Each week Fellowship President, Steve Jones, encourages and challenges those within The Fellowship through his weekly emails.
We are pleased to be able to make these available online.
We trust you, too, will be encouraged and challenged by what Steve shares.
There is a scene in the movie “Gandhi”, where Gandhi, a young lawyer in South Africa, is walking a boardwalk with a white clergyman. Walking and talking together in public was against all proper societal decorum in the Apartheid state. During their chat, a young man accosted them for being together. His mother yells from her upstairs window and the ringleader leaves the two friends alone.
As they continue their walk, the clergyman exclaims their “good luck”. Gandhi is surprised by this view of what just happened and says, “Good luck? I thought you were a man of God.” The clergyman replied, “I am, but I don’t believe God plans His day around me!” The audience around me laughed at the comment. It’s a common attitude that in everyday life, God isn’t really interested in giving us divine guidance in the little stuff of life.
The Bible’s record shares a very different reality. Over and over again we read of God choosing to plan His day around those He chooses.
In one of my favourite passages of Scripture, 1 Samuel 3:1-10, we learn of God speaking to a young boy. Young Samuel lay on his cot in the Temple when he hears someone call his name. He rose and ran to his old master, Eli, thinking he had called him. However, the third time young Samuel comes running to Eli’s side, thinking he had been beckoned by his master, Eli realizes what’s been happening. He tells Samuel to tell the voice, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And so begins one of the most remarkable relationships our Heavenly Father would ever have with one of His children.
God was heard clearly by an innocent, humble child. God’s voice is best heard by the humble.
Moses probably holds the all-time record for lengthy conversations with God. Why Moses? The possible clue is found in Numbers 12:3 which says, “Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth”. There is an obvious close connection between his humility and his close working relationship with God. Wisdom literature tells us, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” (Proverbs 29:23), while the Psalmist (David) in Psalm 25:9 writes, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Pastor A.T. Pierson was personal friends with C.H. Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, George Muller (wrote his biography), C.L. Scofield, Adoniram Judson and he was the elder statesman of the Student Missionary Movement that influenced thousands of the early 20th Century. He commented on Psalm 25:9, saying:
“Humility is a real preference for God’s Will. Where this holy habit of mind exists, the whole being becomes so open to impression that, without any outward sign or token, there is an inward recognition and choice of the Will of God.
“God guides, not by a visible sign, but by swaying our judgment. To wait before Him, weighing candidly in the scales every consideration for or against a proposed course…. Is a frame of mind and heart in which one is fitted to be guided; and God touches the scales and makes the balance to sway as He will.
“BUT OUR HANDS MUST BE OFF the scales, otherwise we need expect no interposition of His IN OUR FAVOUR.”
What this 19th Century Bible commentator is saying is God’s preferred vehicle of choice in making His Will known, His “still small voice”, is a humble follower of Christ. A believer who displays a meek mind and life. A mindset that God can “sway judgment” or open up to His “impressions” or “tip the scale” and make His voice clear.
God loves to speak to the unassuming, the humble:
- An 80 year old shepherd with a speech impediment becomes a nation builder.
- A teenage shepherd, the kid brother, who becomes a nation and Kingdom-builder.
- Some uneducated fisherman from a back water Roman province who become spiritual Kingdom builders.
God’s tendency is to clearly inform the unpretentious, those who are careful to not tip the scale. The humble hear his voice.
Have a blessed week,
What community in Canada is closed to the church? There are actually many communities in Canada where Christians are not permitted to freely enter and engage with the residents. Have you guessed? They are the police stations, hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, military bases, fire halls, school campuses of our nation.
It is becoming more difficult for clergy to enter these communities to be the hand and feet of Jesus. However, over 70 Fellowship chaplains seek to provide the presence of Christ on a daily basis in these closed communities across Canada.
I recently heard chaplain Garry Francis talk about this reality in his own ministry as a police chaplain. Listen to the special access our chaplains receive in places the church or clergy no longer have the privilege of access.
“As a police chaplain I’m given a badge and an ID card which gives me “access” to people and places that are “out of bounds” for the majority of our population. I consider it an exceptional opportunity and a tremendous honour to have access behind the division/headquarters counters/doors and beyond the “blue line” to access the hearts and minds of the people in those restricted areas.
