Easter Banquet 2019

easter dinner

The Easter banquet is an outreach event designed for friends of Faith to bring contacts from the community. In addition to the excellent cuisine suited for international tastes, we offer a program of music, message and memorable fellowship. Tickets are limited due to space restrictions and will be sold on a first come, first served basis after our morning services. We encourage participants to sit with others they might not know. Dress tends to be nice but not formal.

We will eat a great meal together.

This is a great opportunity to come along with friends and family members   and enjoy a  meal ,share the Easter reflection in a relaxed and non-threatening way.We usually have  anything from between 40-100 people joining with us.

Tickets are available in the foyer

*$ for a family with children high school age or below.

 

You were Beautifully Made for Relationship.

I read today that most Canadians consider marriage to be passé. At best, it’s a social event on a calendar designed to last as long as two people want it to. More than half of our country are not in a marriage relationship. Is it cost, culture, community or confusion which is pushing this trend?

Relationships all over the world are interrupted by guilt, fear and shame. The issues on the surface, which we think are driving us apart, are really covers for what is happening deep underneath. In our culture, fear of “not being enough” or of “being too much” are entry points for discussions about the heart of a struggle.

Gary Smalley, (The DNA of Relationships, p. 21) lists a wide diversity of core fears we might feel in relationship. Some of them include feeling ‘helpless, powerless, impotent, controlled, rejected, isolated, alienated, abandoned, left behind, disconnected, failure, unloved, defective, inadequate, pained, hypocritical, inferior, cheated, taken advantage of, invalidated, ignored, devalued, unfulfilled, dissatisfied, humiliated, lack of dignity, disrespected, manipulated or deceived.’ Identifying the core fear is an important part of understanding what is happening inside. If you had to circle two or three core fears which ones would you choose?

Jeremiah 17:9 states that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ”We may not understand ourselves as much as we think.

Smalley identifies a “Fear Dance” that we can easily get into in our relationships. A relational crisis might start when I feel hurt. I then want something. I fear the loss of relationship. I react in an effort to change the other person. Now they hurt. They want something. They fear the loss of relationship. They react so that I now hurt – around and around we go.

We can easily see the other person as the source of the problem and the source of the solution. We expect them to change so they can satisfy our needs or wants.

Smalley (p. 27) combines our core wants and fears when he says:

We want acceptance so we fear rejection; we want grace so we fear judgment; we want connection so we fear disconnection; we want companionship so we fear loneliness; we want success so we fear failure; we want self-determination so we fear powerlessness; we want understanding so fear being misunderstood; (see the rest of the list at the end)

You get the point. When we put the pressure onto someone else to deliver what we want we set up a tension which will ultimately get us dancing in circles with those we care about. The reason for this is that human beings in themselves are not able to deliver all we hope for on their own and this taps into their own fears.

A church is a body of believers all with their own wants and fears. If you’ve been in a church for very long you know that people you come to lean on will not always meet your wants and this will tap into your own fears. In addition, when you have others leaning on you then you will realize you are inadequate to meet their wants and this will tap into their fears. The easy solution tried by many is to run to another church and to replay this scenario over time – or just to isolate yourself and never reach out to anyone to avoid unmet expectations.

If we’re going to be one then honesty is key. What ‘wants’ are at the core of your life and what ‘fears’ do you seeing being played out in you and in the lives of those around you?

(The rest of the list)

  • we want love so we fear being scorned
  • We want validation so we fear being invalidated
  • We want competence so we fear feeling defective
  • we want respect so we fear inferiority
  • We want worth so we fear worthlessness
  • We want honor so we fear feeling devalued
  • We want dignity so we fear humiliation
  • we want commitment so we fear abandonment
  • We want significance so we fear feeling unimportant
  • We want attention so we fear feeling ignored
  • We want support so we fear neglect
  • We want approval so we fear condemnation
  • We want to be wanted so we fear feeling unwanted
  • We want safety so we fear danger
  • We want affection so we fear being disliked
  • We want trust so we fear mistrust
  • We want hope so we fear despair
  • We want joy so we fear unhappiness.
  • Secularism and Medicine in Canada

    Dr. James Dobson, in his book Fatherless, envisions a society in 2040 where current Baby Boomers are pressured into transitioning out of life so that their wealth can be passed on to the next generations; expectant mothers undergo near mandatory screening of their unborn child to screen out potential burdens on society; even teens who are depressed or deficient in any way are encouraged to transition for the sake of society.

