right and others wrong; to prove myself righteous and others wanting; to show how much God loves me but hates all the sinners of the world. Every motive was centred on me.
But here's the thing. My favourite verse… my absolute favourite verse in the entire Bible… takes the focus off of me entirely and places it firmly on God and the work of Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:4-5 says this, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Check out those beautiful words: Loving kindness. Saved by God. Mercy. Regeneration. Renewal.
I look back now and am ashamed at how I abused God’s Word. What a treasure it is to us, testifying to the heart of the Father, the gift of the Son, and the work of the Holy Spirit. And I missed it for far too long.
If you have a favourite verse (and I hope you do!), make sure it’s firmly centred on God. If reading it makes you feel righteous and puffed up, then read it again. Read the verses around it. What is God saying in the passage about who He is and how He works. Allow Scripture to transform your heart and mind as you dwell on the richness of His Word. You’ll be so glad you did.
And, as the book of Titus ends, “Grace be with you all.”
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