“Here are some of the places God has opened up and has given police chaplain’s access:
- Access to the division as a divisional chaplain,
- Access to their police jurisdiction headquarters,
- Access to any division or headquarters across the entire country (the police brotherhood),
- The platoons in their division,
- The staff sergeant – the “gate keeper” for the platoons on the road,
- The people who care for specialized units in their division (major crime, drugs, sex crimes, school, community, fraud, etc.),
- The staff – maintenance, administration, clerical, etc.,
- The command – Inspector and Division Superintendent,
“Here are some of the unique circumstances that police chaplains have access:
- To offer assistance to officers at ball games, concerts, traffic, parades, etc.,
- To offer assistance to officers behind “police tape” or in “a controlled scene” (never access to an active scene) if one is trained for Critical Incident Stress Management,
- Police chaplains also have unique access to offer assistance to airport security because their “badge” is recognized while going through airport screening/ scanning.
“The Great Commission encourages us to preach the Gospel at home, beyond our home, and to the uttermost parts of the world… as police chaplains “the badge” gives us access to people and places in restricted areas everywhere we go.”
Our Fellowship Chaplaincy ministry is home to 72 chaplains seeking to demonstrate the love of Christ in their ministry of presence.
If you are interested in chaplaincy, or know someone who might be, please take a peek at our website at www.fellowship.ca/Chaplaincy and contact Thomas HERE for more information.
Several of our pastors became “volunteer” Fellowship chaplains this past year as a means to be credentialed, so they might access differing closed communities in their neighborhood.
Have a blessed week,
Remember the occasion when David introduced the Ark back into Jerusalem. What was his response?
He strips and dances before it and one of his wives is disgusted. In her mind his behaviour was not befitting a King.
David’s response is he doesn’t care what she thinks. He even warns he might become even more undignified worshipping Jehovah. Indirectly, he was stating I’m not thinking about you when I’m worshipping God. I’m thinking only of God. If my passion in praise is offensive to you, that’s your problem, not mine.
Now, David did not have the privilege of those New Testament passages that talk about limiting our freedom for “weaker” brethren. Regardless, the principle is sound. As I worship, my first and foremost thought should not be what others think of me, but what God thinks of my heart.
I asked some of our worship leaders what was the thing they loved most about leading God’s people in praise and worship. The thing that makes you smile. Seeing the response of God’s people, what brings you joy….gratitude. Listen to what our “worship prompters” said:
“The thing I love most about leading God’s people in praise and worship is…”
“…it prepares people for a week in the trenches. Often people come in with the burdens of the week – you can see it on their faces. As we worship, God gives us a bigger perspective. Often we see tears as people reflect on the love and grace of God. As we leave the worship service, we are set for another week... out there in the world!”
—Gary Sharpe, Forward Baptist, Cambridge, ON
“…seeing and hearing God’s people worship together. Whether that is them belting out a Gospel song with passion and unity, or reflecting on Jesus and His cross during communion in silent contemplation. Seeing and hearing people respond to God’s grace is why I do what I do.”
—Luke Cuthbert, Summerside Church, London, ON
“…the hush right after a moment that has declared the Holiness, Righteousness, and Glory of the Triune God. There is something about the quietness of God’s people in a moment of awe and adoration that gets me every time. It’s a sacred obligation and trust we have as worship leaders to lead people into the Presence of the Lord.”
—Don Salmon, Westney Heights Baptist, Ajax, ON
“…hearing God’s people praise His Name in full-voice, and with full hearts. I can lead an awesome praise team with great guitar, epic drums, and stirring piano, but nothing compares to the people of God, joined in one voice, lifting up the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That moves my heart in the most wonderful way.”
—Daniel Dayton, Emmanuel Baptist, Bloomfield, ON
“…seeing the look on people’s faces when they “get it”. While everyone in the congregation is typically looking at the projection screen or the band, as a Worship Pastor, I often have the privilege of looking out at the body of Christ. There are few things more satisfying to me than pouring my time and energy into thoughtfully planning a Christo-centric service, then stepping back, listening to the church sing praise to God, and watching faces light up as they reencounter the deep love of Jesus Christ!”
—Jacob Elliot, Grandview Church, Kitchener, ON
“I love the opportunity to see the transformational power of the liturgy in people’s lives. Whether it is through a corporate prayer, a song, a time of confession, or reciting the apostles Creed – it’s neat to see people respond to the historical and biblical components of corporate worship and be shaped as a body.”