    What Dobson envisions as future is closer in Canada than it appears. “Suffering children” are already being euthanized in some European countries and Canadian medical staff have now transitioned 3,714 individuals who average around 73 years of age. The number of assisted deaths, according to Statistics Canada records, has increased by 30% in the past six months. Almost half will die in their own homes.

    The impact of secular humanism, individualism, materialism and utilitarianism in Canada has flooded into our professions so quickly that influential Christian leaders seem to have lost their voice. This is especially true in the medical field. 2400 years ago doctors began taking an oath to abhor killing but this oath seems to be losing its hold on the ethics of a sacred profession.

    Physicians seem like they are being relegated to functioning at the whim of their patients under threat of litigation. Service on demand appears to be the new model. Bureaucrats call the shots, legislators set the moral boundaries, courts enforce the whim of the majority. Trends on abortion and medically assisted suicide are just two examples where the conscientious objection of medical professionals is being ignored.

    Preston Manning, in a 2002 address delivered at the McGill University conference on “Pluralism, Religion and Public Policy”, stated that “people of faith – and there are millions of such people in Canada – need guidelines on how to bring faith perspectives to bear on public policy in a winsome rather than an offensive way. And public policy makers in our pluralistic society – many of whom regard faith perspectives with suspicion if not outright hostility – need to learn how to incorporate such perspectives into their deliberations rather than exclude them.”

    Former president of Canadian Physicians for Life and the chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of British Columbia, Dr. Will Johnston, confirms that the materialistic and reductionistic world views of our society allow for some forms of spirituality as long as the secular religion is given control. He says that when it comes to abortion on demand, for example, “the hierarchy accepts the sacrifice of the unwanted unborn without question. The reason might be about the focus on absolute freedom for the individual, which is impossible unless you ignore other individuals like the baby.”

    On the website consciencelaws.org Sean Murphy states that “Ethical differences between one theory of bioethics and another may be quite as dramatic as doctrinal differences between religions, though, like religions, there are also similarities. Problems for ethical minorities arise when one version of bioethics becomes predominant, and its practitioners attain positions of influence and power in government, academic and professional circles.” This is exactly what we see happening in Canada.

    Doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, hospice administrators, family members, pastors, social workers, counselors, lawyers, judges and many more professions are getting caught up in the sweep of what is happening as people look to medically assisted death as a viable option. The examples of the Hebrew midwives in Egypt, of Daniel and his friends in Babylon, and of the disciples before the Sanhedrin prompt us to “obey God rather than men” – but how does this work out in real life?

    Catholic leaders see birth control and the sexual revolution as the foundational force behind the changes. Johnston says that “the failure rate of the birth control pill far exceeded the unmarried pregnancy rate before the pill was introduced. Unrestricted abortion became desperately necessary for the whole project. There used to be social disapproval of unmarried pregnancy because of its effect on the child and the cost to society of single motherhood. With the reduction of the chance of pregnancy per sexual act the promotion of sex as primarily recreational gained acceptance. On the other hand, the vast increase in unmarried sex guaranteed a huge increase in single motherhood and a huge disadvantage to women who want to marry in a society where men won’t commit.”

    As the world population grew, dialogue turned to view child birth as a form of disease needing to be brought under control. Johnston reflects that “with the rejection of Christianity came a rejection, for many, of some sense of ultimate meaning and permanent existence. The focus is on control, or at least the illusion of it, and power.” He adds that “the uncritical acceptance of death as a way to solve life’s problems became common.”

    Johnston says that “the same unreflective bureaucratic efficiency is happening with euthanasia. The bureaucrats have been galvanized by this issue in a way never applied to the neglected cause of palliative care…. Assumptions from materialistic humanism and utilitarianism have been accepted and any Christians who speak up against the flow put their advancement and possibly their career at risk.”

    As far back as August 2012 Johnston was sounding the heads up as he drew attention to the Carter vs. Canada “Judge-decreed legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada.” Lee Carter, an 88 year old woman, was taken to Switzerland to die. In addition, Gloria Carter, a 64 year old ALS sufferer, drew public attention. Zealous ideologues had their anecdotal foot in the door of a society uncomfortable with pain and suffering.

    Johnston’s point was that in 2008 a final plan had already been crafted by publicly funded euthanasia zealot Jocelyn Downie when she stated that “many individuals whose lives are no longer worth living… have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness. They may be suffering greatly and permanently but are not imminently dying. There is no principled basis for excluding them from assisted suicide.” Her principles are the catechism of secular materialism and follow naturally from the rejection of notions of people made in the image of God and life as sacred.

    In 2016, Johnston wrote in his blog that “sadly, palliative care wards and hospices across Canada are, right now, in a hailstorm of administrative edicts to perform euthanasia inside their walls, in whispering range of those families and patients who had been promised a refuge of care.” He adds in an interview that “when you have people who have an unbalanced focus of life and you combine that with a horror of disability, some high-risk personality types can easily be convinced that they are more in control by orchestrating their own death… There is a delusional expectation of control at the end of life – that you will enhance your control over life by ceasing to exist.”

    Several Christian doctors have chosen to retire rather than face having to refer a patient to someone else for medically assisted death. They also want to avoid conflict with their hospital administrations. Some don’t feel morally compromised through referral but Johnston feels this is short sighted.

    Johnston concludes, “this isn’t only about doctors trying to keep their own integrity. The bigger story is the disenfranchisement of patients who don’t want to be caught in a system with exposure to pro euthanasia expectations and who want their doctor to be free to stay completely away from euthanasia… A Christian leader who accompanies congregants into suicide is problematic. Churches should be sympathetic to any suffering person but should counsel for hope. Christians should make strong statements that they don’t want palliative care hospices used for euthanasia.”

    The medical, social and legislative community have no problems advocating for efficient care of able bodied persons with suicidal depression. It used to be a crime to kill people and offering suicide by doctor, because someone is physically, emotionally, psychologically or mentally disabled, is a dangerous path for our society. Johnston says the general public was gulled into allowing this takeover of the health care system because it was cloaked in the myth of untreatable terminal physical pain and presented as just another option in the palliative toolkit rather than a perversion of the most basic principles of care.

    Now we have abortion on demand and are closing in on suicide on demand. The only demand not being heeded is the voice of Christian professionals conscientiously objecting and refusing to be part of the death culture. To assume that certain professionals function as soldiers without conscience, under the dictates of the state, is a notion designed to kill the very soul of a nation. It is tyranny, not democracy. It is time for the church to speak up on behalf of medical professionals everywhere.

    VALUES: FAITH – PART TWO

    Our insurance company sent us a DVD on “Facing the Risk.” It features a section on the top ten liability risks facing Christian Charities. It also presents an overview of effective abuse prevention strategies for our organization. I mentioned yesterday that part of our value of FAITH at Faith is leaning toward “prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel.” This clearly demands great wisdom in a society where we have examples of people who plunge negligently through clear barriers and boundaries, where others are risk averse, or where some are ignorant or apathetic about risks.

    Today, I want to expand the rest of our statement on Faith. We stated that our value of FAITH:

    Means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will lean toward

    1)prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel

    2)body and soul-stretching outreach initiatives

    3) open-handed and open-hearted efforts of generosity and hospitality

    This last section is challenging. I know we have Paul’s directive in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (NIV)

    So, today, our church planter walked us through an old building which has come available for the next couple of years while the developer awaits permits from city hall. The costs are significant to have a presence on the fringe of an area which says it wants no religious or political presence. The costs of not moving in are also significant as units for 17,000 people are arising as fast as spring flowers from the dirt.

