News & Notes Vol 13 No. 13

Of Prayer and Many Other Things

Dear friends,
I had two very exciting experiences of public prayer in the last two weeks.  They were so poignant and meaningful to me that I thought I would share them.
The first was at the Provincial Leadership Prayer Breakfast in British Columbia.  I have experienced several Prayer Breakfasts in the past; the first at the age of 20 at the American National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC.  I’ve been to Ottawa at the National Prayer Breakfast in Canada and in Calgary at that Prayer Breakfast and this one in Vancouver.  The quite unplanned and seemingly spontaneous or spirit prompted (which might be more appropriate) theme of the Provincial Prayer Breakfast in Vancouver was that of hope and hopefulness. Many of the speakers spoke of being in desperate need to call out to God in times of personal need or comfort.  The theme was quite powerfully engaged.  It ran the gamut of people speaking of their conversion story of coming to Christ for the first time, and also of praying for the sick and the wounded, or the faraway, or just in moments, vocationally or personally, in which they were extremely anxious and worried.
There is a particular prayer that is used at the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa, and at other Breakfasts including the recent one in Vancouver.  It speaks of the “spirit of Jesus” but is not explicitly, or in a way I would prefer, clearly Christian yet, it is placed in the spirit of Jesus and the context of the Christian faith.  Regardless of that it is a powerful prayer in so many ways.  As a Christian I, both at the beginning and end of it, silently pray to myself these things in Christ’s name.  The first is that prayer.
The second prayer is one that was spoken by a young woman at Southwest Community Church in Kamloops which I found particularly gripping, relevant, and personally encouraging.  I thank Libby for her willingness to allow me to share this with you.
The final prayer is taken out of the “Gathering for Worship” book.  It talks about Christ coming to make things new.  I pray that as we continue in the Lenten series and season and as we pray for those who do not yet know Christ we will in fact be called to see that Christ is making all things new.
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy
 
A Prayer for the Province (BC Leadership Prayer Breakfast):
Almighty God, we once before you in prayer, in the spirit of Jesus, for the leadership of British Columbia and Canada.  We declare our need of you and pause this morning to give you thanks.
We thank you for blessing us with a free country, a rich diversity of people, abundant natural resources and a beautiful environment.  We pray that as leaders we will be wise managers and good stewards of all that your hands have provided.
We pray for our nation and our world.  Lord, where there is division, conflict, bitterness and hatred, both in this country and abroad, may you bring your wisdom, justice and healing.  Where we have been party to this division, conflict, bitterness, and hatred, we ask for your forgiveness and reconciliation.
We pray that you might give wisdom and discernment to all those who govern and administer our country, our province, our towns and cities.  Give wisdom and discernment also to those who are in Opposition.  We pray that all may be men and women who, themselves, are led by you; who do not seek prestige but service, and set the good of the community above the good of any individual or group.
We pray for all people who work, study or volunteer in this province.  We pray that we might use our faith, skills and resources to correct iniquities, bring hope, and work toward justice and righteousness.
Help us to be worthy of the inheritance that we have received from you through our First Nations and ancestors.  May we protect all that we share, so that we may pass on an even finer province to those who will inherit it from us.
May we lay aside all private interests and prejudices.  Unite us in all our diversity under your sovereign rule, to love you and to love others.  May all who are called to serve as leaders throughout British Columbia have the courage to lead us in truth, peace, and humility.  Strengthen us all, we pray in the name of our Blessed Creator, Provider, and Sustainer.  Amen.
 
This is the prayer spoken at Southwest Community Church Sunday morning service on March 26th:
Beloved Lord and Saviour,
We bow our hearts to you, the one who is seated far above the rest, you are worthy of the praises we sing today and for the rest of eternity. Messiah, we want your kingdom come, we pray in earnest that your rule would be over all situations around the world. We lift up the attacks in the UK, may your peace be a healing and soothing balm over the many wounds, may your sovereignty reign in all forms of government and leadership, and may your sense of justice prevail over our own. It’s easy to see where your reign is necessary around the world, yet in our own hearts, we find it difficult to relinquish power, claiming we do a good enough job as leader of our lives. We have a prepared list of reasons why we’re good at being in control. We can be like the Israelites, wanting to go back to Egypt even after witnessing your divine guidance through the Red Sea. Father, you have shown us your worthiness, may we put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature since we have taken off the old self with its practices and put on a new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator. Jesus, you are described as the one who fulfills everything in everyway, and may we honour you as such, may we obey your teachings, and love our brothers and sisters. May we hold our control in open and joyful hands. We invite your will to be done, and we do so with hopeful hearts, knowing that you are the Good Shepard and will not lead us astray. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 
 
