Think.

As I consider which conference I might attend next, this is high on my “wish list”. What a fantastic promo video for what will undoubtedly be an outstanding event. The opportunity to sit under the teaching of John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Rick Warren, and Francis Chan would be a remarkable privilege and delight.

A Message Worth Repeating

I was at a Pastors Conference in Chicago in the late 1990s when a question was put to Howard Hendricks, “Is it acceptable for a preacher to deliver the same message more than once?” (presumably in different contexts).

Without hesitation, Hendricks replied with an emphatic tone, “If it’s not worth preaching more than once, it’s not worth preaching!”

I appreciated that response very much. As I was delivering my final messages at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well, from a series entitled, “Parting Words From Your Pastor”, my wife exhorted me to make these messages my opening words for St. Andrew’s Kirk in Nassau, Bahamas.

This past Sunday, we began a message series entitled, “Foundational Priorities”. Within this 6-week series I am adapting and reusing a few of my messages from “Parting Words”. The first was “Understand The Gospel”—based on Ephesians 1 and 2.

Reflecting on this passage, I presented the Gospel as having 5 prongs, or primary components:

1. The Gospel centres around God (His nature, His initiative, His glory, His reputation, etc.)

2. The Predicament of Human Sin (How our sin alienates us from God and prevents us from honouring Him)

3. The Gift of Grace (God’s riches bestowed, apart from merit, through Christ)

4. The Gift of Faith (Our God-given capacity to apply the riches of Christ)

5. We Reflect God’s Glory (Having been made alive, and having our nature altered by God’s Spirit, our lives become centred around glorifying Christ).

Have a listen to the audio below.

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End of An Era

I’m more than a month late posting these pics from my final Sunday at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well. My personal reflection on the events of May 16 can be accessed in a previous post. I simply wanted to use this space to post a few pics with a couple of comments on each…

The Well, May 16, 2010 

The Well was born on September 7, 2008. As an idea, it was born almost a year prior to that. The Well is an informal, highly contemporary, service that succeeded in attracting new families to St. Giles Kingsway and nurturing them in the faith. I was so pleased that on our final Sunday at The Well, we completely packed the place! As usual, Allen Froese and his band did an outstanding job leading the music, and Diana Loach was fantastic teaching and engaging the army of kids that showed up for the finale. Our hospitality team, led by Lois Taylor and our greeters, brought their “A” game, and we lingered afterwards over pizza.

In this pic is Don Taylor—elder, Clerk of Session, and one of my best friends in the world. Engaging Don in conversation is our almost 8-year-old daughter, Anya—who just adores Don! Anya is wearing her new necklace, a gift from the congregation, presented to her following the 10 am service earlier in the day.

Besides apparently giving myself a neck massage, I am engaging another one of my best friends, David Terry. David, if I recall, came to St. Giles Kingsway in 2003. David and MaryAnne became members and I had the privilege of baptizing their two children. David later became the Convenor of the Worship Committee and a member of our Session. At every turn, I was encouraged by David’s persistent support for me and for the new initiatives of the congregation.

This picture captures the final moment of my leading my final worship service at The Well. For me, it is the end of an era. It was a good run that produced great memories. I learned a lot about ministry during my 8 years at St. Giles Kingsway and am so thankful to have had such great people to work with.

I believe God was honoured here—not only in our ministry, but also in our friendships.

Up To The Challenge

I have had the privilege of working with many outstanding elders in my 12 years as an ordained pastor and, as I transition to St. Andrew’s Kirk in Nassau, I am thrilled about the pool of elders here. I’m not one who normally likes meetings, but I must say that my first elder’s meeting at the Kirk last Wednesday was enjoyable. The Session here is enthusiastic about the work at hand, and about the opportunity we have to promote Jesus Christ in Nassau.

Wanting to begin well, I explained to the Session that I would like to meet with every elder individually to get to know them and to hear about their hopes and dreams for St. Andrew’s. Once I’ve done that, I asked them if they would accompany me on some pastoral visits—at least for the first few months. Today I had lunch with one of my elders and, not only was he eager to accommodate this request, but he pledged to go with me once a month, for the next 12 months, to visit folks connected to the Kirk.

I know it is early, and I suspect that some of my cautious colleagues will remind me that this is the “honeymoon” stage of my ministry here, but I am quite confident that this group of elders “is for real”. These folks continue to exceed my expectations and have demonstrated at several turns that they are up to the challenge presented by congregational ministry.

As I read Peter’s description of elders in his first epistle, I think of the Session I now have the pleasure of serving with:

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:2-4)

To the Session of St. Andrew’s Kirk—thank you for being up to the challenge!