THE NEXT STEP IN THE SEARCH FOR A NEW PASTOR
Pastor Jake Porter declined our call to become our Second Pastor. What do we do now? I would like to encourage us each to respond in three ways.
First, let’s acknowledge the disappointment. For the 93% of Bethelites who voted in favour of Jake’s coming, his saying “no” is a letdown. It has been difficult for the Search Team to work so hard only to be disappointed. It is difficult for all of us to have our hopes for a second pastor dashed. It is okay to feel not okay about this.
Second, I believe we should be hopeful. The search process is, well, just that: a process. We have learned that Jake is not God’s plan for Bethel. That means we are now just a little closer to knowing what God’s plan is. The five members of the search team are fully committed to carrying on. We remain confident that God will lead us to the right person at the right time.
Our team has also decided, with the Governing Elder’s approval, that we will be open to a broader range of people. We began our search saying that we would consider either ordained or unordained individuals, but ordained pastors and recent seminary graduates quickly became our sole focus. Now, we want to be open to God’s surprises. Maybe a fully ordained pastor is still God’s plan for us, but we are not going to close the door on a good candidate who may not yet have that qualification.
Finally, we need to pray. We need to pray for Jake and Kris as they transition to a different part of God’s Kingdom. We need to pray for our church as we continue to search for the right person to serve at Bethel.--Pastor Tom
HAVE A SUCCESSFUL, SPIRITUAL, SUMMER EXPERIENCE
For many of us the summer months will bring a big change of pace. Your children may be around the house, altering the daily routine. You may have plans for a trip, a camping weekend, time at the cabin, or other leisure activities. Work may be busier or less busy depending on your job.
Personally, I’ve always welcomed the summer change of pace. It is slower for me and allows me some get-away time. However, some years ago I noticed something about my summers that I did not like.
I observed that summers often left me physically refreshed, but spiritually disconnected. Because my daily patterns were disrupted, I tended to neglect the disciplines that gave me joy and added to my spiritual vitality during the rest of the year. The solution, I discovered, was to plan ahead for how I would pursue my walk with God, while being flexible enough to embrace the refreshing change that summer brings.
I will often set a summer goal, say, to read a selected portion of the Bible or to memorize particular verses—and I will strategize for my time alone with God. I’ve found, generally, that the best time for quiet time is while others are sleeping in. By taking it then, I don’t disrupt the flow of vacation activities.
At the same time, I am flexible in how I pursue my devotional pattern. My prayers will be less structured and more meditative. I will pray while I am walking on a path or on a beach. I may spend time meditating on God’s creation in the mountains or in a forest.
I encourage you to invest just a small amount of time to pray and plan for your devotional life this summer. You can count on God’s help, because he wants to spend time with you even more than you want to spend time with him!
I hope you will have a summer that is both physically and spiritually refreshing. --Pastor Tom
HOW PEOPLE EXPERIENCED 24/7 PRAYER
We invited participants to tell us about their experience during the 24/7 prayer week. Here is just a small selection of the responses we received:
“My hour flew by as I learned it is good to do nothing but listen and talk with God.”
“These rooms express God’s heart.”
“I could not get enough of the LORD Jesus.”
“[I experienced a] renewing of my mind and perspective on the sovereignty of the Lord, and a newfound sense of true peace with no fear.”
“As soon as I walked into room one, I was overcome by emotion. My family just received an answer to prayer, and I had not made enough time or space to express my gratitude to my heavenly Father.”
“24/7 prayer may have changed how I pray for the rest of my life. It was like the Spirit was here, waiting for me, and eager to lead me in prayer.”
“It was awesome. The rooms are beautiful and inspiring! Please make it a yearly event! Thank you!!! It was my first time to pray for one hour!!!
“[I loved] the experience of sharing with my daughters in prayer, learning to draw close to them and seeing how the Lord Jesus moves through us.”
“As I worshiped, prayed, danced and waved banners in the sanctuary, I sensed God saying over his people—I wave a banner over YOU to let the world know you are mine. And to Bethel, God says, “My banner over you is LOVE” (Song of Songs 2:4).
“Let’s keep praying that next year we will have every room filled with prayer warriors!”
Some common themes we heard from participants were: “I really enjoyed being in God’s presence,” and “the time went by so quickly.”
I will be sharing more of the remarkable results of our 24/7 prayer week during worship on Sunday. If you have anything you would like to share, please contact one of the organizers (Cathy Ferchau, Adrienne Kelsey, Kevin Magnes, or myself).—Pastor Tom
REFLECTING ON OUR WEEK OF 24/7 PRAYER
We dedicated this past week to prayer. For 168 hours—seven days and nights—at least one person has been in the church building praying. Often, there were two or three or even more people praying at the same time. What did we accomplish? Looking back on this week, I think many important things happened. Here are just a few:
We Made God Happy: The apostle Paul says, “Live in order to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:10). I think we pleased God this week. All parents love it when their kids spend time talking with them. God loves it too. Martin Luther said, “Prayer is climbing up into the heart of God.”
We Changed the Future: The request, “Your Kingdom come your will be done,” implies that both God and we play a role in bringing about God’s preferred future. It is a partnership in which God is the directing partner. I have no doubt that God will do “more than all we can ask or imagine,” through the prayers we have prayed. I’m keeping my eyes open for what he has in store for us.
We Changed: You can’t pray from the heart and not be changed in the process. In prayer, we open ourselves up to God, and that opens us up to new possibilities. Over the course of time, prayer will bring about incremental changes in the person who prays, as well as in the community that prays. This week we welcomed God to make us more like the people he wants us to be.
We Deepened our Unity: Psalm 133 says: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity! …For there the Lord commands the blessing, life forevermore.” Through our shared time of prayer, we humbled ourselves, together, before God. People, so unified, welcome God’s blessing.
This is just tiniest tip of the iceberg of what, I believe, God has done through this week. We serve a wonderful, wonder-performing God. It is impossible to enumerate all of the gifts he gives to the people who earnestly seek him.—Pastor Tom
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