Gathering for Worship: Opening Sentences for the Lord’s Supper:
 
Among the poor,
among the proud,
among the persecuted,
among the privileged,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
In the private house,
in the public place,
in the wedding feast,
in the judgement hall,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
With a gentle touch,
with an angry word,
with a clear conscience,
with burning love,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
That the kingdom might come,
that the world might believe,
that the powerful might stumble,
that the hidden might be seen,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
Within us, without us,
behind us, before us,
in this place, in every place,
for this time, for all time,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 12

Transitions & Thankfulness.

Dear friends,
In the first newsletter of this month I outlined some major changes that were unfolding at the CBWC.  What I was not free to speak to at that time was that Bob Webber will be transitioning out of his role as Director of Ministries.  Bob and his wife Faye have been active and involved in Baptist family life for years.  Bob grew up in First Baptist Calgary, AB.  His first job after university was as Director of Gull lake Camp in Alberta.  I have worked with Bob for over 8 years and found him to be so committed to his Lord, his church, his family, and this larger CBWC family that he has given his energy, time, wisdom, and great good laughter as gifts to us all.  Personally, I am very appreciative of Bob’s commitment to the local church and the enrichment and energy he brought to the Executive Staff, the Camp Committee, the CBWC Foundation, the Finance Committee, and the CBWC Board.  Thank you, Bob, very much for your deep commitment and long service which will continue in a variety of forms for many years to come.
Related to the theme of roles, every 2 or 3 years we publish a set of Organizational Charts which help people put names to faces in the work we do together.  The leadership of the denomination is clearly from the Executive of our Board (shown below).

A final comment… I have heard some comment that yet again an Executive Minister is located on the West Coast  or “Left Coast” (unflatteringly and inaccurately called, given our Provincial Government).  I have heard a comment that the majority of staff are in the Lower Mainland in British Columbia.  5 out of 8 Executive Staff are in Alberta; 2 (including our new Executive Minister, Rob Ogilvie) are in British Columbia; and 1 (Mark Doerksen) is in the Heartland.  There is a considerable balance of influence and engagement given that the CBWC Foundation is based in Calgary as well as the Ambrose Undergraduate Initiative, and 2 of our camps.  All these things suggest a broad dispersal of resources and personnel.. We are striving to be very conscious that our governance, staff, and ministries are cognizant of geographic diversity and ministry experience.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News from the Family: Please pray for Louanne Haugan as we shift to a new benefits system and join with the other Canadian Baptist denominations in caring for our staff.

Quote of the Week: From a poem by August Wilson:
When the sins of our fathers visit us
We do not have to play host.
We can banish them with forgiveness
As God, in His Largeness and Laws.

 

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 11

Balancing Between Extremes

Dear friends,
Today’s newsletter is a devotional and reflection on contrasting choices we are faced with I trust that it is helpful and meaningful. It tends not to be a newsy newsletter but a more reflective and indeed theological and practical newsletter this week. Thanks for your patience. God be with you.

I am constantly being surprised and perplexed by the “either/or” thinking that is used to discuss complicated topics. Take for example the simple notions about evangelism. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once remarked that he was a Calvinist on his knees and an Armenian on his feet. That is to say he prayed God’s will in desiring that God would turn people’s hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet while he was preaching he believed that with passion he could persuade that the spirit had one part of the conversion narrative to accomplish and that his own willingness to share had the other part. What Spurgeon was practicing was not commonly referred to as a balanced approach but indeed holding two very different yet complementary things in tension. Life is very much like that. Jesus often spoke in metaphor and indeed hyperbole. His own disciples were often confused as to what his message or point was; particularly in the parables.

