If anyone knows our family, then you know we like sports. I like to think my children get the athletic genes from me, but I know they clearly take after their father. Sports just come natural to them and they all seem to have a little bit of a competitive spirit. My younger two children have enjoyed racing in triathlons. This is a very interesting and tough sport because you compete different distances in swimming, biking and running. So basically you need to be pretty good at three sports, know how to transition from one to the next, know about swim technique, how to handle and draft in a bike pack and understand how to save some endurance for the final leg- the run.
Now in order to do all of this, a triathlete must also have equipment. Just to give you a snapshot you need a bag of various swim equipment to practice different techniques, a bike, a helmet, bike shoes, biking clothes, running shoes, running gear, a good training watch, a wetsuit, a coach and lots of energy. You might be wondering where this analogy is going, but stay with me...
In our staff meeting this week we looked at the familiar passage of Ephesians 6:10-20, “The Whole Armour of God.” As my son was collecting all his equipment for practice…the shoes, the helmet, etc, I started thinking about how God is asking us to equip ourselves to walk through the various trials and pathways of life. I’m not suggesting, of course, that sports equipment is the same as the spiritual armour that God is talking about in Ephesians, nor am I diminishing in any way the seriousness of this scripture. I’m simply making a connection to the fact that God tells us how to dress and be prepared for the battleground and that it is real. If you haven’t read this passage in a while, I suggest you give it a quick read and be encouraged by the strength and instruction that can be found within it. The passage begins with,
“Finally, be strong in the lord and in the strength of his might.” Right from the start, God is telling us that He is powerful. He brings hope to every situation-any weakness, discouragement, test or trial……He understands us. He wants us to be equipped and ready so that we may ‘stand firm’. Unlike getting ready for sports, we don’t need to have the best equipment, or worry about technique – God is supplying the ‘whole armour’ and He goes with us.
Tanya Chant, Director of Family & Children's Ministry
Oh man, how great was Impact Sunday?? That's a rhetorical question, because I already know it was amazing! It is so encouraging to hear stories of how God is working in and through His church. As I was planning out the music for the service last week, I just kept thinking of how important it was that the service not be a celebration of our own achievements, but instead recognize how God is working powerfully through His people. At our Wednesday practice we talked about how God is the ultimate Creator; that anything we are able to do is because He has enabled us to do it. Anything we can make, anything we can imagine is only possible because He has known it first.
He is the one who gives us life (and life to the fullest)!
This Sunday, we are going to learn a new song together that continues on that same theme. The song is called “Yet Not I, but Through Christ in Me” by CityAlight, and the words of the song remind us that whatever we have, whatever we do that honours Him, we can only do through the work of Christ in us. The words of verse three are especially significant in light of some of the testimony we heard this past Sunday, and they say this:
No fate I dread I know I am forgiven
The future sure the price it has been paid
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon
And he was raised to overthrow the grave
To this I hold my sin has been defeated
Jesus now and ever is my plea
Oh the chains are released I can sing I am free
Yet not I but through Christ in me
The gospel message summed up in a beautiful picture of our freedom and forgiveness in Christ. I'm so excited to sing these words with you on Sunday as we worship Jesus together in victory!
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
Jolene Sanders, Director of Worship Ministries
There have been key times in my life when I have grown in my spiritual walk with Jesus. I’ve been thinking about these when reflecting and preparing for our current preaching series at Calvary. Click here to see an overview
As I thought about it, there were key times in my life where I really had to lean in God’s grace and ask him to help me in a situation where I didn’t have the means to see clearly what I was to do or how I had to react.
A few examples come to mind…
The first time was I when I was serving at a camp. I was 16 years old and hired to lead a cabin of 8 guys ages 6-8. It was tough, I was inexperienced, and I was feeling the weight of trying to keep the group together and, in some way, show them the love of the Saviour and help them take the next steps in saying yes to God. They were unruly, rude, and there was a pack mentality where the strong would devour the weak. Through that trial I realized that I didn’t have the resources to survive the summer. I remember sitting on the swing set with my Bible in my lap, reading the Psalms and praying them out loud for God to move. I saw God grow me through that situation as I had to depend on Him for my strength and I saw Him use me in the kids’ lives over the course of the summer.
I remember the first year I was away from home at University. For a most of High School I was looking forward to going to Western University (London, ON). I couldn’t wait to launch and start life on my own. But in the first semester I questioned what I had done: I was on my own. I had no roommates and knew only a few people. School was busy and I had to do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and learning. I was lonely and really feeling like I might have made a mistake with my life. It was then that God provided some people to reach into my life and challenge me to go deeper with my faith in Jesus. They pushed me to make my relationship with Jesus mean something in my life. They pushed me through the trial to grow. It was through that trial that I grew and God changed my heart more into what He needed me to be.
These are just a couple of examples but the truth is that when the tough stuff comes in life, we have a choice on how to respond. We can either choose to lean into God and grow, or we can lean out and become stagnant in our walk with Him. I could go on and tell other stories of waiting on God to provide a child when we were longing to be parents, when we weren’t sure we would or could be. I could tell you stories about watching God provide for us when we were stretched thin after getting married. We leaned into Him through the trial and through it we grew.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 5:3-5
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
See what Paul is saying – he is saying that when the tough stuff comes, know that God is still working and wants to do something in your life as you respond to the challenges. This is something that we don’t always think about at the time, but the reason for me writing this to you is to remind you to always be thinking ahead to what God is doing.
Every Canadian knows who Wayne Gretzky is. Gretzky was an exceptional hockey player because of his ability to always think four or five moves ahead. This can serve as an example of how Scripture encourages us to rejoice in the face of trials: When the tough stuff comes, we need to be thinking about what the next move is and then respond in light of this.
The Apostle Paul says that we can actually rejoice in the tough things of life, not because we take pleasure in suffering (Christians are not masochists) but because, “we know that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance [produces] character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3–5). When we think several moves ahead, beyond our present suffering, we can live in hope—and hope is cause for rejoicing. This is what spiritual growth looks like.
As we learn about “How to Grow” over the next few weeks I hope that you will be encouraged to see that the tough stuff in life can actually be use by God to help us to grow. Tough teaching but I believe it is Biblical.
Don’t waste the tough stuff – allow God to use it to shape us into the image of His Son Jesus.
Pastor Aaron Groat
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