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Maple Syrup and Building Gospel Relationships



As we came out of the house earlier this week, we were greeting by what I hope will be the last snow of the year. The temperatures are getting warmer and visitors are heading to the various Maple Syrup festivals with the promise of fresh syrup and pancakes.

Here’s a little window in your pastor - I love pancakes and fresh maple syrup.  

There’s just something about the “maplely-sweetness” with a fresh cup of coffee that I love.  I enjoyed accompanying Parker’s school class last spring to the sugar shack at Mountsberg. And while they didn’t serve pancakes, we did get a taste of fresh syrup.

An acquaintance of mine makes his own syrup. He lives on a piece of property outside London will a forest full of maple trees and he thought he would try his hand at making his own “maplely-sweet goodness”. But he is finding that the work is very intensive. He is not averse to hard work but did you know that it takes 40 litres of sap to make 1 litre of syrup?  That’s a lot of trekking through the bush, hauling pails, and spending time boiling it down. Maple syrup is precious not only because of the taste but also because of the work involved in producing it.

This reminds me of the hard work of making relationships with people who don’t know Jesus….. yet. It takes a lot of time and energy to develop friendships and relationships that might eventually end up in some sort of spiritual conversation and gospel presentation.  

Jesus said that we are to “make disciples” (Matt 28) as we are going about our life. But how can we be making disciples if we are not doing the work of being connected to people who might never know the powerful love of Jesus? I think we can become very complacent - and dare I say, spiritually lazy by just keeping to our safe little groups and never working, talking and sharing life with people who have never heard the message of Jesus.  Jesus spent his time with people who didn’t know about God’s love for them – and he prioritized his time to be with those people and share the message of the Kingdom of God.   

It might take less than a 40:1 ratio of relationships to spiritual conversations but the work is hard nonetheless.  People need to know that they are loved and cared for before they will open up their hearts and minds to the significant questions that Jesus is asking us to ask of people. 

So, let me close with a three questions to make us think today…

Are you committed to obeying Jesus command to “make disciples”?  It all starts here… I talk a lot about this question here at Calvary but if we don’t believe it that we need to obey Jesus, then we can stop the discussion here.

But if you do believe it (and I really hope you do) , here’s a couple more questions….

Where are you intentionally finding time in your schedule to be with people who don’t know Jesus?  This might require a change in your calendar and prioritize but it is worth it. Yes, it will be counter-cultural, especially when we need live by the ethics and values of the Kingdom, but we can live wisely without giving in to sin or unwise behaviour.

Are we asking people the right questions?  It’s one thing to spend our time with people who don’t know Jesus but there is going to come a time where we are going to have to ask questions about spiritual life and eternity.  Are you doing this? If we truly believe that issues of faith in Jesus are critical, we need to be asking these questions in love.

So, when you are enjoying your maple syrup this spring, think about the work that went into making it and then compare that work with working to build relationships with people who don’t know Jesus.  By faith, when they do respond to the Gospel, the reward will be sweet and all the praise goes to Jesus to is at work in you and His church.

Pastor Aaron Groat

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Love Isn't...

Calvary Burlington  |  Blog Post - Love Isn't

A few months ago, Pastor Aaron got us to do a little exercise before his message. He asked us to draw an X-axis and a Y-axis on a sheet of paper, and "plot out" our journey with God over the last year - all the highs and lows. So, I sat there with my little sheet of paper thinking about the past few months and marking down a visual representation of my walk with God.

Some dots were low on my chart - times if difficulty and uncertainty. Some were way up there - times of blessing and seeing prayers answered.

And as I took a moment to look over my work - the mountain tops and valleys my "God walk" chart showed - I realized this chart had everything to do with me, and very little to do with God.

What I mean is, this jagged line was my experience of nearness to God, but if I drew a chart of God's closeness to me during this time, we'd be look at a straight line right across the top. No dips, no valleys, just a steady love and constant nearness.

We're just coming out of Valentine’s Day, and every year when it rolls around I'm challenged in my understanding of what love is, and what love looks like.

Really, what does love look like?

We know that love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

Often, though, I equate God's love with this broken thing that I try to muster up. Which is why I need to be reminded of these words that talk about what God's love is, and what it isn't:

Your love's not fractured, it's not a troubled mind 
It isn't anxious 
It's not the restless kind
Your love's not passive 
It's never disengaged 
It's always present 
It hangs on every word we say 
Love keeps its promises 
It keeps its word 
It honours what's sacred 
Cause its vows are good 
Your love's not broken 
It's not insecure 
Your love's not selfish 
Your love is pure*

I have to keep reminding myself of who God is apart from my experience, because my experience so often clouds the truth. God is patient, He is kind...

So wherever you are in your walk with God –– whether your strolling side by side or just struggling to hold on ––

Know that He is near, and His love is constant.

Jolene Sanders, Worship Director

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him
should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

*Pieces, by Amanda Cook

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His Power is Made Perfect in Weakness



I’ll be honest, I tend to forget stuff. I have a phone that I record dates and events and I even have a notebook where I write things down, but even with that, there are times that I forget stuff. There was once a time that I could manage my calendar and my to-do list in my head. I don’t know how I did it but I could remember important dates and times, along with names and numbers.

I don’t know whether it’s because we are now so dependent on tech, but I find that I am forgetting more and I constantly need to open up my calendar and my to-do list to get stuff done. Maybe I’m getting older – and I’m ok with that – but there are times where I feel that while the body is willing, the brain is slowing me down. J  

I have really seen this lived out in my life in the last month or so. Most of you know that I’ve been battling this nasty bronchitis and sinus infection. It has really worn me down; I just finished my second round of antibiotics and it still doesn’t feel gone. I am not one to be whining about it, but I am sure that my family and those I work with are tired of hearing me sigh or complain that I don’t feel 100%. I think I am on the mend but it’s taking its own sweet time.

Recently I was reading 2 Cor 12: 8-10 and was reminded of these words of the Apostle Paul.

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I know that Paul was dealing with a lot more than a bad cold but I was really feeling that I needed God’s strength to keep going. Sundays keep coming and there are people that need encouragement and support.

God has been so faithful and provided the strength to press into Him and press on. Then last Sunday, do you remember the verse that God gave us about faithful ministry?

Yep, Colossians 1:29: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

Faithful ministry (to which we are all called), is energised/powered by Him alone. It’s not our strength but His – and by His grace He provides it to us exactly when we need it. This is so that the glory goes to Him and not us.

Remember church, God’s power is at work in you to minister the gospel in word and deed. Press into this truth and press on for His glory. Watch what He does in your life! You will be amazed in how He can use you! He is looking for our weakness so that He can show His strength!

Aaron Groat, Senior Pastor

 

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