Today, as part of this year’s vision of Disicpliship for the Seventh-day Adventist Conference in Ontario, they’re holding a ministries convention in Richmond Hill called DiscipleSHIFT. Some of our ministry leaders along with myself are attending the various seminars which are designed to educate and train leaders in different ministries about what discipleship means or looks like in our churches and the 21st century. What do you think of when you hear the word discipleship? Do you think of discipline or following Jesus or something else? When I think of discipleship, of being a follower of Jesus, one common theme always comes to mind. It is found in Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” To me, this is the essence of discipleship. This week during prayer meeting we had a great discussion about what it means to be consumed by Christ and it got me thinking about what we understand when we think of the term disciple. Luke 9 is both a reality check and a litmus test for the Christian and lets us know that perhaps there needs to be a “shift” in our understanding of discipleship. Our speaker today is one of our own members who recently became a father, Ken Urizar. He’s a very gifted Sabbath school teacher and I’m sure his sermon will challenge and inspire us as we discover the topic of “Sonship”
Today is a momentous occasion for our church for two reasons. First, we’ve always loved and supported our Adventurer and Pathfinder programs for our young people but we’ve never had a Master Guide club at our church. Being a Master Guide is the next level of leadership Pathfinders can pursue after they finish their program and is a tremendous honour to achieve. The classes teach our Master Guides to be skilled and Spiritual leaders and as of last fall, we’ve begun a ministry for those interested in this pursuit with Eduardo as the leader. Today the Adventurer, Pathfinder and Master Guide director at the Ontario conference, Pastor Edwin Martin, will be leading out in our first Master Guide induction ever ceremony at Bronte. The second reason today is special is because it’s the International Global Youth Day for our church worldwide. This morning some of our young adults are partnering with young Seventh-day Adventist Christians around the world and will be going out in with Open Door to “be the sermon” in the community to feed those less fortunate. You can follow them by searching the hashtags #GYD19 #bethesermon and #bethesermon2019 in your social media. Thank you for your support of all our youth ministries at Bronte!
Well, it’s that time of year again! This Sunday we lose one hour of sleep in the morning as we set our clocks forward. But even though this may bother some, I love it because it means that spring, warmer weather and longer days are just around the corner. Not to mention that we won’t have to drive to and from work in the dark. As a pastor, I noticed that many stories about God in the Bible have the same feeling. To some, the same story can be great but for others, bothersome to say the least. For Christians, we read a story about God and we accept it because we know what God is like. But what about those who don’t know the God of the Bible? What happens when they read a story where God’s actions don’t make sense, stories like the one we’ll be looking at today. Let me ask you, what do you think of when you read the story of the flood in the Bible? What kind of image do you get of God in that story? As we move through the topic of getting closer to God this quarter, I’m glad you came to Bronte today because even though on the surface the story of the flood can strike us as odd or even downright troubling, we will learn something new about the character of God.
Have you ever been through a trial? Are you going through one right now? What does the Bible say about our trials? Our scripture text today says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” James 1:2 As we journey through a series this quarter on having a closer relationship with God, we can’t miss this opportunity to talk about one of the spiritual disciples that none of us actually choose, but can be one of the best teachers, trials. Today we will explore our responses to trials and how we can learn more about God through them. We’re glad you came and we look forward to experiencing God’s blessings as we worship Him and study our topic together. Also today, some of our Pathfinders are in Oshawa with their families and our fearless director Ian Beckford, competing in the Pathfinder Bible Experience. This is a competition where, this time, they will be tested on their Bible knowledge of the Book of Luke. Please keep them in your prayers as they have now reached the conference level of the competition and are representing our local Bronte church.
We have a powerful men’s ministry department here at Bronte that empowers, trains, and inspires the men of this church to be God-centered, good examples to their families, and mentors to the young men of this church. Today they have invited Pastor Orlando Pule to be the guest speaker for the Divine Service. One of the several roles Pastor Pule has at the Ontario Conference is the Men’s Ministry Director and he has graciously accepted to join us, along with his wife, Pastor Elizabeth Pule, and his 3 sons Gabriel, Isaiah, and Samuel. We pray that the service today will be inspiring for everyone, old and young, male and female, as we grow in our spirituality and relationship with Jesus Christ. This week please pray for the men of our church!
During the Ontario provincial election in 2007, Dalton McGuinty of the Liberal Party promised that, if re-elected premier, he would establish a provincial holiday in February. On October 12, 2007, the provincial government established Family Day on the third Monday in February. As we celebrate our relationships with our families this weekend, let’s ask ourselves: what can I do to make my family/loved ones feel a little extra special? It can be as simple as spending some quality time together, but the point is to be intentional in your plans for the people you care most about. Knowing their love language would help but if you don’t know what that is, ask yourself, what would that person appreciate the most right now and how can I help them feel loved. While every family and relationship is different, I encourage each of you to take advantage of this holiday! The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. This family day, let’s follow Jesus’ example and not wait for someone to do something for us but do something for someone we love.
This quarter we are looking at who God is and how we can develop a closer relationship with Him. In anticipation of this week’s message let me ask you a question: have you ever felt overwhelmed? Have you ever felt anxious about finishing a project on time or paying a bill before the deadline, catching your flight when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for lab results to the point where the pressure is unbearable? God knows that we all face the temptation to worry about things in our lives, but the good news is, He hasn’t left us alone. Recently Amazon released a list of the most popular passages in some of its bestselling books, such as The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter series, and Pride and Prejudice. Also released, the most highlighted passage in the Holy Bible. Can you guess what it is? Most people, including me, expect it to be something like John 3:16, Psalm 23, or the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. But, no, it was a less prominent text, but one that’s striking a deep cord in today’s worried world. If you want to find out what it is, have your Bible’s ready during today’s message when I share it. May God bless you as we learn more about Him together and how he helps us when we feel overwhelmed.”
Have you ever seen a diamond? They are one of the most beautiful gems in the world. What’s interesting to me is how they’re made. As most of you know, a diamond is created when carbon is subjected to tremendous pressure deep inside the earth. Today, history was made back in 1905 when the largest diamond was found and dug up from the earth in South Africa. The diamond found weighed 3106.75 carats or 621.35g and the value is estimated at 2.6 billion dollars CAD. That’s a lot of money for one diamond. Today I want to take a moment to remind you that to God, you are valued more than anything in this world, so much so that in Romans 5:8 and John 3:16 it says that God gave his life for us. Why would He do such a thing? One word, love. Today, this week, never forget how much you’re worth and that God loves you.
In anticipation of this week’s message let me ask you a question, have you ever felt overwhelmed? Have you ever felt anxious about finishing that project on time or paying a bill before the deadline, catching your flight when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for lab results to the point where you can’t seem to handle the pressure anymore? God knows that we all face a very real temptation to worry about things in our lives but the good news is He hasn’t left us alone. Recently Amazon released a list of the most popular passages in some of its bestselling books, such as The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter series, and Pride and Prejudice. Also released, the most highlighted passage in the Holy Bible. Can you guess what it is? Most people including me expect it to be something like John 3:16, Psalm 23, or the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. But, no, it was a less prominent text, but one that’s striking a deep cord in today’s worried world. If you want to find out what it is, have your Bibles ready and listen to the message and I will share it with you. May God bless you as we learn more about Him together and how he helps us when we feel overwhelmed.
We’re a wonderful church family here in Oakville that lives by the word of God, represents the faith of Christ, serves our community with love and strives to be a voice of hope. Last week I was fortunate to spend the weekend at Camp Frenda with my family and a group of young adults from across the province. There was a group of young people from our Bronte church family who went as well. We enjoyed getting to know one another, playing games and listening to great speakers like Pastors Liz and Orlando Pule from the Ontario Conference. This is a once a year retreat called Refresh right at the start of every new year that gives young people a chance to get away and spend time reconnecting with God and making new friends in the beautiful setting of the Muskoka’s. One of the things that was said in a talk by Pastor Orlando Pule came in the form of a question, he asked, “Is the community around your church a happier place because you’re there? Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been around, are people happy you’re in their community or do they even know you exist?” This is a great challenge for me and to all of us. My dream is that we keep building on what we accomplished in 2018 and make 2019 a year that makes people even happier that we’re in this community! Please join me as we pray together and allow God to give us His vision and use us to make a positive impact in our community this year. Happy 2019!