    We sat and dreamed of how we could turn this opportunity into a potential foothold for the gospel in the area. Our values would seem to encourage us to move positively, as wisely as possible, toward taking this step.

    This would be risk-taking to transform and old concrete building into a church/business center; this would be a body and soul-stretching outreach initiative; this would require an open-handed and open-hearted effort of generosity and hospitality to come up with the resources needed. (We would need about $150,000 to cover the next two years – plus some solid volunteer labor to get the place in shape).

    There are many more ways we evidence our FAITH value. We began two daycares, housing for refugees, a partnership with the Vancouver Foodbank, internships, community celebrations and outreaches to street boys and orphans in Uganda. We are looking at innovations in tutoring, youth, language learning and even thinking of bringing a Korean missionary from Korea to help us reach international students.

    All of this demands visionaries, generous givers, strategic thinkers, gutsy leadership and people of faith.

    We’ve seen God bless in drawing representatives from 50 different nations into one family. What more can he do to build his church? How has he gifted you to demonstrate this value of FAITH? Perhaps you might even have a role to play in some of the vision he is drawing out of us.

     

    Values: FAITH -PART ONE

    In Faith’s family we have three key values which we use as a grid to mark the kind of community we would like to see. Today, I asked a newcomer over coffee what he observed about his experience so far at the church. He said, “I’ve been to a lot of churches and it’s different here. It feels like a community. People don’t rush away and they don’t rush by you when the service is done.”

    Yesterday, in our prayer time before the service, another new comer said, “this is the friendliest church I’ve ever been to. You walk into the prayer room and everyone stands up to hug you.”

    I’m not sure if our values are the reason why our community networks with each other, but God seems to be doing something special among us for which we are grateful. Our leadership has something to do with it, our prayer base has something to do with it, but our members are the ones making a difference.

    We say three things about the value of FAITH in our expression of church. We say that FAITH means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will lean toward

    • Prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel;
    • Body and soul-stretching outreach initiatives
    • Open-handed and open-hearted efforts of generosity and hospitality

    FAITH is our confident trust that God is with us as we live out his truth in our contemporary world. We lean toward prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel, meaning that we come before God with a bold confidence to seek his wisdom and his way for divine appointments and significant conversations as we look for bridges in sharing who Jesus is and what he has done in giving his life for us. We share personally on how God has worked in our own life and we share candidly on what he has done in our world.

    We haven’t mastered prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking, individually or as a community. but we are trying to lean in that direction.

    When Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor, was chasing down Christians on his way to Damascus, he met Jesus in a dynamic encounter. He was changed because two people took risks for the sake of the gospel. First, Ananias was prompted by Jesus to place his hands on him and restore Saul’s sight. Ananias responded, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he had done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” (Acts 9:13)

    The risk was real but Jesus told Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

    Twice, Ananias is told “go” just as Jesus tells us to “go” in his great commission. Sometimes a person’s outward persona or reputation holds us back from taking risks. It doesn’t feel safe to share and it seems obvious that this person wouldn’t be interested anyway.

    Saul tried to join the disciples in Damascus by preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. This confused everyone who thought they knew who he was and this led to death threats from his former allies. Saul escaped to Jerusalem and again tried to join the disciples there “but they were afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas too him and brought him to the apostles…”

    Two people showed their faith by taking risks with Saul and this has made all the difference for all of us who read our Bibles and see what Saul (who became the Apostle Paul) wrote for us who live outside the Jewish world.

    How has God helped you lean toward prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking as you share the gospel? How have you witnessed evidences of this in your faith community?

    Vision

    It seems obvious doesn’t it? When you are driving at night you put on your headlights? Why? So you can see where you’re going.

