May 19, 2018
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I got to chatting with some of the younger generation at the lunch after my cousin’s funeral on Tuesday. (In this case, younger means somewhere around 60.)
Ron is executive director of an organisation that flys volunteers into remote northern communities to conduct Vacation Bible School in the summer and to maintain contact at other times in the year. They also hold Bible Studies with the youth in these communities, sometimes go into the schools to pray with the students and teachers. The people in these communities are mostly Dene, Cree and Ojibway. The outreach is well received, the Vacation Bible Schools reach 5,000 children every summer and the communities are supportive.
Jackie (not her real name) was the executive director of a faith-based addictions rehab centre. This was largely government funded and several years ago the government decided to pull their funding. An attempt was made to raise enough money through donations to continue, but it didn’t work out.
The government said they wanted to fund evidence based programs, not ones that were faith based. I wondered about that, especially when Jackie mentioned that many of their clients were dealing with guilt issues. That would probably be the sticking point. From the psychological point of view, feelings of guilt are the problem. Counselling is geared towards helping people free themselves of such feelings.
As Christians, we acknowledge that sometimes there are guilt feelings that torment the mind but have no real basis in actual guilt. At other times, the only effective way to be set free of guilt feelings is to recognize that we really are guilty. Then it can be possible to be forgiven and to forgive others. That is the way of deliverance. Don’t expect governments to understand that. At lest not in the times in which we live.
Thanks be to God, there are still many faith-based organisations out there that are funded by donations and are doing effective work that is beyond the reach of psychology and government.
July 13, 2014
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Nine years ago we were living in a little village north of Saskatoon. One day early in the year the phone rang and when I answered a voice with a pronounced southern accent said, “My name is Jay Bullock and I hear you are having Vacation Bible School up there this summer and I wonder if I can help.”
Wow! Was that ever an answer to prayer! I was part of a committee of a tiny congregation that was planning an outreach Vacation Bible School and boy, did we need help! Jay came that summer and has continued to come every summer since.
Jay runs a large hardware and building supply store down in Georgia and his idea of a vacation is to come up to Saskatchewan and lead a bunch of young sisters from all over the US and Canada who have volunteered to teach Vacation Bible School to 50 or 60 children in a suburb of Saskatoon. We are heading to Warman this morning for the worship service that is held the Sunday after Vacation bible School.
Many Christians today appear to believe the main goal of faith is to make them feel good about themselves. There are all kinds of “Christian” books available sharing the “secret” of self-help happiness. Funny that the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about that.
I believe Jay and those young sisters are acting on the true Biblical teaching about Christian life: it’s not about how I feel about myself, it’s about how I feel about you. It’s about whether I can forgive you, love you and show that I care about you.
We can invest all our energy into trying to make ourselves feel good, and those efforts will fail. Or we can invest our efforts into serving others and forget about ourselves. In doing that, we will find the happiness that eludes so many people, including Christians.
“And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
July 7, 2012
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Two weeks ago it was announced in our congregation that one more Vacation Bible School teacher was needed, for the oldest class. That sounded like something I could do, so this 70-year-old grandpa spent the past week teaching Bible lessons to a group of twelve and thirteen-year-old girls (no boys in that age group came this year).
A week ago, when I realized that I would probably be teaching only girls I requested a classroom in an area where we would be clearly visible, without a door. In that setting we were relaxed and comfortable and spent an enjoyable week together studying and discussing God’s Word.
We began each morning with all the classes standing in rows at the front of the church and singing the familiar children’s Bible School choruses. Wednesday morning, one of the songs jogged my mind back to an earlier time.
We were living in Moose Jaw then and were not members of any church. We heard that the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite congregation at Bredenbury, Saskatchewan was going to hold Vacation Bible School. My wife spent the week there so our five-year-old daughter could attend. Friday evening, when the program was held, the children walked in singing the same song that we were singing this Wednesday morning. Now, as I looked over the rows of children in front of me, I could see three of my daughter’s children who were attending this year’s Vacation Bible School, and my heart was filled with thankfulness for the blessings of God on our family.
We had determined back then that we would base our lives on a love for God and for His Word. The years have gone by; it doesn’t seem like many. But our daughter now has a husband and four young children, and they are basing their lives on that same foundation. Our son-in-law was the leader of the committee that organized this year’s Vacation Bible School.
I received a special boost one day this week when my youngest grand-daughter, attending Vacation Bible School for the first time, walked into my classroom just after lunch, gave her Grandpa a hug and then scampered away to play.
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89).
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matthew 24:35).