This will be the last Pastor’s Corner till September. (Even the Pastor’s Corner takes a summer holiday.) I thought a good way to end the church year would be to tell you some stories of lives that have been changed at Bethel Church. The stories are very moving.
A single dad is making a new start as a Christian. He is reading his Bible for the first time and is growing in his faith with the support of Bethel members. Responsible for three kids and living far from his family of origin, life can be a challenge for him. Yet, at Bethel he is experiencing love. When describing the church, he says: “I have finally found my family.”
A boy in lighthouse who appeared uninterested in the lessons from week to week, wrote a heartfelt note to a classmate with special needs. The family of the special needs child was deeply touched by this boy’s act of kindness. The boy’s small group leader told him that he “had been Christ” to his classmate. This “lesson” clearly impacted the boy. He became very excited about what Christ had done through him.
Another little boy appeared not to be paying attention each week during class, but the Holy Spirit was obviously at work in his life, even though his teachers couldn’t see it. One day he was reading the Bible as part his class activity. His teacher went to chat with him and he asked her, “Did Jesus really die for me?”
A little girl came up to me, just last week, and asked, “Pastor Tom, would you give this note to God?” On the slip of paper that she gave me, she had written a beautiful expression of faith to her heavenly father.
A young adult couple shared that they feared being lonely in Edmonton. The city was brand new to one of them, and still fairly new to the other. “But,” they say, “fortunately, we found Bethel. Everyone was so friendly and we were encouraged right away to join a small group. We found out about young adults and decided to give it a try. Everyone in the Young Adults group expressed how they'd like the group to be a welcoming place where everyone could get to know each other as they grow closer to God—and this has been happening. I feel that I've grown in my faith and have found connections to other Christ-loving people. We are blessed to have found a church family with whom we can share our lives.
Keep on being the hands, feet, ears, heart, and voice of Jesus, Bethel. The Holy Spirit is clearly at work.—Pastor Tom
In this Sunday’s message we are exploring the vital topic of prayer. I thought I would share with you some inspiring quotes on the topic. I hope you will be as encouraged by them as I am.
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” — Martin Luther
“Time spent in prayer is never wasted.”— Francis Fenelon
"God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer." — Mother Teresa
“God does not ask us to tell him our needs that he may learn about them, but in order that we may be capable of receiving what he I preparing to give. “— Augustine
“Through prayer we share the almightiness of God.” — Martin Luther
Jesus’ “teaching [on prayer] reduces to three general principles: Keep it honest, keep it simple, and keep it up.”
— Philip Yancey
When we intercede for others “all little, ill-natured passions die away” and our “hearts will grow great and generous.”
— William Law
“When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.” — William Temple
“When the devil sees a man or woman who really believes in prayer, who knows how to pray, and who really does pray, and, above all, when he sees a whole church on its face before God in prayer, he trembles as much as he ever did, for he knows that his day in that church or community is at an end.” — R.A. Torrey
— Pastor Tom
This Sunday is Pentecost. We recall the day, nearly 2000 years ago, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church, and Jesus’ first fearful disciples were turned into tigers who began to boldly proclaim God’s message of Good News in Jerusalem and beyond. Pentecost was the starting gun that launched the race to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and the Spirit is still present and available to empower us today.
It is clear to me that God’s Spirit is at work in Bethel in a fresh way. I have heard so many stories lately of Bethelites sharing the Good News, sometimes in the most startling circumstances. One woman was invited to share the Gospel with a Muslim neighbour after this women had commented on the love she had seen Christians display. Another Bethelite was told by a non-believing neighbour that she had had seen a positive turn in her life and that she attributed it to this Bethelite’s prayers to Jesus! I myself had an unexpected opportunity to pray with a neighbour on my driveway one day after returning from work (a completely unexpected outcome to our conversation!).
We are commemorating this Pentecost Sunday with a flag ceremony. (Representatives of the 30 different nations that make up Bethel Church will march their flags to the front of the sanctuary.) We do this as both a symbol and a prayer. It is a symbol that we, who are many, have been made one through the Gospel. It is a prayer that God will continue to empower us to take the Gospel to those whom He puts in our path, in fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Paul, quoting Isaiah, says: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Roman 10:15). As bearers of God’s Good News, may we be a beautiful presence to those desperately in need of God in our church’s community, in our own communities, and to the ends of the earth.—Pastor Tom
Come here for news on what is happening in Bethel Church from our Pastors.