Pastor Deven | The Gratitude Project | FRIDAY june 5, 2020
I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
I am inviting you to be grateful - to be thankful.
Wait. Thankful? During a pandemic? In a time filled with financial uncertainty? With the stress of social isolation and physical distancing? With so much unknown about our future?
As a church, our emphasis from June 1-14 is going to be gratitude and thankfulness. I want to invite you to be grateful, to reflect on God’s goodness in your life, and to take some concrete steps to help you think carefully about just how much you have for which to be grateful. With this in mind, we have created ‘The Gratitude Project’ which you will find in this packet. It includes some fun and engaging projects and challenges for you and your family centered around gratitude.
In the letter to the Colossians, The Apostle Paul writes,
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17)
Over and over, the bible commands believers to be grateful. Why is this? Why, of all of the emotions and feelings we encounter, is thankfulness so important? What makes thankfulness so central to the Christian life? Because it disrupts our natural, self-focused perspective on life. It’s human nature to compare, to covet, to look at what others have and imagine that, somehow, we’re missing out. The practice of gratitude reminds us, shifts us, stirs us, to turn away from what we’re missing out on, and enjoy that which we have.
Regardless of how much you want to complain, or how dark your life looks right now, if you started making a list of all that you can be thankful for, I bet you’d be amazed. Day by day, in small ways and in big ways, we have much to be grateful for. So, for each day from June 1-14, use your Gratitude Journal to write down one thing for which you are grateful.
But what about the exception? What if your life feels like it’s just crumbling? What if you feel no hope and your dreams are being crushed? What if you’re like Job in the bible and everything that could go wrong is wrong? Can you still be grateful? Can you still be obedient to God’s command?
This is the great hope of the gospel. No matter what we walk through, what pain, hardship, health struggle, depression, fear, or dark valley through which we wade, one reality is settled. One reality remains uncompromisingly true, real, and enough to make your heart sing for all eternity.
That reality is this: Jesus Christ loves you and gave himself for you (Galatians 2:20).
Even when your life is crumbling, you can be thankful because you have received affection, attention, and mercy from the King of Kings.
Even when you feel like everyone else is getting ahead and you are stuck, you can be thankful because Jesus is working to prepare a future for you that is greater than anything you can imagine. So be grateful.
When your body fails, you can still be thankful. Jesus will resurrect you and give you new life. It won’t always be this way.
When your mental health is failing, you can still be thankful. Jesus’ love, care, and hold on you are not determined by your present state, but by his faithfulness. It won’t always be this way.
When your finances are being rocked, be thankful. Jesus is rich and you’re a co-heir with him. You have an inheritance waiting for you in heaven. You won’t always be poor!
I could go on and on. Why? Because there is no end to the good, incredible, and eternally-wonderful reality that Jesus has for those who trust him.
Join us in exercising gratitude this coming month.
This fall, we launched a new vision and mission: Summerside Exists to Develop Everyday Disciples who make Disciples Every Day. This means that the emphasis and priority is placed on developing our people, seeing them equipped, and then seeing them use their gifts to serve God however he leads. We’re here with the purpose of investing in and partnering with you as you follow Christ.
To help our people grow, we’ve launched some new ministries (rebranding Connections 1 to SummersideEXPLORE; Establishing SummersideFOUNDATIONS) and have some exciting plans for the New Year. This Sunday, I will be revealing an exciting initiative for 2020 that will help our people, extend our reach, and increase our impact. Come Sunday and look out for an email from the church office.
As we look into our bright future, we recognize the need to end 2019 in a healthy financial place. We want to end the year “making budget”. Now, I know – making budget doesn’t sound that exciting, but it is. Why? Because our budget represents our ministry top to bottom.
Staff that lead, train, and care; ministries (kids, youth, seniors, men’s and women’s); resources (books, handouts); building costs and maintenance – all of this costs money. More importantly, giving is a spiritual discipline and part of what it means to be an Everyday Disciple. This is an area in which we want to see you grow and develop.
Presently, we require $81,000 in the month of December to continue our ministry and be ready for 2020. This is around $25,000 above what we need in any one month. Would you consider giving above your regular offering to ensure we end 2019 in a healthy place?