—Paul Turner, Emmanuel Baptist, Barrie, ON
“…playing my part by being able to help our people realize that they haven’t left God’s presence, that in corporate worship we refocus, resettle and readjust our minds and hearts to be aligned with our created purpose, to Love God and enjoy His pleasure for us as we sing, think, pray, and reflect together.”
—Corey Brown, West Park Baptist, London, ON
“…that it is a picture to me of the future, eternity spent in worship and in God’s presence. We have been created for community with one another and with God, and lifting our voices together in song, in prayer, in reading of God’s Word together as we worship, fosters a sense of community and belonging that we simply cannot experience on our own.”
—Patrick Timney, Bramalea Baptist, ON
“…being able to encourage, strengthen, and urge each other to fix our eyes on Christ! Worshipping in community has this unique place in our lives which we can remind each other of the Gospel and how it applies to our lives with a freedom that many people struggle to have outside of this setting because of personality, awkwardness, barriers, etc.”
—Sarah Quartel, Forward Baptist, Toronto, ON
“…the blessing and privilege to be a part of a biblical calling that God has used and continues to use to help prompt, encourage, focus, and support his people as they raise their songs and prayers together. I’m blown away by the many times and ways that God chooses to use our efforts (despite our weakness) to invade our gatherings with his transcendent glory and transform us for his purposes. It’s an amazing experience to see God at work as His people seek to glorify Him in praise and worship. However the thing I love best is when God chooses to intersect our corporate worship in such a powerful and moving way that clearly has nothing to do with human effort.”
—Steve Cottrell, Calvary Baptist, Oshawa, ON
“…seeing Psalm 108 come to pass in our congregation. As the Spirit of God spiritually “awakens the dawn” in people’s lives, I have the privilege of experiencing hundreds of voices raised in praise. I know that I am doing my part in facilitating the worship of God, and the encouraging of people.”
—Lee Brubacher, West Highland Baptist, Hamilton, ON
“I love most the moment when we as a church collectively forget ourselves, together enraptured by a tiny glimpse of the beauty of our Lord and Saviour, God and King. To be used by God to effectively point people to Jesus. Worth living for.”
—Ben Smith, Bonnyville Baptist, AB
Praise our great God without any thought of yourself, only the Lord. I’m not suggesting you dance like King David, but I am suggesting you give your all in your next worship service. Consider the joy you might give your worship pastor, more importantly, consider the joy you might offer the Lord!
Have a Blessed Week
Imagine a tooth extraction under the shade of a tree in 30 degrees Celsius and 100% humidity. A few years back I had the privilege of watching Fellowship International missionaries Oeut and Nhep Pech during one of their mobile dental clinics in rural Cambodia. Professional dental care was administered to dozens of people with the Gospel clearly presented. Several patients received Christ that day. A national pastor was later assigned to visit and disciple these new believers in the hope that a new church might be planted. The Pech’s ministry has been very effective.
Our current FAIR appeal, Brightening Smiles, Winning Hearts, seeks to resource the Pechs to continue their ministry. Let me allow FAIR Associate Director, Norman Nielsen, explain the appeal, the goal, and how you can get involved:
Brightening Smiles, Winning Hearts
Rural Cambodians have little to no access to dental services, making oral hygiene an issue for many. Through Fellowship International missionaries Oeut and Nhep Pech, Cambodians can have access to free dental care, courtesy of FAIR's mobile dental clinic.
While this ministry has focused on providing Cambodians the dental care they so desperately need, it has also taken every opportunity to effectively share the love of Christ with patients and their families. Since arriving in Cambodia in 2007 and launching FAIR’s mobile dental clinic ministry, the Pechs have helped 8,638 patients — 414 of whom have placed their faith in Jesus. Of the students who serve as a part of the dental staff, 54 have come to know Christ. Without the clinic, these people would never have heard the Gospel!
Vong Doeun and his wife Los Horn were among the first patients treated by FAIR's mobile dental clinic when the ministry started in Bosknor, Cambodia. They came to the clinic for dental treatment and, while waiting the prescribed 30 minutes after the procedure, they heard the Gospel for the first time. They invited Oeut and Nhep back to their home and introduced them to the rest of their family. After only two visits, both Vong Doeun and his wife, as well as two of their children, accepted Christ! Vong Doeun, who had been severely disabled from injuries he sustained in the 1970s during the reign of dictator Pol Pot, became instrumental in the spread of the Gospel in the area of Bosknor. A home-church gathering was held at their home each week until the number of believers exceeded the space available and a church building was built. God used Vong Doeun and his family to expand His Kingdom, displaying His strength through weakness.