Charles Simeon, an Anglican Evangelical from the 19th century, was famous for his comment that the truth of any topic was not in the middle of two extremes but in fact in both extremes. That sounds awkward but it’s not. Think back to the comment we just made about Charles Haddon Spurgeon: a Calvinist on his knees and an Armenian on his feet. Simeon is right in far more areas of life that we would like to think. The practice of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the advice of Charles Simeon, and in fact our wisdom from the ages and from elders must give us pause to think. They are thinking. Indeed, the behavior that followed their thinking if you read their history and ministry has a great deal of application today: from the areas of church life, personal prayer, and devotional life to the public realm in good governance and to the political battles that are waged in all parts of the world.

Since we are so near the time of the inauguration in the United States it is interesting to note how Harry Truman chose scriptures from two parts of the Bible for his inauguration. He had in fact 2 Bibles open to him and laid his hands on each; 1 was open to the 10 Commandments and the other was open to the Beatitudes. I think it’s obvious on 1 level the contrast between those 2 passages. Yet there is this complementary nature of what God expects of us and how he also in his call to holiness and piety from the 10 Commandments calls us to that deeper meaning of life, compassion, and humility in the Beatitudes. I would draw us and our attention to that wonderful sermon in the final verses of the Beatitudes:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16
(And the 10 Commandments: Exodus 20:1-17)
 
We are all called to be salt and light. You know the depth and meaning of those phrases.  I indeed find that to be a prophetic and passionate call from Jesus to be that which preserves and gives flavor. Furthermore, without salt there is no long-term viability of life. In addition, without light, not simply in the natural order of things (the photosynthesis of the sun which gives us the basic building blocks for life itself) but in Jesus this gift of life and light that comes to us… without him there is indeed no life.

“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:3-9
 
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”” John 14:6-7
 
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

Quote of the Week:  Martin Luther King Jr: “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk then by all means start moving.”

News from the Family: Please pray for Sam Breakey and team in the church health and renewal work, and for the renewal that they are seeking in the life of our churches. For those churches currently being encouraged by this process, pray especially that the Holy Spirit would help people discern where the church is presently at and what future steps they should be undertaking in the power of the Spirit to see new things happen and God’s powerful presence in their lives flourish.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 10

Baptist World Alliance Statement on Refugees

Dear friends,

I am at the meetings of the Executive of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) held in Falls Church in Washington, DC.  What a tumultuous time to be meeting as the international Baptist family!  It is also so very much worth remembering that today is International Women’s Day (one day there should be an International Men’s Day although many believe that we have enough of those anyway…lol).  Coincidentally, the story of a young woman from Nigeria was shared this morning by Elijah Brown, the new General Secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship.  Nigeria is home to 2 of the 5 most lethal terrorist groups in the world.  It is 2nd only to Syria in the number of internally displaced people.  The story of the young woman this morning was of her and her family being displaced by Boko Haram.  Her whole family was in a displaced persons camp.  Her parents decided to try and go back to the farm they had abandoned but they left this young woman of 16 in charge of her 3 younger brothers.  Elijah Brown asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up and what her name was.  She said she wanted to be a doctor.  She said she went to church because she knew only Jesus could save her.  She had the most difficult time caring for her 3 younger siblings with so few resources.  Her name, by the way, her name, she said, was Mighty.  “Would you spell your name for me?” said Elijah upon hearing it.  And she repeated, “Mighty”, to which Elijah said, and maybe all of us should say, “You have lived you name. Yes, mighty indeed.”

Please find below the BWA Declaration on Refugees released in February this year:

A Baptist World Alliance statement on refugees

Created: Friday, 03 February, 2017

“The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) reaffirms its biblical stance concerning refugees, vulnerable people who are oftentimes victimized for their faith.

In a resolution approved by its General Council in Vancouver, Canada, in July 2016, the BWA calls upon its “member bodies, affiliated churches, and individual believers to actively embrace opportunities for Christian ministry and witness that exemplify the biblical teaching to love the stranger (Lev. 19:18b) and Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40), being salt and light in ways that bring the values of our Lord into our culture.”

The resolution further encourages Christian believers “to personally engage with all refugees and displaced persons, generously showing God’s love and care as we demonstrate the sufficiency of God made known through Jesus Christ.”

In light of this resolution passed a little more than six months ago and previous resolutions in 2011 and 2013, the BWA decries recent actions by the United States Government to issue a blanket travel ban on seven countries that specifically targets refugees and that seems to especially affect Muslims.

These actions are already having a negative impact on the lives of families. It has adversely affected service providers who work directly with refugees and has created unexpected difficulties for Baptist institutions in the United States, such as universities and seminaries, with students enrolled from the seven named countries.

While the BWA recognizes that a government has a right to create and maintain conditions that provide for the safety of its citizens, there is a temptation to give in to fear and to hastily pursue misguided policies that will have deleterious long-term effects and that undermine freedom of religion.

We accept this is not a situation that has emerged quickly and is in part a response to longstanding problems in these seven countries. We decry unjust actions that are too often left unaddressed and conditions that are allowed to deteriorate.

We note that in Iraq, Christians, Yazidis and others face genocide at the hands of the Islamic State. Over the last decade, the Christian population in Iraq has shrunk from 1.5 million to less than 200,000.

In Yemen, a Global Alert from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network indicates that Yemen is at risk of the highest level of food insecurity.

Syria is one of the most complex conflicts and humanitarian situations in our world that has devastated the country, which faces a future of trauma and rebuilding.

Baptists, fellow Christians and all people of goodwill should work to reverse conditions that lead to displacement in these and other countries and for peace, harmony and justice to prevail.

The BWA commends Baptists in countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere, who have embodied the biblical mandate to stand with the vulnerable and to extend Christian hospitality. We support Baptists in the United States who offer welcome and provide assistance.”

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week:  The European Baptist Federation represents about 825,000 people. Turkish Baptist churches are applying to be received into the BWA family and 1 of them is in a small town (for various reasons nameless for now) for which there is no other Christian church of any description within 2-3 hours drive, not 1 church.

News from the Family: Some of our camps are preparing for weeks that are already fully booked.  Pray to the Lord not just to bring campers but that the Holy Spirit might prepare them to meet Christ anew.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 9

A time of prayer and transitions

Dear friends,

There is a well-known Chinese expression (or general expression from Asia) that says we live in interesting times. It is indeed true in the family of churches called the CBWC. It is often been said that change is seen as loss and that loss needs to be grieved. I would beg to differ for I feel that the changes we are engaged in in the CBWC are exciting, encouraging, and dynamically led by the Holy Spirit. I recall an annual meeting I once attended that began with a quote from Charles Dickens. The quote was the opening line of a Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times”…. I think that the current opportunities and challenges that are available to us as a family have given us the chance of a generation to see God’s activity amongst us and through us in the service of the Gospel in Western Canada.

Let’s begin our time together this week by recapping our 2 previous newsletters. We have been encouraging each other to ask two simple questions. First of all, Lord make yourself known to me and secondly, if it be your will make yourself known to others through me. We have also asked one another whether there are particular people to whom we could speak of this new life in Christ as the season of Lent begins and we all turn our hearts and minds towards Easter and the resurrection story. We pray and trust that this resurrection story might be personal and real for the many whom we are privileged and have the opportunity to pray for. I have reflected on whom I will pray for and have in my heart and mind 3 or 4 names, I trust you will find this experience meaningful to you as well.

  • Please pray for our new Executive Minister Mr. Rob Ogilvie as he prepares to transition well from the BCY regional position. He will probably end his work in BCY in May and pick up the orientation part of his new work in June. He will be overlapping with me for that month.
  • Please also pray for Dawn Johannesson, the BCY regional office administrator, and the BCY regional advisory group as they experience the transition of Rob and also anticipate a new BCY regional minister.
  • Please pray for Kayely Rich and the search committee looking for the new BC regional minister.
  • Please pray for Laura Nelson, our president, as she finishes her term and leads us, along with Kayely Rich and the organizing committee, for The Gathering at the end of May.
  • Pray for Louanne Haugan as she creates her own development team.
  • I would ask your prayers in my own transition and so that I might discern well how to use the break for reflection and Sabbath with my wife Kerry.

 Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy