Following Jesus

I had no idea, you could say I was clueless! What did it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

In 1977, I clearly heard and understood the message that God loved me and sent his son, Jesus, to pay the penalty of sin that I owed. I repented of my sins and placed my faith, my future, my total being in God’s care. Without realizing it at the time, I stepped into a process of walking with God everyday. God was slowly transforming my value system from being solely concentrated on me and my desires to him and his desires for me.

There is indeed a process that God places us in to become all that he wants us to become. All who have made that decision to receive Jesus as Lord are learning to understand what God desires. We no longer live for self but for the Lord.

Every person who is a Christian is a follower, a disciple of Jesus. Everyone should have a plan of growing to become more and more like him. How? Here are a few ideas:

Personal Plan for Spiritual Growth

1. Identify with the Community of Faith through baptism and church membership.

2. Find areas to serve God using the spiritual gifts, abilities and interests he has given us.

3. Grow in intimacy in our walk with God through daily, disciplined reading of the Bible and prayer.

4. Seek to encourage others in their walk with God through being a part of a small group. You cannot grow on your own, you need the encouragement and you can encourage others as well.

5. Share your faith. God has/is working in your life not just for you but that others can know him through you. God wants to use your story to change the lives of those who do not know him.

6. Give of your financial resources to support the work of the local church. God calls us to be generous with what he has entrusted us with financially.

These six principles are “basic training”. The entire span of our walk with Jesus is based on these. Following Jesus is not rocket science but is the discipline to faithfully practice them continually growing to become all he wants us to be.

My friend, go for it! Grow in faithfulness, love God passionately, serve Him loyally, and impact others radically. This is what a disciple of Jesus looks like.

Real Hope in Real Time

It has been a very difficult week. Much harder than most. We have witnessed the absolute horrific tragedy of the church shootings in a tiny town deep in the heart of Texas.  How in the world do we make sense of that? Dear people who left their homes as they usually have done to attend church completely unaware what the next hour would bring. Their lives, and ours, have been  changed forever.  Continue reading

The King of Your Mountain

king_of_the_mountain-720x340Life is precious. However, the way we treat it at times is the exact opposite of that. I am reminded of the game we played as children, we called it “King of the Mountain” in our neighbourhood. The objective was to climb to the top of the dirt pile and defend your spot with all your might!  This would involve tossing all competitors off your “regal territory.” What a blast!

Unfortunately, my friends, some adults, some Christian adults, some Christian adults who are leaders in the church are still “playing” that game. But, it isn’t a game. And, it is acted out in the “dirt” of daily crux of relationships and responsibilities.

In the church of Jesus Christ the rules are different, they are the exact opposite in fact. The way up is down, the way to life is death to self, (Phil 3:8; Matthew 10:38). We place God’s agenda above our own and seek to make him the King of all of who we are.  Our goal is to advance his ethic of love and forgiveness, (Matthew 28:19-20).

Because life is precious we take serious the biblical commands that are centred around the “one-anothers”, (Romans 12:3-21).  In the community of the redeemed there is a mutual recognition that on our own we cannot make it, (1 Corinthians 12). We need each other to “spur each other on to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24). I, therefore, cannot claim that I am superior to you! How dare I!

The spiritual leaders of the church still need to recognize their need to practice these good works. Too often, I have seen those same leaders act as if they are above the necessity of daily practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer, love, and diving into the Bible, realizing that they too need to confess their sins. Some of these people have forgotten that they have reached where they are because did practice them at one time, not because they deserve to be there!

Whoever you are, whatever title you have in front of your name, you would do well to remember who actually is the King! It isn’t you, it is the One who “bought you with a price” to remind you that “you are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Friends, we must live in the light of the truth that Jesus Christ is the true King of the mountain in our lives! How is it going for you?

For His Glory,

Pastor Bill Finch

finch1959@gmail.com

A life in review 

If you permit me, I would like to take a few minutes to do a review. It is a sad tale really. It is a tale of bad decisions and misguided passions. 

One advantage of growing older, or I should maybe use the word “maturing”, is that one can look back and learn from mistakes and bad decisions that were made. There are no “do overs” in life, you just hope that you learned from the bad experiences of the past. 

1. Value people and places

I have moved our family from London, Ontario to Grand Rapids, Michigan to Edinburg, Texas to Buenos Aires, Argentina back to Edinburg, to Montreal, to Tillsonburg, Ontario to Calgary Alberta and to wherever the next stop is. Each of those places holds significant people, experiences, and memories for us. Also, each of them could have been much longer, deeper, richer and more satisfying stays. 

What I know now is that one must dig his roots deep in the soil in order  to reap satisfying results. We left places before they began to really turn the corner in a positive manner. I did not see what I had in terms of deep relationships with people and congregations. I took that way too lightly.  

2. The Momentary vs the Enduring

When I was younger I put more stock into the appeal of the next thing than I did into being faithful in the current assignment. I allowed others to speak into my life saying how bad the current situation is. Instead of hunkering down and ignoring those voices I allowed them to sow seeds of bitterness and “the grass is greener” mentality. How could I allow that to happen? Why didn’t I shut down those thoughts before they got too carried away in my mind, and especially in my heart. 

The enduring ministry is that God can work in spite of the negative things we see around us. There is a greater ministry that God has called us to, there are people who are cheering you on that you become blind to when you focus on the negative. 

3. God is Faithful 

Forgive me if I get carried away in this post.  It is part confession and part therapeutic on my part. Do I wish I had made better decisions? Of course I do! I would long to be in those places to see the Lord turn things around! All of those places where we have been have experienced tremendous growth and blessing from God. If I would have faithfully planted myself and not listened to the negative voices, I would be able to see that God is faithful to His work, be it the church or the theological training school. 

In each of the places we have been there are wonderful friends who are brothers and sisters in Jesus. I love them deeply and my life is a compilation of their contributions to my life. I am eternally grateful for the Alejandro’s, the Alex’s, the Wilson’s, the Austin’s, the Fuller’s, the Michael’s, the Ferguson’s and the countless others who have made invaluable contributions to my life. 

The story of our life and ministry is not over yet. My prayer is that the Lord would grant us many more years of faithfully serving Him.

For His Glory,

Pastor Bill Finch

Being a Difference Maker

DifferenceMakerI really enjoy sports!  I mean real sports like hockey, baseball, football, and occasionally basketball.  I follow my teams with great interest and passion. Our family has spent much time travelling to cities to see those teams in action.  For us in Canada, Saturday night is hockey night, it is almost as important as going to church (notice the word “almost” lest you think I have really lost it!).  But, to actually coach a team or develop a strategy for how to run the “power play” or to play “shorthanded”, would be next to impossible for me.

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Does it Hurt? 

“Does this hurt?” “How about here?”  At certain times all of us have heard those words from a Doctor who is checking out what physical problem we may have. I recall running across the lawn of a neighbours’s yard and not seeing the little wire fence in the dark of night, tripping over it and breaking an arm! It wasn’t difficult for the emergency room nurse to tell I had a problem as my arm twisted in the wrong direction!

Less obvious are the spiritual wounds we carry around that come as a result of our own sin, and that of others. Emotional wounds that were inflicted by a parent, a spouse, or another person we trusted, carry their own set of damages that leave scars. We human beings have an uncanny knack of hurting one another, sometimes we don’t even realize that we do so. But when we put our needs and wants before serving God and others, we cause damage. And, the result is that we ourselves become twisted emotionally and spiritually.

The twelve men who followed Jesus Christ were not exempt from this malady.  You will recall that one of their most heated discussions had to do with which one of them would be the greatest, the most important, when the kingdom of God reigns on the earth! Really? How could it be that after the Lord announced to them that he was going to be delivered to the Jewish authorities to be killed, that these men thought it correct to discuss the place of their importance! However, without them even knowing it, these men, in a spiritual sense, began to inflict themselves with a world of hurt. 

Whenever we begin to think about “me first”, like the disciples did in Jesus’day, we unknowingly begin to hurt ourselves. We convince ourselves in thinking that this is something we deserve! But unless God is the one who gives it to us, our striving for position or priority actually hurts ourself, and those closest to us. We unknowingly trip over the neighbour’s invisible wire. Our attitude needs to be that which places God first, others second and me last. 

Here is the sad thing we need to acknowledge, repent of and confess: the church has been the cause of this type of pain. To be specific, I’m not talking about the church as in the building, rather the church as in people who have knowingly hurt people. We have run over people in our effort to establish our agenda (we use “spiritual” language to do so!).  We turn member against member. Sooner or later God will call us to account as to what we have done! 

A Holy Spirit led, driven movement of God is not that. It is one where God’s people confess their sins one to another, and they don’t allow hurts to trip up God’s agenda. It is a movement in which the fruit of the Spirit is evidenced and God’s agenda takes first place. Nobody needs to ask who gets the credit but rather everyone knows it is God who gets the glory all day, everyday. 

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! May we treasure him, and may that be reflected in our desire to encourage others to do so as well!                                                                

Throwing in the Keys

villagechurchlaunch

Village Church Calgary Launch

Tests. No, not the academic type that you can study and prepare for but the “James chapter 1 verse 3” type: “…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”  The thing about the life of faith is that you don’t get to choose what type of test God will give you.  I want to share with you how God has tested our fellowship of believers the past year.

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