Not only has this ministry been instrumental in leading many people to Christ, it has also facilitated the planting of three churches across Cambodia, each of which has a Cambodian national serving as pastor. In this country that has been so ravaged by war, churches are few and far-between. The goal is to plant two new churches in the next few years, a goal which cannot be met unless the Pechs are able to continue ministering through the mobile dental clinic. FAIR is seeking to raise $80,000 which will go towards purchasing much needed medical supplies enabling rural Cambodians to receive the dental treatments they desperately need and, at the same time, introducing them to Christ. Something so seemingly simple as receiving dental care is having an unbelievable impact on Cambodians. Please prayerfully consider how the Lord would have you respond to this appeal.
Have a blessed week,
Do you remember this historical vision communication?
On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” By July 1969 the vision was completed with Neil Armstrong standing on the moon. Vision must be short, sweet, and memorable. But vision is mandatory if mission is ever to be completed.
While serving as a pastor, I shared “vision vignettes” from time to time. They were brief challenges, stories and parables that succinctly crystallized the vision or mission of our church. Answering, why do we exist?
Here is one of those vision vignettes:
“Let me ask you a question. What is the oldest profession? I know what half of you are thinking right now! You’re wrong. The oldest profession is actually gardening. Adam and Eve began as gardeners and the world will end in an eternal gardened city.
Imagine with me the Church as a garden. The church needs to be a green garden with peaceful spaces where parched people can find rest for their lives. One of my favourite verses is Isaiah 58:11 (NLT): “The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”
People need nourishing green spaces in life to connect with God. But, there is a danger in thinking the church’s mission is to solely be a lush, green garden. A safe green space for people to gather and grow and flourish spiritually. The reality is that we do not yet live in heaven. We live in a fallen world surrounded by sinful people. And unless we tend to our little garden regularly with care, the weeds of this world will invade our garden.
I read W.O Mitchell’s book, “Jake and the Kid”. It’s a story of a twelve year old boy growing up in the Canadian Prairies during the 1940s. There is a line in the book that struck me. It went something like this “The prairie will take over if your backyard don’t fight back.” Our garden is not a playground. It’s a garden we must continually tend and fight for. It’s a green space surrounded by the ravages of war. A spiritual battle that is constantly “fighting back”.
So our mission as a local church is not to build nice, lush, peaceful gardens to protect us from the battle, but, to use our gardens (churches) to prepare us to assult the beaches of our common enemy.
My son Alec, and I, took a trip together to visit the War Memorials, mostly found in France. An awesome experience shared with my boy. We visited the beaches of Normandy where 70+ years ago brave Canadian soldiers stormed Juno Beach.
On D-Day the allies established a beachhead and repelled the enemy further inland. But the War (the work) wasn’t finished in one day. They had another 11 horrifying months before their mission was complete. However, the beachhead on June 6th, 1944 became a “green-space” to rally the troops, re-equip the soldiers and direct the army to continue inland.
This is what I’m picturing when I call the church to be a “well watered garden” (Isaiah 58:11). Not a place to get comfortable and meet my needs; but, a green place, a stopping off point, to get refreshed and prepared to go back out there into the battle and advance the beachhead inland for the sake of Christ. It’s not a playground out there. It’s a war zone where spiritual battle is taking place every day.
I know you know this. That’s why I love you for leading the charge. Spiritual orphans all around us are counting on us to lead the charge forward. Jesus, our Commander in Chief, once said to us, “GO!” (Matthew 28:19)
Leadership author, John Kotter wrote:
“In every successful transformation effort that I have seen, the guiding coalition develops a picture of the future that is relatively easy to communicate and appeals to people. A vision always goes beyond the numbers that are typically found in five year plans. A vision says something that helps clarify the direction in which an organization needs to move. Sometimes the first draft comes mostly from a single individual.”
That individual is you. The leader, in consultation with others. It is the responsibility of leaders to cast vision. It is a dereliction of their duty not to state clearly, simply, often, and memorably…. The preferred picture of the future. Go cast vision!
Have a blessed week,