If you call Summerside home, join with us in prayer for our finances, for our Christmas season outreach, and for our continued growth and dependence on God.
You can give via:
- Sunday offering
- Website: https://www.summersidechurch.ca/giving/
- NEW: Send an E-Transfer to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tithely App
For Christ our King,
What’s Not In Our New Mission and Vision?
I’ve had a few people ask, so I thought I’d write and address what is not in our mission statement. No mission statement can cover everything. A mission statement in a church is usually just a catchy way for a group of people to clarify their language and keep focused on the Great Commission.
Our new mission is pretty simple:
We are Everyday Disciples who make Disciples Every Day
Our Values, likewise, are pretty straight forward:
- We are Disciple Makers
- We are a Family
- We are Great Neighbours
- We are Bold In Christ
Now, I get it. There’s lots that’s not here. What’s not included? Well, let me offer a few things that aren’t included:
- The importance of global missions
- The authority of God’s Word
- The role of prayer
- The significance of worship
Could those have been included? Well yes, sure. But really, there is no end to what we could have included. For example, isn’t it true that all Biblical churches would be committed to, not only the above, but also
o The sanctity of life
o The importance of giving to your local church
o The essential role the Holy Spirit plays in the church
o The biological distinctions of men and women
o A proper and biblical understanding of marriage
You get my point? There are literally 1000 items that could have been included. So, just because something that you are passionate about wasn’t mentioned by name, it doesn’t mean it’s not important.
You see, it’s all about how you understand the word “Disciple”. As I explained on the infographic (and as we’ll be studying this over the next number of months through our sermon series), a Disciple is someone who follows Christ and submits to him in all things.
A Disciple, then, is someone who is:
o Passionate about missions
o Submits to the authority of God’s Word
o Is active in prayer
o Passionate about worship
o Works in whatever ways they are able, to protect life
o Gives to their local church
o Understands and relies on the Spirit of God
You get my drift?
Everything hinges on how you understand the word “Disciple”. If a Disciple is just a word that we take and twist however we want, then it has no particular meaning and we would need a bunch of qualifiers and deeper explanations about all of these extra areas.
If, however, we look at Jesus’ words about what it means to be a Disciple, we’ll see that all of life – every inch of our existence – is to be submitted to him. So, rather than making our mission statement hundreds of pages long and including everything, we kept it simple because, really, there is no end to what Jesus requires of us.
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Luke 14:25-26 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”
So, what kind of people are we looking to develop? Disciples! Those who love Jesus and love their neighbour enough to share the gospel with them. If you’re still wondering, check out the HEAD/HEART/HANDS section on the infographic. That may help.
All we do, we do in submission to the Risen Lord. He is our Great High Priest; our Good Shepherd; our King and Rescuer. Disciples submit to and follow their teacher. I’m excited about doing that together.
For Christ our King,
Pastor Deven K MacDonald
As you can see, we’ve been working over the past month to improve the look and up-keep of our building. We’re called to steward whatever God’s gives us, and that includes the building. We’ve been working on drywall (thanks Jim St. Antoine), and we finally have the waterfall up and working (thanks Ron Harris and Blair Greiss). I’ve seen people cleaning the kitchen, and working to ensure our facilities are bright, clean, and functional. I am so thankful to everyone who serves and helps us out. On the outside of the building, I’ve seen Fred Lukianow and Ian Houghton hard at work keeping the grounds fresh. It’s looking great.
I want to continue to encourage you to serve as God enables you, and to give so that we can continue to make Summerside a place where people feel comfortable and are free from distraction or eye-sores. We’ve got a bunch of projects coming up, so please keep an eye out for ways that you can serve.
It’s just a building, but we want to make it a positive and pleasant place for people to come. Why? So that they can hear about Jesus. That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we want to keep our property looking good! Thanks for making this happen.
I think we need to rethink our language.
What comes to mind when you think of the word, “volunteer”? Maybe it’s someone who helps out here and there or something that you begrudgingly commit to do for a brief period? Maybe it’s an obligation that, if you’re honest, you’re not too thrilled about?
