The sun is shining. The bird are singing. School is out. Welcome to summer, Bethel!
Living in the climate we do, summer is especially wonderful in Edmonton. Just log on to Facebook and you can see the excitement. I see pictures of Bethelites gardening, going to the cabin, and enjoying family time together – all while wandering in God’s beautiful Creation.
In Bannerman, summer is also a special time. For our church it is an awesome opportunity to share the love of Christ. Examples of this include the annual Canada Day BBQ & Carnival, youth and children's drop-ins, and the three summer camps we offer. I would encourage you to prayerfully consider how you might want to partner with our Summer Interns in making this year a success. Whether it is delivering flyers, making a meal, flipping burgers, visiting with neighbours or taking a group of kids at Kid’s Camp – every contribution counts! Of course, please also remember to pray.
Please note that starting July 3rd we are moving to one Sunday service at 10 a.m. The Pastor’s Corner will be taking a break and be back in the fall.
May God bless you richly this summer, Bethel!
- Pastor Ryan
For some time, Linda Vroon had sensed that God was urging her to invite her neighbours to a block party, so she decided to step out in faith. With the help of a neighbour who originated from the Philippines, she planned a tea party. Evert and Linda hosted the event on their driveway just this past Sunday.
Six families came, representing five different countries, including Africa, Canada, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Linda writes:
They all brought a treat representing their country, and we supplied tea, coffee, and iced tea. We shared about our faiths and our dreams for our children and landed up building trust which will deepen our relationships. The conversation went on for hours.
The numerous children who attended also had a great time. Linda sent me several wonderful pictures showing the kids playing together. One of the children enjoyed her time so much, she asked if she could have a sleepover at the Vroon’s home that night!
I appreciate this story for two different reasons. First, I love the idea of building relationships with neighbours. Not only does this create healthier, stronger, and safer neighbourhoods, but it also forms bridges that can become avenues for us to share our faith in Christ. People will be open to hearing about Christ only if they know us and know that we care.
The Vroon's experience also shows what can happen when we step out in faith in response to God’s leading. When we say our “yes” to God’s call, good things always come of it, and we get to share in the excitement of working in partnership with God.
Recently one of my own neighbours said to Janet: “We ought to have another barbeque this year, like we did last year.” All I can say is, “I’m all in and I can’t wait!”
Maybe God is leading you to step out and get to know your neighbours by having a block party. Maybe he is inviting you to join Him to spread His love and Good News in another way. How will you step out in faith this summer?
Thirty-nine men, including Bethel members and their friends, boarded a bus to Nordegg last Friday to spend the weekend at Frontier Lodge in the Rockies. They biked, hiked, rappelled, and canoed. They enjoyed campfires, heard talks, and entered into discussions. Here, according to Men's Retreat planning team, are some of the good things that happened on the weekend:
Men ranging in age from the 20's to the 70's were mixing together.
The talks were handled “in house”—no high powered guest speaker was flown in—and the feedback was good. The talks seemed to generate some positive thoughts and discussion. Worship was added this year--also led by Bethel members.
Many men connected with other men from Bethel on a deeper level than before.
Many of the men who came have only recently joined Bethel. They made new connections. We hope they made some new friends.
An unchurched friend attended. He gained a new and positive view of Christians and the Christian faith.
A few other tidbits:
The men slept in brand new cabins this year. While this was a relief from the more rickety cabins of last year, it didn’t stop the snoring. On order for next year are cones of silence.
Darrell Vandenbrink won 4 out of 5 of the Bump (basketball) games. Those who know this game will be reminded that you need to line up behind Darrell, next time, not in front of him.
Greg says of the retreat: “It was a fantastic way to build community in a way that coffee after church just isn't able to do. God was present and speaking into the hearts of Men all weekend through his creation and Word.”
We had an interesting conversation this week, Wednesday, at our early morning prayer meeting. The topic was: How are we to think about those times in our lives when we believe God is leading us in a particular direction, but then we seem to hit a dead end. When a dream like this dies, it can be a very disillusioning time in our walk with God.
Here are some insights, that came out of the discussion, about how to approach these times:
· It is possible that we got God’s guidance wrong. We should always check out this possibility with godly friends. Our painful experience can make us wiser about how to discern God’s will in the future.
· The fact that God called us to a step of faith doesn’t guarantee that our path will be easy or lead to the exact outcome we had envisioned. When God calls us to obedience, we are to be faithful. The results are up to Him. I remember once trying to get an outreach ministry off the ground. The outcome fell significantly below all my hopes and expectations. It was a disappointing experience since I believed God was guiding me to start the ministry. I took some comfort from believing that God had used the effort in some small way in people’s lives. (Who knows, maybe He may even planted a seed that will grow in the future.) But ultimately, we humans cannot know God’s sovereign plans. At these times, we must trust and obey and leave the results to God.
· Sometimes the death of a dream is God’s way of growing and preparing us. He uses the experience to move our confidence off of ourselves and on to Him. Someone illustrated this by using the picture of an old fashion dynamite wick. Once ignited, the flame burning on the wick like this would sputter and spark as it inched slowly toward the explosive. Some times the flame would seem to die altogether. Then after a few moments it would spring suddenly to life again before continuing along the line to cause the big bang. Our God-birthed dreams can be like that. God lets them die only to resurrect them again. When He does, we realize that we have seen Him do something only He can do, and our motives become purer and our faith becomes greater.
In our current series of messages, UNLEASHED, we have been learning to live in closer harmony with the Holy Spirit. Doing so leads to a wonderful adventure, but it can be mysterious at times. This is because we are dealing with a real being - our Heavenly Father who is also the sovereign of the universe - and with a dynamic situation filled with spiritual realities. God is honored when we have faith that He can do big things in this world. But we must always remember that God remains in charge. It is God we must ultimately hold on to, not our dreams.
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