    Mission is about knowing where you are going and vision is about seeing where you are going.

    At Faith, our mission and vision statements are like the headlights on our car. We say we are making disciples of Christ from all nations. Engaging with Jesus, we bring truth, grace and love to all those around us. We say this because Jesus, in Matthew 28:18-20 told us “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

    This short passage provides our headlights.

    We see that there is only one authority who gives us direction. All authority belongs to the risen and living one, to Jesus.

    We see that his direction is clear. As we are going about our everyday life we are to make disciples of all nations. This isn’t a task we accomplish individually but it’s a task we participate in with others from the church. We can’t make disciples of everyone, but we should be making disciples of someone without prejudice as to what nation they come from.

    The words “baptize them” literally mean “to immerse them” in water and so when someone confirms that by grace God has brought them into a right relationship with God through the forgiveness of sins won by the shed blood of Christ on the cross; that they desire to follow Jesus as revealed in the Scripture; that they desire to join with his people in a community of faith, hope and love – then we celebrate their new life in an immersion during one of our services where all can witness God’s goodness.

    We also see that a disciple is a lifelong learner who must be taught to obey everything Jesus commands. In humility, we recognize that we are all life-long learners in a relationship where we are teaching and growing at the same time. We recognize that our life as part of a faith community now impacts others and we are careful to protect the values and truths Jesus teaches us.

    We see that Jesus promises to always be with us. This gives us great confidence and hope in our gatherings, in our small groups, in our mentoring. We don’t walk alone.

    We see finally that this age will end and therefore our time for making disciples is limited. We ask God for divine appointments and for significant conversations with those he brings into our social circle and then we alertly watch, pray and share.

    One day, we will stand with countless others from every tribe and tongue and nation around the throne of Jesus to celebrate his victory over death and sin. Until then, we want a taste of heaven by making disciples of Christ from all nations who God brings our way.

    Who has God placed in your social circle so that you can learn with? What steps in relationship building are you taking so that trust is being established? When is the last time you shared your own testimony of God’s grace in your life?

    Is this mission and vision of discipleship clear for you?

    Can Different Generations Really Come Together as One?

    It’s no secret that while building up a church family with multi-generations is the dream of most congregations that this is more challenging than it seems. Different generations have different soul language with the music they respond to; they have different heart language in what they feel committed to with their time and resources; they have different body language in terms of how they build relationship and share their lives.

    Sociologists might label the four key generations as Builders, Boomers, Gen Xers and Millenials. Each has been shaped by different backgrounds, different times, different perceptions of their culture and different experiences of faith. Perceptions , actions and reactions to what is happening will vary. How do you build unity in the middle of so much chronological diversity?

    Loving your different generation neighbor often involves first building a relationship – taking an interest to show you care by listening, asking insightful questions, praying for and supporting in practical ways. Our seniors would love to have someone sit with them over tea and ask them to share their experiences. There needs to be verbal expressions of respect for their experience and wisdom. They can make great mentors.

    Liz Selzer, in her book 3D Mentoring (p. 122) says “People need to see each other as competent, authentic, able to create meaningful connections, accountable, and dependable. “ They need to find their voices in three ways: by building a learning culture where everyone’s strengths are celebrated and appreciated; give opportunities for all to participate in a way where it is safe to take risks and fail; establish a forum where everyone’s voice gets heard and encourage everyone’s contribution.

    This kind of culture happens one on one as we intentionally sit with each other and listen to each other. There is a God story in the life I am facing and preparing myself to hear it and appreciate it changes my whole attitude toward what God has done and what He is still doing.

    Which generation can you expand your heart toward? How will you do that?

    Don’t You Love It?

    On the verge of Valentine’s Day the flowers are filling the shops and cards and chocolates are finding their way into grocery bags. Does giving a special gift one or two days a year make up for everything else we do or don’t do the rest of the year?

    Okay, I don’t live your life and I don’t know what you deal with. Gifts may not be your love language.

    At Faith we’re talking a lot about Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages.” A short workshop with our Daycare staff left them wanting more. A few of our couples, staff and friends have been able to connect a little better when they found out the hidden secrets that a hug, a note, an act of service, a gift, or a little bit of time could make in someone else’s life.

    The image we are given is of something called a love tank. Imagine a water tank for something concrete to get hold of this. When we speak our love language to another or when they speak our love language to us we are filled up. When others act or speak in conflict with our love language it is like a puncture wound in that tank which then drains us. Healing can take time so taking care from the start of a relationship is important. We’re not all as together and strong and resilient as we look on the outside.

    We’ve been calling the whole family at Faith to think a little more intentionally about the relationships in their social circle. A love language is a channel through which you communicate your love for another and through which you receive love to maximum impact. Chapman lists the five mentioned earlier.

    The key to effective communication with love languages is to discern what another person’s love language is and to speak to them in the way that they best appreciate. In order to discern watch how they attempt to show you they care and try responding in kind.

    Several of us discovered to our great surprise that some of our quiet leaders had the love language of touch. More than anything, a hug upon greeting meant the world to them. Others of our leaders could last a week when a card with encouraging words was put into their hand – or a two minute phone call of appreciation was shared.

    A few long for others to stop for a few moments and spend some quality time just being with us in our space. They could get gifts, notes, calls and all kinds of good deeds sent their way but it wouldn’t have the same impact.

    Acts of service are key ways that some of our volunteers show they love. Faithfully completing the tasks behind the scenes is their way of communicating as clearly as they can. You’ll see some of these big hearts in hospitality or other hidden ministries.

    But for some – gifts are what it’s all about. Valentine’s Day or any day is a good day to give a gift and to get a gift. Watch who is giving you the gift when they have no real reason to do so. That person may be giving you a hint.

    Do you know your love language? Maybe you’re fluent in all five or maybe you’re working hard to learn another one to communicate with someone you know. If you don’t know someone’s love language check it out on line and start making a difference right where you are.

    Start where you are

    The great British author (Oxford and Cambridge professor), C.S. Lewis once said that “you can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

    C.S. Lewis started his professional career as an atheist. He ended his life as a follower of Jesus. He was actually raised as an Anglican and embraced atheism in his teens. Few people remember why he returned to a true faith in 1929. One man made the difference. The man was George Macdonald – a writer of fantasy. C.S. Lewis was fascinated by the “quality of cheerfulness” which convinced him that righteousness was not a dull thing.

    C.S. Lewis absorbed all he could learn from his spiritual teacher and then started producing classics which young believers still thrive on. Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, The Abolition of Man, The Allegory of Love and The Discarded Image take people into deep thought on the Christian Faith.

    Lewis is better known by some of us for his Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, and the Great Divorce. Others served to probe deeply into our human soul and to free our minds to consider the truths of our relationship with God.

    My focus today is on the importance of mentoring. I was approached after our Sunday service by one of our new believers who rightly said, “Isn’t there someone I can meet with regularly to grow spiritually? I don’t want to just keep all my learning to Sundays. I want to ask questions and understand and expand what I know.”

    Perhaps there are others, like C.S. Lewis, waiting for a friend, mentor, teacher, to come alongside them and show them the great things of God in creative and gracious ways. I encourage you to consider passing on what you know to someone younger in the faith. The ideal is that you are learning from someone more mature in the faith while at the same time you are passing on what you know to someone younger in the faith. This vital intergenerational sharing of the good news brings vitality to the body of Christ.

    C.S. Lewis was wounded fighting the Germans in 1918. He married Joy Gresham (a converted American) while she was facing the challenges of cancer. He died on the same day as President John F. Kennedy. Not much of this is remembered. It is his writings from a place of deep faith which set him apart. And it is his forgotten mentor which wooed him into the deep faith that made a difference for so many others.

    What keeps you from stepping into the role of learning or teaching? Who can you look to in the body of Christ as someone you can connect with?