In a church, there’s a bit of a problem with using the word “volunteer”. It’s not that it’s a bad word, or without its usefulness, but I think it’s too small of a word. I think we need to rethink our language.
If I volunteer for something, it’s really something of which, in the end, I can opt out. It’s too often something that I feel guilted into. Something I’m not really excited about.
On Tuesday, June 25, we’re having our first ever Gratitude Gala (if you serve – sign up!). But it’s not really designed to thank our volunteers, per se. It’s designed to recognized and thank you – those who serve, give, and minister alongside of us. We want to celebrate the work God is doing through you and in you.
A church is not a group of staff and pastors who are helped by volunteers. It’s a family that serves as God leads. This is a big difference. At Summerside, do you see yourself as a volunteer or as a ministry partner? Do you see yourself as someone who begrudgingly helps out here and there, or as someone who is called to use your gifts to point people to Jesus?
So, what do I propose? Well, I won’t jump on you and correct you if you use the word “volunteer” – and I can’t promise I won’t ever slip up and use the word myself. But I think it’s more helpful to understand the work you do here as a calling, as a sacred honor, or as joy-filled partnership for the sake of the gospel.
God has you here for a reason. The bible teaches that God is the one who builds and unites a church as a family. Each family is given specific, spiritual gifts to help it glorify God and do the work he has commanded (Romans 12:4-6; 1 Peter 4:10). Each church is called together (the Greek word for church – ekklesia¬ means exactly that – “the called ones,” “the gathered” – the congregation). A beautiful metaphor the bible uses for the church is the human body, wherein head (Christ) leads all the parts to work for his glory (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:24-27)
As we celebrate you, I invite you. I invite you to reconsider your heart, posture, and thinking about your role here. Let me encourage you - you’re not just a volunteer, helping how you can. You are a called people, a gifted people, and co-laborers with me in the gospel. God has you here on purpose. Our church is better off with you serving, loving, and leading how God designed.
You’re not just a volunteer, you’re a partner. You have a calling. You’re a part of the body, here for a reason. You’re an integral part of the mission God is working out here. You’re not merely a volunteer – you’re a servant.
It’s time to rethink our language.
Where do you turn when you hit a wall? When you’re tired, frustrated, angry, lonely - where do you look for comfort? Whether it’s binging on Netflix or online shopping, turning to alcohol or porn, abusing food or pills, there is never a shortage of places to turn for some semblance of peace and rest.
For those who are followers of Christ, there is a greater and more glorious place to turn - to God himself. Look at how the Psalmist puts it:
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
Here, Asaph, the writer of twelve Psalms, explains that in his pain and struggle, and through his distress and hardship, he refused to be comforted by anything less than God himself. He refuses comfort – the soul-numbing escape that we crave and waits for God alone. Here’s the point – to find true rest, nothing less than God will do.
Throughout the rest of the Psalm, Asaph points his heart (and us) to God in worship.
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
Nothing less than a holy, great, miracle-working, worship-receiving, powerful, mighty, redeeming God can satisfy our souls and give us the comfort and rest we so desire.
So, think with me. When you hit the wall, when you are like the Psalmist and in distress, where do you turn for comfort? Nothing less than God will do! Don’t go elsewhere. Don’t give yourself to lesser things – God has made himself present to us through his Son, Jesus. Jesus purchased our redemption through his death so that we could enjoy him, know him, and find comfort in him. He invites the tired, the weak to “come to [him], all that are weary and in need of rest … and you will find rest for your soul.” (Matthew 11:28-29).
Nothing less than God will do. So, find comfort in nothing less than God.
Hey, Summerside. We are engaging in a month-long emphasis on prayer until May 8. Our focus is Renewing our Dependence on God.
How You Can Be Involved:
- Use the suggestions in the worship guide to help guide your personal prayer time every day
- Choose to fast for 24hrs. from Tuesday after supper to Wednesday supper. If that time doesn’t work for you, choose another day during the week. (Check your mailbox/website for more info)
- Join others at the front of the auditorium 10 minutes before the service to pray for the service
- Arrive 5 minutes early to spend time in prayer on your own before the service begins
Wednesday Prayer Meetings
- Participate in one (or both) of the prayer meetings planned for Wednesdays at church
Here is the Focus for Each Week:
- April 10: Prayer for our Individual Lives - Asking God to change us
- April 17: Prayer for our Leaders - Asking God for wisdom and discernment
- April 24: Prayer for our Church - Asking God to empower our ministry
- May 1: Prayer for our City - Asking God to move in our city & churches
- May 8: Prayer for our Missionaries - Asking God to change our world
Today, we want to inform you of an exciting new resource we want to use as a church. We are putting before you a Spiritual Formation Assessment that is designed to help measure the spiritual health of our church. Beyond basic demographic questions, this survey investigates our walk with the Lord. It asks questions about how we view our relationships with others both in the church and outside the church. It will also help us assess how we view the spiritual gifts the Lord has given us. As leaders, we believe a survey like this will help us as we begin to plan and think about the future of our church. There are two requests we have of you.
First, please take the survey. Our goal is to have as many people as possible take this assessment. There are two ways in which you can do this. You can take the survey online by following the link that was in our e-newsletter of March 29. If you prefer a paper copy, some are available in the foyer on the desk by the main auditorium doors. Please return your completed paper survey to the basket provided. In case you are wondering, the survey should take less than ten minutes to complete. We desire to collect all the surveys by April 14, 2019.
Second, please be honest. This survey is anonymous for a reason; you can be completely transparent. We are not looking for what you think we want your answers to be. We are not even looking for what you hope your answers would be. We want your answers to reflect your life as it is today.
With your honest feedback, we will be able to get a more accurate pulse on the spiritual health of our church. Of course, a survey like this is not perfect; but it should give us a baseline that will catapult our thinking for future ministry.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this survey.
Everything for Christ!
Summerside Community Church Elders
Whatever you’re walking through right now - whatever hardship, pain, or struggle you’re facing, it’s not eternal – it’s momentary.
Think about that.
The depression that keeps you down? It’s not eternal.
The infertility that haunts you? The pain is not eternal.
The boss that makes your life difficult? That’s not eternal.
The cancer? The back problems? The financial instability? The broken relationships? None of these will be with you 1000 years from now. All this pain is actually momentary. And this is good news!
In Isaiah chapter 65, the writer points us to the day when Jesus returns and makes all things new (65:17-25). Later, at the closing of the New Testament, the Apostle John presents a more complete vision of what we can expect when the curse of the fall is reversed; when Satan is fully, finally, and completely defeated; when pain, evil, and sin are done away with (Revelation 21).
What God has instore for his children in the New Heavens and New Earth is greater than we could ever dream. Not only will we see and know God in a more profound and complete way, but we’ll also be free from the pain of this life.
If you’re a follower of Christ, seal this truth into your heart. We know God is with us in our struggles, we know that he is faithful to the end, but we can also rejoice in knowing that our struggles are not eternal, that someday we’ll find rest from all that plagues us. God’s not going to allow pain and struggle to rule forever. Through Jesus, he is recreating the world to the way it was meant to be.
Paul offers this encouragement to help us shift our perspective:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
We can suffer well because we know that our troubles are not going to last. They are momentary.
1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Every Sunday, I sit in the front row of our auditorium. The reason I do this is so that I can hear you sing to Jesus. I’m moved deeply when I hear God’s people singing out about the beauty and glory of Jesus and all that he’s done. As much as I enjoy hearing you sing, I know I’m the not the target audience!
Our worship on Sunday is not primarily singing songs about God, it’s singing songs to God. Think about that. There is a difference between the two. Of course, part of what we do is to sing about God. Our songs are designed to teach, instruct, and encourage one another in the truth of the Bible. But, primarily, God, alone, is the audience and the one to whom we sing. It’s to him that we praise, that we lift up, and that we sing.
Think about it this way: Can you imagine if Jesus appeared before you when you were sitting down to pray or read your bible? How do you think you would you respond? If you are his follower, forgiven and made new, you’d likely want to fall down and worship. So, apply that to our worship music. Jesus is present when we worship. He hears our words, knows our hearts, and welcomes us to sing to him.
