Heartland Regional Newsletter January 2022

Trusting God as We Look Ahead

By Mark Doerksen

We’ve just come through the Christmas season, a season that has a lot of spiritual significance, but also a lot of cultural significance. A book that I have returned to on occasion when considering Christmas is Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, as he examines the cultural realities of that time in history in that geography, and in so doing, exposes some current Christmas practices as less than accurate or ideal.

Bailey’s approach reminds me a little of someone I’ve discovered lately, a fellow by the name of Michael Heiser. He’s not for everyone, but I find his detailed study of the Scriptures to be quite interesting and thorough. He’s also been a contributor to the Bible Project, and the small group I am a part of are enjoying those resources. Heiser is quite interested in parts of the Bible that perhaps are not as well travelled as others; he covers themes like the heavenly council, Genesis 6, and Revelation. He works to remind Christians of the supernatural worldview of the Bible.

I am writing about Heiser because, as we begin a new year, I think about the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament, and specifically the book of Job—complete with its reference to the heavenly court in Job 1. It’s a fascinating passage to me, as the Accuser is allowed to come and interrupt the meeting of the heavenly court and suggest that the moral equation of the day was skewed; Job only followed God because he was prosperous. That equation needed testing, according to the Accuser, and twice an agreement is reached between the Accuser and the Lord to press the issue concerning Job. The Accuser says things like, “Take away the hedge, and Job’s blessing will turn to cursing. Job is put through unimaginable pain and loss as the Accuser animates the testing against him.

The Accuser turned out to be wrong. The end of chapter 1 tells us that Job did not turn to blame God for his misfortune. In chapter 2 we see another response from Job as he says, “Should we only accept good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” Turns out that Job trusted in God no matter the circumstances in life, no matter how difficult the testing he had to endure.

As we look ahead to 2022, we look forward with anticipation to the new year. There are delightful opportunities and experiences waiting for us, as individuals and families, within our workplaces and as churches. Yet there might also be experiences that will be serious enough to shake us to the core; job loss, a serious diagnosis, a shattered relationship. Is your faith ready for those times of adversity? Is mine? Can we, like Job, manage to trust God even when it feels like the adversity is too much, and that all that we have known unravels before us?

I hope so. I hope that our faith is rooted deeply enough that we can withstand the good and the bad, times of difficulty, times of excitement. And I hope that our churches, families, and friends, can be present with us in all that life brings as well. Most of all, may you sense God’s presence in all of life in this upcoming year.

Gratefully & hopefully,

Mark Doerksen

Scott Elger, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Moose Jaw, SK

I am finding this “bio” very difficult to write. My wife, Elsie, and I have been fellowshipping with First Baptist Church for five years. I served 8 years at Riverside Mission, an emergency men’s shelter and soup kitchen here in Moose Jaw, SK. I enjoyed my time with this ministry and could see how the Lord was working in my life as He taught me to serve others. After two years at FBC, I was asked to consider becoming the pastor.

Due to a change in direction and management at the Mission, my position was coming to an end. First Baptist’s invitation was the realization of a life-long desire and I accepted. I started on January 1, 2019. Needless to say, much of my service to First Baptist Church has been under COVID conditions. I had never been a pastor before and ponder at times what I might have to offer as a pastor. The following are some examples of how the Lord has been working in my life to equip me for His service.

In the fall of 1970, shortly before my 14th birthday, my brothers and I were placed in a children’s home run by a local Christian Church. Though some have passed away, I maintain a relationship with many of the staff to this day. For 51 years, I have not known what it is like not to be loved, not to be prayed for, not to be encouraged and not to be included. I have had a very clear example of Christian discipleship lived out before me.

In the fall of 2007, Elsie and I moved to Caronport, SK so that I might attend the seminary. Through my studies and interactions with other students I learned to hear and respect the positions of those who understood differently than I did. I also learned the value of intense study of the Word so that I might come to the clearest understanding of God’s Word that I can.

My experience at Riverside Mission taught me to serve without judgement, to love the people as they come to us and to give of myself without knowing what the return might be. My experience also taught me to be patient with people and to wait upon the Lord in prayer. Many a time we rejoiced at seeing how the Lord answered our prayers.

My service as pastor is simply living out what the Lord has taught me throughout my life. I strive to study well, that I may faithfully teach the Word of God. I aim to partake in an atmosphere of love and acceptance where all of us feel safe and included, where we can experience the Father’s love for us. I want people to experience what I experienced from my time in the children’s home, to know that they are always loved, prayed for, included and encouraged. This is not brought about just by me as pastor, but by each of us in our fellowship. My job is to continue modelling and encouraging it.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca