Apr 22, 2014

Wisdom: Blessings for Life and Ministry

by Beverly Kay

After coming away from a weekend around the table with the Study Commission on Doctrine; after looking at the areas of concern our pastor’s face daily in the front lines of ministry; after becoming more fully aware of the current financial needs of the FMCiC (or of our local church, or personal family); after praying over fellow ministers in the Family who are battling disease or broken bodies I have become keenly aware of our great need to ask God for wisdom.

As the Lord would have it, I find my own personal quiet times with Him have brought me to the Book of Proverbs. Today I carefully studied the principles for life found in the father’s admonition to find, gain, preserve; to hold tightly to Wisdom. As I looked into the face of Wisdom and its many benefits, I felt compelled to share my insights with my fellow followers that we might all be encouraged to understand the depth of our need, and the breadth of blessing that comes through this great gift of our God.

What is Wisdom? Its root is in the ability to be wise; to have good judgment, sound (full, complete council), to be prudent. Wisdom is the power to judge rightly based on full council of knowledge, experience, and understanding. It is following the soundest, surest, most beneficial course of action. In other words, as a Christ follower, to gain wisdom it takes time, perseverance, and determination to pursue and never settle for anything short of God’s very best course of action.

Why make the effort and take the time to pursue wisdom? Although this is far from exhaustive, looking at Proverbs chapter 3, verses 13 – 26 reveals that the list of blessings for our lives and ministries is great. Wisdom is (14) more profitable, yielding greater benefits than either silver or gold. Wisdom is (15) of greater value to our lives than rubies. Wisdom is (18) a tree of Life and a source of blessing to those who embrace, fully accepting its authority in our lives.

Wisdom is accompanied (13, 21) by understanding (insight), and discernment (the ability to separate and clearly recognize differences), and therefore are Life for us. Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge were in God, with God and used by God as He laid the foundation of the earth, gave order to the heavens, and separated the waters on the earth so that we might know good life on this planet (19, 20). Therefore it seems only logical that we will need them to safely journey through the troubles and trials, temptations and theories that we will face while we endeavor to do Kingdom work in a fallen world.

If we preserve sound judgment and discernment (protecting it, keeping it from corruption – 21) then our lives are blessed with safety (23), sure footing (23), rest (24) and peace (lack of fear – 17, 25) due to a confidence that is ours in the Lord (26), Who is at work through wisdom to keep our feet from being caught up in the snare (trap, danger, twisted truths) of the enemy. As a believer, this confidence can be sure because of the guarantee of all that is ours in Christ Jesus. Colossians chapter 2, verses 1-4 reveal to us that we “may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that we may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Paul wrestled in prayer for the believers that they would be unified by the complete understanding that can be ours as we are untied with Christ, us in Him and His Word (spoken, written, Holy Spirit illuminated) in us (John 15:7) Paul’s purpose was that “no one may deceive you by carefully crafted arguments.”

I must confess, my experience is limited; my knowledge incomplete; my understanding often restricted by my own bias. Only in Christ Jesus can we have fullness of understanding, and gain the deep treasures of wisdom. James reminds us that we can freely come, and ask God for wisdom, who gives generously to all without finding fault (James 1:5). God’s desire is that we would be mature and not lack no good thing necessary for living out the Life that we have in Christ. He wants us to discover the sure path, to never settle for anything less than His best response or course of action.

As we move forward in Life and in ministry, I pray that we will become workmen approved by God, who always seek to rightly handle the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2: 15, 16). That we would fully submit to its authority in our lives, being influenced through it by wisdom over the trends, godless chatter or carefully crafted arguments that would trip us up, cripple our faith and cause us to move and act based on fear rather than boldly walking in the confidence and blessings of godly wisdom. Be rich and abundantly fruitful in your walk with God, as you gain, preserve and walk in godly wisdom no matter what it is that you are facing or wrestling with these days in your journey with Jesus.

Apr 8, 2014

Focus on the Family

by Matthew McEwan

The birth of a child is an exciting time, and for my wife and I that’s how the year 2013 came to a close. Micah was born on his due date, December 31st at 2:30 PM. Expecting a child through the season of Advent and Christmas forced me to make alternative arrangements for both worship services and church and family events should our baby’s arrival have come early. I knew that Christmas Dinners and programs could continue without me, but for worship services a lay minister was willing to provide pulpit supply and for the Christmas Eve Communion Service I invited a retired minister (Rev. Arthur Perry) to join us and help serve the Lord’s Supper. While the world celebrated the close of one year and anticipated the dawn of a new year, my family and church family celebrated the safe arrival of Micah.

Leaving the hospital I was aware that the year 2013 could have ended quite differently for us and our story could have been one of sorrow. A hospital is one setting where Romans 12:15 (the people of God are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn) is in effect with full force. When some people in a hospital are welcoming a new life into their family, at the same moment you can find others on a different floor saying goodbye. Even in the labour and delivery unit, there are some families saying goodbye even before they had the opportunity to say hello.

After the arrival of each of my children I’ve left the birthing unit with gladness, but I’ve also experienced sorrow after the loss of a miscarriage. When my wife suggested that we have a service or a time of prayer, I found that I had no available resources. Although services for dedication or infant baptism are common and easy to find, there are fewer services for times of sorrow. Following the miscarriage I worked with the Study Commission on Doctrine to create a service to help begin the healing process for those who are grieving the loss of a miscarriage or stillbirth. Example of a service can be found here: http://fmcic.ca/index.php/en/who-we-are/position-papers/4-who-we-are/position-papers/899-service-for-miscarriage-or-stillbirth.

It’s not just a miscarriage or still birth that can cause sorrow, but also issues of infertility. Couples facing infertility and childlessness need empathy and support, and the Church must be equipped to deal with that form of loss. Unfulfilled hopes and dreams of a family are not instantly healed with the possibility of adoption. For couples seeking emotional healing with regards to infertility, good pastoral care and even counselling are needed.

There are a few examples in Scripture of women dealing with infertility, but perhaps the most striking example is Elizabeth in the Gospel of Luke chapter 1. The Gospel begins with Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth being described as being honourable people who were “…righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). The next verse says that they were childless and in that cultural and historical context most would have assumed this couple’s barrenness was a form of God’s judgment. Like Job’s friends who accused Job of sin for the cause of his suffering, or the disciples asking Jesus about whose sin was to blame because a man was born blind in John chapter 9, the stigma of infertility was such that Elizabeth said on the birth of her miracle child, “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people” (Luke 1:25). This is a strange statement coming from Elizabeth since we’re told that even though she was righteous in God’s sight, her infertility was a source of disgrace among the people. While people today may not automatically equate infertility with sin or God’s judgment, couples facing childlessness still experience significant sorrow and grief much like the stories in Scripture whether one considers Sarah, Hannah or Elizabeth.

Again I return to Romans 12:15. It is easy for people in the Church to celebrate with a couple on the safe arrival of a new baby, but we are also called to mourn with those who mourn. Congregations that over-emphasize family ministry, family events and family programs may unintentionally make a couple mourning because of childlessness feel isolated. The Song of Songs presents a relationship between a man and a woman with no references to children. There is certainly a mystery to the sad reality that some who want children are unable to conceive, others may want a child yet experience a miscarriage, while still others choose to have an abortion. The challenge for the Church is not to understand this iniquity or even attempt to explain it, but simply rejoice with those who rejoice, and have awareness, empathy and sensitivity to be able to mourn with those who mourn.