Therefore, let’s apply this. If our singing is directed to God, then who cares what other people think of you when you worship. The focus is not your vocal abilities, your physical expressions (lifting hands, closing eyes, dancing in joy), whether you’re sitting, standing, or kneeling in prayer – the focus is God himself.
My hope is that, every Sunday when we gather, God is pleased with our praise. My prayer is that we come together and sing to God proclaiming his great power, beauty, and majesty. My desire for us as a family is that we don’t just sing about God, but sing to him as we reflect on all that he’s done.
There are a few items that I wanted to update you on:
Roof - As many of you may know, we’ve been experiencing significant leaking between the foyer and swing. This week, we hired some roofers to come in and to, hopefully, address the issues once and for all. This will be paid from the money currently in the building fund.. We hope to be able to repair the drywall and repaint damaged areas once we’re confident the leaking has been stopped.
Basement Renovation - We continue to make progress on the basement renovation. The flooring is delivered, walls are installed, and we are mudding and fixing them. The ordering of new furniture is being discussed and priced out. This room will, mostly, be used for our youth and Sunday programs. The entire downstairs area may serve as functional spaces for various other ministries as we want to turn this into a more functional and friendly space.
North of 60 - This is the new name of our seniors’ ministry. North of 60 exists to help older adults experience and live out the Gospel in every area of life.
Summer Camps - I am so excited about our Summer Kids Camp in 2019. I am praying that this is the greatest Kids Camp that we’ve done to date! As new families move into our community, summer camp is a great way to see them connected.
3250 PD Day Camp: April 5th 9am - 3:30pm (Grades 3-5)
Kids Camp: July 8th-11th Entering SK - Grade 2 (9am-12pm) Grade 3 - Grade 5 (9am - 3:30pm)
Is God calling you to serve and help out this summer? Contact the church office to see how you can serve. Even If you aren’t available, please be praying that God would work in our workers and in our campers.
Prayer Items Coming Up:
1. Pastor Deven is heading out of the country for a week after this Sunday’s service. Please be praying for his safety and that God would work in him through this.
2. Pray for our sports ministries/teams/outreaches. We run Armour Hockey on Saturdays. We have various hockey teams that play on Friday nights. We have soccer and softball teams throughout the year … pray that these would be used to reach people with the gospel of Jesus!
I can’t count the number of times around my house that I hear the words, “Dad, look at this!” I hear this, or some variation, over and over. Think about it, what is it that my kids are asking me? It’s more than just, “Dad, do you notice what I’ve done”. It’s a question about visibility, about meaning, and about value. In essence, I’m being asked, “Dad, do you see me?”. And, more than just sight, it’s a longing to not just be seen, but to be validated.
We’ve all been in places where we’ve been ignored, marginalized, or simply gone unnoticed. It doesn’t take us long to figure out when a conversation partner isn’t really that into the dialogue. Often, they look around, look elsewhere, or just fail to make eye contact. More likely than not, this kind of hurts.
The act of being seen, of being truly noticed, is a basic human reality. Throughout history, parents have given their children their names to carry. Warriors have fought for prestige – for renown. Builders and architects erected structure that outlast even their memory. Writers and poets put their ink to paper, painters paint, seeking to immortalize, not only their work, bu, often their names, for the generations that come.
We want to be seen. We dread being forgotten. Perhaps one of the worst emotions a person can experience is abject loneliness. To feel unseen and forgotten. This is painfully obvious for us today in the digital age, but it’s also true of the Ancients who lived long ago.
Genesis 15-17 records the account of Abram (better known as Abraham) and Sarai (better known as Sarah) and their futile attempts at fulfilling the promise God had given them. The gracious Lord made an oath to Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son; and that, through that son, the world would be blessed, the family tree would grow immensely, and that a significant area of land was going to be gifted to Abraham’s descendants. But, the problem was, Abraham and Sarah were old. Real old. Rather than walking by faith and trusting God’s Word, they came up with a “solution”.
Sarah had a handmaid, a servant, named Hagar. Sarah asked Abraham if he’d like to try having a son through Hagar. Abraham, apparently from what we read, didn’t have to think very long before taking his wife up on this offer.
Hagar became pregnant. The “solution” worked. But, like all folly, eventually the consequences came to bear. Sarah becomes increasingly antagonistic and harsh with Hagar. Eventually, Hagar is dealt with so harshly that she runs away (Gen 16:1-6).
Eventually, after fleeing into the desert, Hagar collapsed by a stream. She was pregnant and alone in a brutal world. Her future, and that of the baby’s, are grim. She is alone, unseen, and unnoticed.
But there is One who sees.
God sent an angel. The angel of the Lord explains that God is going to protect her and the baby. The angel promises that her son will become a great nation “too numerous to count”. After Hagar is told by the angel to return to Sarah, she proclaims a beautiful truth that still resonates with our hearts today:
“You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Hagar, through her suffering and pain, came to this incredible realization: She wasn’t alone. She wasn’tunseen. She wasn’t invisible. There is one who sees – the Lord. When no one else was there, when she had all but lost hope, there was one who did see her. His name is the Lord.
This same Lord - revealed in Jesus in the New Testament - continues to see. We are his sheep and he is the Good Shepherd. Jesus explains to his friends and followers that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and that he calls to them by name. This Good Shepherd looks out at his flock and notices if even one of out a hundred has gone away. This Good Shepherd seeks out the one lost sheep and brings it home. The Good Shepherd continues to see.
Wherever you’re at right now – struggling with loneliness, looking for meaning, searching for validation, there is one who sees you, knows you, and (amazingly) still loves you.
There is one who sees. He sees you now.
One of the practices that followers of Christ are to be known for is praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I want to encourage you this week to take some time and pray for our church family and for God’s continued blessings.
Pray for your leaders:
- Pray for me! I need it. Pray for God’s wisdom (James 1:5); for God’s blessing on my preaching; and pray that God would continue to work in me to mold me into the image of his Son.
Pray for our staff:
- Our staff work tirelessly to provide leadership and guidance to our church. Pray that God would use them; bless their ministries; and strengthen them to lead well.
- For your elders. We need God’s wisdom! We also want to be walking in tune with the Holy Spirit as we seek to lead.
Pray for those who are facing health struggles:
- In our Worship Guides, you can see a number of prayer requests listed. Keep an eye on these and pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pray for God to move:
- At the end of the day, nothing that we do will have any eternal impact without God moving. We can’t do anything without him, so please pray that God would move in his people and through his people.
- Pray that God would draw people to himself; open their eyes to the beauty of Jesus; and grant them salvation!
Summerside, if you have a prayer request, please let the staff and elders know. You can do this by filling out a Connections Card on a Sunday and handing it to anyone with a lanyard. You can also share your prayer requests through our website: https://www.summersidechurch.ca/contact/
If you are talking with someone on a Sunday (or throughout the week) and they share their pain with you, why not pray for them then and there? If you say you’re going to pray for someone, why not do it right then and there (and also later)?
For Christ our King,
One of the things I love to do over the holidays is enjoy down time. This week my wife and I are house sitting and more than once I’ve found myself sitting in my pajamas, sipping coffee and reading. Over the past few days, I’ve been working through the book of Proverbs and the Gospel of Matthew. One theme that I keep coming across is the importance of the heart.
In Matthew 15:1-20, Jesus is interacting with the Pharisees – the religious leaders of the day. He is frustrated with their hard hearts and their obsession with “looking good” when in reality their hearts are far from God. They focused on the outside and neglected the inside. In this passage he’s fighting with the Pharisees about the ritual washing of hands before meals. Jesus doesn’t put up with their hypocrisy because he knows that the real issue, the most important thing, is the heart. By “heart” he’s not talking about the blood pumping organ in our chest. He’s talking about the seat of our will, emotions, and personhood.
