A SPECIAL GUEST IS COMING TO BETHEL
For each of the past six years our high school youth have taken a mission trip to Mexico. This year things will be different. The pastor they have visited for over all these years will be coming to Bethel. Pastor Arturo will be joined by his family.
When Pastor Ryan brought the first group of youth down to Mexico in 2011, church services were held in the back room of Pastor Arturo’s home. Youth Director Melanie Reynders writes:
“Since then our Bethel Youth have seen the church foundation laid, the walls go up, a roof put on, concrete poured, bathrooms built, and classrooms added. Each year the youth have been able to help with some part of these projects. They have also seen the church’s ministry grow and flourish.”
While they are here, the pastor and his family will meet for supper at Boston Pizza with all the youth who have taken a Mission Trip to Mexico in the past six years. They will also be joining the youth for their Mystery Retreat. Opportunity will be given for the whole congregation to meet them.
Pastor Arturo Aguirre will be joined by his wife, Lourdes, and three of his four children, Adami (19), Abdiel (17), and Areli (14). His eldest daughter, Abigail, is married and lives in Tennessee.
ARE YOU LAYING DOWN YOUR LIFE FOR YOUR CHURCH FAMILY?
Who are you sacrificially laying down your life for in the church these days? Jesus, said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). So, how is that going for you?
I am staggered when I think about the scope of what Jesus expects of us as his followers. The love He modeled as he was dying on the cross, and ultimately in His death for us, is light years away from what we witness in the world from day to day; yet this is how He wants us to love one another. The good news is that He promises to come and live in our hearts and fill us with His love so we can, in turn, love our brothers and sisters. His love powers us on, and His forgiveness allows us to pick ourselves up when we fail.
However, we are told in the Bible, love that does not take on concrete expression is not love at all. To love one another in the church means that we must really be involved in each other’s lives. Jesus envisioned that His followers would have relationships that are committed and close.
This is why we have small groups at Bethel. This is one important way we join with one another to “do life together”. We cannot love one another from a distance. Small groups give us real people to serve, to enjoy, to be irritated with (let’s be realistic), to forgive and to be forgiven by. If we are not in a small group formally, we should be able to identify brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we are in relationships of mutual service, encouragement, and accountability.
This is what Jesus wants of us. It is not always easy, and we will be tempted to give up on one another, but that would be to fail Him.
So that brings me back to my question: Who are you sacrificially laying down your life for in the church these days? Let’s each take up our cross by loving those whom Jesus loves committedly, if imperfectly, humbly and sacrificially—even if at times those people fail us and hurt us. It’s the least we can do.
A FULL HOUSE
Have you noticed that the church building has been a pretty busy place lately? A number of people have commented to me about just how much activity can be seen happening on most evenings of the week and on some weekends.
On one evening, our Multicultural Team had to meet in the prayer room because the Shepherding Elders, the Deacons, the Cadet’s Boy’s Club, and the Money Life Legacy Course were all meeting on that same evening. Recently we actually had to tell a community organization that there was not a single room available for them to use for a Saturday morning meeting. On that particular day the Make Tax Time Pay program together with the Gem’s Girl’s Club rally were scheduled to occupy every available space in the church.
All this suggests something wonderful is happening. Between the ministries we are offering and the welcoming attitude we have toward partner organizations, the building is being used more and more frequently. This means more ministry is being done and more lives our being touched. Since our building is not our own, but belongs to God, we are delighted to see Him using it to His glory in this way.
Of course, along with growth and increased activity come challenges. It is harder to coordinate room use and to keep rooms tidy. But these things are easily solved if we just think of ourselves as—in fact we are—a big family occupying God’s house together. Here are a few basic principles for doing life together:
· We can be considerate of the others who share the building, while being patient with them when things occasionally go wrong.
· We can routinely let our Admin Assistant, Jill, know when we need to book a room. We can also let her know if we cancel a meeting, so she can uses the freed-up room to accommodate others.
· We can leave rooms as clean as we find them. If we take something out, we can put it back. We can push chairs in around tables, leave surfaces clean, vacuum if necessary, and wash any dirty dishes.
I thank the Lord for how He us using us and for the building He has given us for His service! May our building problems increase(!) if this means that vital ministry is increasing as well.–Pastor Tom
A SENSITIVE ISSUE
One of the biggest changes in Canadian society over the past several decades has to do with attitudes toward same-sex attraction. Once an unmentionable subject, it is now openly discussed. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada for over a decade now. Same sex attracted people and couples are frequently the subject of TV shows and media interviews, and the gay lifestyle is widely embraced.
What should Christians believe about same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage? For many of us, these questions are very personal because we have same-sex attracted friends or have same sex attracted loved ones. For us as a church the question is very important because we want to be welcoming of all people while being firmly rooted in what the Bible teaches.
Many years ago the Christian Reformed Church adopted a position on this matter. The church accepted the reality that some people are born same-sex attracted, and that to be born this way is not a sin. However, the church said, the Bible prohibits same-sex activity. This past summer, the church’s broadest assembly, Synod, heard a report from a committee tasked to work out the practical implications of this position when it comes to ministering to those who experience same-sex attraction. (Visit https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/position-statements/homosexuality to read more about the denominations history with this question and to find that report).
In the fall, at a meeting of all of our office bearers, we adopted six principles that describe where we, as a church, stand with respect to marriage and same-sex attraction. You can read those principles at the end of this article. Mark Elvin, who is same sex-attracted, and who interprets the Bible as we do, will be coming to Bethel next Sunday, March 19, at 7:00 to share his testimony and answer questions. Mark is an Anglican priest, a counsellor, and the Associate Director of Urban Sanctuary, a ministry of spiritual training.
Here is the statement our Council adopted:
The following affirmations about marriage and same-sex relationships will guide Bethel’s preaching, policies, and pastoral ministry.
--May God guide us as we continue to seek His will about this important topic. --Pastor Tom
Prayers of the Youth
For this week’s Pastor’s Corner I want to share something that our Assistant Youth Director Melanie Reynders and her team of youth leaders did last Friday. This year the youth group has been going through the book of Luke and they came to chapter 12. In verses 22-34 Jesus talks about worry. Melanie writes this:
"I didn't just want to preach at them about how to not be worried and what the Bible says about not being worried, but I wanted them to put it into practice.
In Luke, Jesus teaches us to not worry about our lives, what we will eat; or about our bodies, what we will wear for God knows our needs and will provide for us as we seek his kingdom. So how do we get rid of our worries? We seek God's kingdom.
During our night we set up prayer stations for six areas that we can be worried about - school, relationships, extra curriculars, health, family, and future - and we prayed through each of these worries in our lives. Leaders were also available to provide guidance and a different perspective on an area of worry. Then we broke out into our tribes (small groups), to build each other up in a community of believers.
These are small steps we take in seeking God's kingdom, but steps we often need to take as we continuously get wrapped up in thoughts of worry. I pray that our youth group (and our church) will continue to be a community of encouragement, where God can speak wisdom through us to each other in times of worry and we can continue to spur each other on as we each focus our attention on God and His kingdom."
In addition to this creative prayer night, this last Wednesday our youth group led the church through an Ash Wednesday service marking the beginning of the Lent season leading up to Easter. As we seek to become a church with intergenerational leadership, it is exciting to see the youth leading more and more in prayer.
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