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Sunday
Jul262015

Give Your Worries to God

Tom Harbour

Tom Harbour

Counselling Pastor

Singer/songwriter Dustin Kensrue wrote the following lyrics in his song ”Beggars”:

All you great men of power, you who boast of your feats—politicians and entrepreneurs.
Can you safeguard your breath in the night while you sleep?
Keep your heart beating steady and sure?
 
As you lie in your bed, does the thought haunt your head
That you’re really, rather small?
If there’s one thing I know in this life: we are beggars all.

Can you hear what’s been said?
Can you see now that everything’s grace after all?
If there’s one thing I know in this life: we are beggars all.
 

This song has a lot to do with the idea of control, or lack thereof. In many ways, control is a good thing, when it has to do with what we can and should be responsible for—our roles as family members, how we act as employees—anything to do with personal responsibility. But oftentimes, we also want to be in charge of what we ultimately have no control over—things like health, the spiritual conditions of others, world events, and so forth. In that regard, it is the words of Jesus that lead us towards a balanced view.

In the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 6, Jesus says:

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Today’s trouble is enough for today. Live in peace, giving your worries and concerns to God.

Sunday
Jul192015

Thoughts on Sadness

Tom Harbour

Tom Harbour

Counselling Pastor

In what I’ve been reading and watching lately, the idea or role of sadness as a necessary part of life has been repeated often. As North Americans, we tend to only want happy, easy times, but a quick look through the Bible shows that this is not the norm. In discussing Elijah, Pastor Cal intonated this idea in last week’s sermon. His quote, “a calm sea does not produce a skilled sailor”, speaks to the idea of embracing hardships, or down times, to experience growth, and to live a more rounded life.

So too does the newest Pixar movie, Inside Out. In it the protagonist, 11-year old Riley, has to deal with her life being uprooted with a move away from the home she’s always known. As viewers, we don’t just see her reactions from outside, but we see how she’s interpreting life from the “control centre” inside her mind where Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness interact in helping Riley navigate a new city, house, and school. As much as Joy tries to keep a positive spin on Riley’s interpretation of the upheaval, she finally realizes there is a valid place and time for the other emotions, especially Sadness, to come to the fore for a deeper, richer, more rounded way of understanding her circumstances.

Finally, Shauna Niequest’s book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way has informed a lot of my thoughts on joy and sadness. Two key quotations:

  • Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness. Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands
  • When Life is well say THANK YOU & CELEBRATE, and when life is bitter say THANK YOU & GROW.

Celebrate well, and grow well!

Sunday
Jul122015

Simple, Not Easy

Jeremy Bukowsky

Summer Intern

Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Jesus summed up the entire Law into two commandments: “Love God, love people.” It’s simple! But that doesn’t make it easy. It’s easy to love God when life is going well. But when life gets difficult, when you have financial troubles, or a loved one gets sick, it’s hard to love God. It’s easy to love people when they love you. But when that person cuts you off, or you get in an argument with that coworker again, or a loved one betrays you, it becomes very hard to love people. 

I want you to remember this when it gets hard to love God and people: “God loves you.” 

Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While you were a sinner, God loved you so much that he sent his Son to die on a cross for you in order to save you. 

You who are married would die for your spouse, right? You love them and they love you. But would you die in order to save the life of that family member who betrayed you? Or some one who wants to hurt you? I highly doubt it. But that is exactly what Jesus did for you. 

Remember that you were an enemy of God, but Jesus died to save you and everyone else. Now you are a child of God, free from sin and guilt, and in a relationship with the Creator of the universe, all because he loves you. My prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit would remind you of God’s radical love for you, and that his love would transform your heart. 

When we realize the magnitude of what God did to save us and how big his love is for us, we can’t help but respond in love toward him and others.

Sunday
Jun212015

Three Things

Jeff Bjorgan

Lead Pastor

A very happy Father’s day to all the fathers in our midst.  May God bless you with the courage to wear your dad hat well.  It’s not easy being a dad!  My prayer is that this morning will encourage and inspire you to remember that you’re not on this journey alone; your heavenly father is backing you up and is available to give you strength and wisdom.  Be at peace!  Your children teach you a lot about your relationship with God.

We continue to find creative ways to fill out our team here at Emmanuel, and I am very pleased to welcome Leah Johnston onto our staff as our part-time Children’s Ministry Director.  She will be responsible for children’s ministry as a whole at Emmanuel, including Sunday morning programs and mid-week initiatives.  We haven’t hired someone to oversee our children’s ministry before and I’m excited about the possibilities of new initiatives.  Leah grew up in a pastor’s home and understands church culture.  She has been involved in youth and children’s ministry at the church for years, as well as been involved in volunteer capacities at one of our local schools.  Like all of the staff members we’re hiring, Leah has a “holy discontent” when it comes to the church: she holds to the belief that when you catch us at our best, we’re seeing beyond ourselves as an organization and are dedicated to community connections.  Leah is married to Steve and they have two children.  As this is a new position, please grant Leah grace as she works her way through the learning curve and researches best approaches to children’s ministry.  Give her a high five when next you see her... just before you then take a pen and sign up to volunteer for one of the important ministries that she now oversees.

Finally, a shout out to Dave and Peggy Gowing, who have tirelessly embraced a vision of having barbeques after the service for five weeks in a row.  Each Sunday they have set up barbeques and tables, cooked a mixture of hotdogs, hamburgers, and eyebrows, and did it all with enthusiasm and without complaint.  On this last Sunday of barbeques, please make a point to personally thank them for their hard work.

Sunday
Jun142015

Peachland Community Church

Jeff Bjorgan

Lead Pastor

We have received a few questions about where our Peachland Campus is at, so I thought I would share with you what has been happening there over the last few months.  Back in February, we announced that the Peachland campus voted in favour of moving towards autonomy, which means working towards becoming an independent church.  This would mean they would hire their own pastor, develop their own vision, and look after their own finances, as well as move their affiliation from being a part of Emmanuel to simply being a sister church in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

We have blessed them in this decision and obviously want them to transition well, and so we are walking alongside them in transition, helping to organize their financial records, helping with some administration and supplies, and helping with other aspects of the process as much as possible.

At this point, Peachland has changed back to being called Peachland Community Church (PCC).  They have been meeting in the Anglican church in Peachland on Sunday afternoons at 3 pm over the last few Sundays.  They have developed a board which has in turn hired David Laity as their interim pastor to help them navigate through the transition.  David and Teresa Laity have been attending Emmanuel for a couple years and I believe they will be a great resource to PCC with their breadth of pastoral experience.

I am very pleased with how the transition has been going.  Although we will always have a deep relationship with PCC, I believe in churches that are rooted in their communities with a specific vision for the people in their neighbourhood.  Please pray, then, for PCC as they work through the process of autonomy, that at the end of the day, we’ll see a healthy, vibrant, independent sister-church in Peachland.