Jesus explains: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). We tend to focus on the outward actions and behaviors because these are often easy to identify and notice. But the real, deeper issue is the heart underneath these actions and behaviours. If we clean up the outside but neglect the inside – our hearts – we’re never going to experience real growth. That’s why the wise sage explains to his son: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
How can 2019 be a year that you “guard” your heart? Not by focusing on the outside, but by focusing on Christ. Our hearts always gravitate towards what we love the most. As followers of Christ, our focus should be on increasing our love and joy in Jesus. We do that through knowing and seeing him. We grow in our knowledge, and we see him most fully when meditate on his Word and allow his glory, revealed in the cross and resurrection, to be the focus of our hearts. We guard our hearts by finding joy in the glory of God.
Enjoy 2019 and guard your heart.
I hope that you all had a great Christmas. Our entire family caught the flu-bug making it a rough week. Somehow, thanks to God’s grace and your prayers, I was still able to speak at the Christmas Eve services. From what I remember of these services (I took a lot of cough syrup to get me through), they went really well. We had strong attendance and a number of new families and individuals join us. Thank you to all of you who invited people along, or chose to help in one of the service teams on Christmas Eve.
Christmas is always a bit of blur. We spend so much time looking forward to it, and before we know it, it’s over. Eventually, what remains is a fridge full of leftovers, some new “stuff”, and a whack of garbage that I somehow have to figure out how to get the city workers to take! Although Christmas day is over, the Good News of Christmas can stay with us all year. We can celebrate Immanuel, “God with us”, every day. Think about it: God came down to be with us. He came to reveal himself to us, to teach and heal, and ultimately to rescue us by giving his life in our place. The Good News of the gospel is that God became man. This means that long after the Christmas season has ended, we can still enjoy the truths of Christmas. In Hebrews 4:15, the writer explains that because God became man, he understands our struggles, fears and temptations. We can go to him and find hope, comfort and freedom. The Good News of Christmas is for every day.
This Sunday: Don’t forget, on Dec 30, we’re only offering an 11:00am service. We’re going to be focusing on our work to reach the nations globally and locally. You won’t want to miss it.
Jan 6 2018: Right after the service, our Young Adults are going out for lunch. Details are in our Newsletter and Facebook.
Giving Update: So far, we’ve received just shy of 85% of our goal for the month. This is fantastic! Between our EFTs, Tithely, and Sunday morning offerings, we’re received $67,548. I personally want to thank each of you that have participated in the Generosity Challenge. Just a reminder that once we hit $80,000, everything else we receive will be donated to the Clementia Learning Center in Lebanon! What a tremendous way to bless others and have an impact together for the gospel. We’re getting close Summerside, so please keep praying and giving as you are able. Again, thank you for your commitment and support in making this.
Hey Summerside, Pastor Deven here.
I hope that you’ve noticed the new layout to our weekly email newsletter. The goal of the newsletter is to let you know what is coming up in the next two to three weeks. Its focus is solely on events. Please remember: When you read about these events, don’t just think about yourself - think about those who aren’t yet connected at Summerside or those who come from a non-churched background. Be thinking of who you could invite!
The second thing I want to mention is our December Generosity Challenge. In case you missed it, here’s what we’re doing: We’re asking God to provide what we need to end the year meeting our budget. Every dollar that we receive on top of that in our General Fund is going to be donated to the Clementia Learning Center (CLC) in Lebanon. You can find more information HERE
For our December Generosity Challenge, let me encourage you to do two things:
1. Pray that God would provide what we need, and more, so that we could help the CLC.
2. If you call Summerside home, please prayerfully consider your giving and how God is calling you to help.
One final thing I’d like to make you aware of is our renovation project taking place in the north part of the building. The downstairs (used for kids’ classes and youth) is really the only part of the building that has yet to be updated. Because of our growth and the number of kids that we have on Sundays, we’re currently renovating this area. Pastor Luke and Michele (our Kids Ministry Directory) have worked through ideas and, with Baribeau Construction, have been working out the plan. A big thank you goes out to Elias Baribeau, Blair Gress and the Summerside Construction Team who have been working hard to help us make this project a reality. (Note: this project is financed by donations that have been designated to our Building Fund, not our General Fund).
As always, please keep praying for me (and all our staff) – I need it! Pray that God would use his word and his people to make the name of Jesus great; and that we would see people transformed by the power of the Good News of Jesus.