The Local Church Was Made To Serve The Christian, Not The Christian The Local Church

The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. Sabbath is a gift God has given us for our good. We are feeble creatures who need rest, yet foolish creatures who would otherwise work ourselves to the bone. The sabbath is a reminder of our weakness, of our finiteness, of our inability. It is a reminder of all of these in a physical sense and, more ultimately, in a spiritual sense, for so much of what is true …

When Unanimity is the Enemy of Unity

It is God’s desire that there be unity between his people, and for that reason Christian unity is a prominent theme in the New Testament. Jesus prays for it in his High Priestly prayer, Luke describes it in his history of the early church, Paul demands it of the congregations he writes to, Peter appeals for it in his epistles, and John displays it in its final perfection in his vision of what is to come. As we each live …

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Lessons In Becoming a Better Listener

It is one thing to hear, but another thing to listen. Good communication and healthy relationships depend upon not only on hearing the words other people say, but on carefully listening to what they mean to communicate. To listen is to love. But if we are honest, few of us are good listeners. It’s easy enough to hear others, but very difficult to truly listen to them. That may be particularly true and particularly important in the context of the …

Are Churches “A Major Source of Coronavirus Cases?”

The New York Times recently ran a column headlined “Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are a Major Source of Coronavirus Cases.” The lede is alarming: “The virus has infiltrated Sunday services, church meetings and youth camps. More than 650 cases have been linked to reopened religious facilities.” Here’s how the story begins: Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the …

A Gasp of Pain, A Sigh of Relief

The lockdowns are slowly ending and churches are tentatively re-opening. Of course most are opening during vacation season so have begun with a much-reduced schedule of programming—typically Sunday morning services and not a whole lot else. But summer will soon be past and the busy fall season will be upon us. It’s safe to assume that come August or September, most churches will hope to start up the rest of their programs—youth groups and men’s breakfasts and women’s meetings and …

The Safest Place for the Weakest People

It has been a blessing to hear from friends and family across America whose churches are beginning to meet again after the period of forced separation. It has been fascinating (though a little strange) to see photographs of the spaced-out seating, the masks, the deliberate distancing, the omnipresent bottles of hand sanitizer. While I expect it will be some time before we gain the privilege in Ontario, I look forward to the day when we, too, can once again worship …

A Pastoral Prayer

Our Father, we are so thankful that you are a God who loves. In fact, you are not just a God who loves, but a God who is love. For you, love is not merely something you do, but it is who you are. To be God is to be love, to be the very source the very fountain of love. For all eternity, you have existed in a relationship of love with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loving one …

I Miss the Ordinary the Most

Recent conversations with other Christians have shown that I’m not alone in carrying an unusual level of stress, fear, and anxiety. These are uncertain days and many of us are struggling through them in various ways. Some are feeling this struggle as a heavy emotional weight, some are feeling it as despondency or listlessness, some are feeling it physically as cold sweats or a tightening of the chest. And no wonder! We are quarantined within our homes, we are adapting …

A Pastoral Prayer for Easter in Lockdown

From time to time, probably every month or so, I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer that was prayed at Grace Fellowship Church. The pastoral prayer is a time for one of the pastors or elders to pray on behalf of the congregation and to intercede on their behalf. This particular prayer was prayed by me, for our online Easter service, during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020. *** Our Father in Heaven, In your Word you’ve told …

Why Our Church Is Only Sort Of Streaming Our Services

Like so many other churches across the world, mine had to make a sudden and unexpected decision in the face of a pending lockdown: Do we broadcast our services or do we not? Under normal circumstances we would never even entertain the notion, but with a looming period of isolation that would last no less than weeks and that could well stretch into months, we were suddenly presented with the dilemma. We decided to “sort of” broadcast our services. Let …