FRIDAY JANUARY 18TH, 2019
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.
FRIDAY JANUARY 11TH, 2019
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,
FRIDAY January 4TH, 2019
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.
Friday December 28th, 2018
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.
Friday December 14th, 2018
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.