Monday, November 28, 2016

Leading with Care

Leading with Care is a policy of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, designed to keep everyone, especially children, youth and vulnerable adults safe in our church buildings and our church programs.  

The policy has been in effect at SPPC for several years. I first became aware of it when  the minister, elders, Sunday School teachers and others working with children were required to have a police check. Not something we usually associate with church membership but in our world it is a fact of life that volunteers must be screened.  

Since the implementation of Leading with Care by the national church, session members and other leaders receive training and support in all aspects of the policy.  A few of the most obvious measures include:

  • Guidelines for our facilities.  Rev. Irwin mentioned fire drill a few weeks ago.  
  • We keep a first aid kit, well-stocked and accessible. 
  • We have the AED (automated external defibrillator) hanging in the narthex. 
  •  Chairs, pews and other furnishings are kept in good repair to avoid hazards.  
  • Fire extinguishers are in plain sight.
  • Exits are clearly marked.  
  • Reminders about hand washing are posted in the kitchen and washrooms.
Most of these matters just seem like good housekeeping, but the Leading With Care program provides our session with a handy checklist and guidelines to ensure safety is everyone's priority.

In the secular world, landlords are required by law to provide and maintain a safe, physical environment.  In our Christian practice, the requirement goes beyond the standards of the law, striking to the heart of who we are as followers of Christ.  As the body of Christ, the church must do all in its power to follow His example,  to protect the vulnerable, to welcome them into fellowship, and to learn from them. 
Here is a quote from the preamble of the policy as posted on the Presbyterian Church in Canada website. 

The policy is titled Leading with Care because:
• our Lord modelled for us how to lead with care as He healed the sick and infirm,and welcomed the young, the weak, and the vulnerable
• it is our awareness that some people in our church need special protection
• it affirms our commitment to training and supporting teachers and leaders in our churches so that children/youth/vulnerable adults will grow in faith and the love of Christ in a climate of safety.
In Leading with Care there is a dual focus of safety and prevention, and training and support of teachers/leaders. In creating a safe environment, the church protects people,prevents abuse, and, if necessary, reports abuse. Through training, support and evaluation.

If you want to read the entire policy and checklists, go here.  They are available as downloads to your own computer.  You can also order a written copy.

Leaders in our congregation have undertaken a responsibility laid on them not only by the church but by scripture. 

 So keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock which the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he made his own through the blood of his Son.
Acts 20:28 (GNT)

 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.  Eph.4:11-12 (ESV)

Let us all encourage our elders as they undertake the work of Leading with Care in this congregation.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Report

Praying God’s Word – by Beth Moore

Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds

This book is simply a must have for your daily prayer time. Beth Moore has provided us with a scripture-based book that specifically addresses the strongholds that prevent Christians from living a truly free and spirit- filled life.

Beth Moore is a well-known author of best-selling books and Bible studies. She is a meticulous researcher and prayer warrior with spiritual insights in scripture that can only be a true gift from God. She tells us that God has called her to teach and that her best teaching comes from lessons she has learned the hard way! She confesses to the reader that; “This book is a result of my unquenchable desire to share one of the most effective approaches to the liberated life in Christ that God has ever taught me: praying scripture to overcome strongholds.”

Praying God’s Word is a topical prayer guide that shows us how to put into practice II Corinthians 10:3-5. “tearing down strongholds by captivating our minds with the knowledge of God” How do we practise this? By using God’s word in prayer.

 This book isn’t a Bible study, a novel or a book of advice. It is a scripture-based devotional resource. The author incorporates scripture in prayer form. You can use it for a few minutes a day or for several hours. You can use it for intercessory prayer as well. Beth Moore has organised hundreds of scriptures into fourteen chapters that address some of the most powerful strongholds of our minds. After all, the battlefield is in our minds. God’s word teaches us that our only offensive weapon in warfare (Ephesians 6) is the sword of the Spirit… the Word of God. We need to allow scripture to take captive our minds so that we can pray in the spirit and defeat our strongholds.

 What is a stronghold? The author explains that,” it is anything that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled, our callings remain unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective”. Are you holding on to past hurts? Do you need to pray for God’s help in overcoming pride, unbelief, insecurity, depression? Using scripture will plug you into His power to overcome these and so many more strongholds …… bitterness, anger, anxiety to add a few more.

What makes this book, Praying God’s Word, so inspiring to me is that Beth Moore talks us through the scripture in prayer form. She incorporates the scriptures into a form of prayer. I find this allows me to see a clearer picture, in plain language, of what God expects from me and wants to do for me. Yes, we can take the time and look up all the scriptures that pertain to our strongholds. Honestly, how often would we take the time, or have the time to do that? This book shows me quickly and specifically literally hundreds of scriptures that I can go to over and over again to pray for myself and others.

Taking our thoughts captive and presenting them to Christ using our Lord’s words in scripture is so empowering!

 Book Report by Ruth Rockliff

Editor's Note:  If you'd like to own a copy of this book, Ruth has several available.   

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Bible Study

On the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Bible Study group watched the movie "Luther" on Wednesday.  Fascinating insight into the character of Martin Luther and his time in history.  I particularly enjoyed Peter Ustinov as "Frederick the Wise,"

This coming week, we're beginning a new study by Jack Kuhatschek on the Letter of Paul to the Galatians.  Paul wrote the epistle to the church in Galatia because it was having troubles.  Questions of belief and practice plagued this early congregation.  As a consequence, Paul's letter gives one of the clearest statements of Christian faith found in the New Testament.  2100 years later, the words of the apostle resonate with the modern church as it struggles to remain true to its beliefs in a changing world.

The study guide includes 11 sessions, but don't worry if you can't make them all. There is no exam at the end of term. :-)
Time:  9:30 am on Wednesdays or 7:30 pm.
Place:  Ross Lounge, SPPC.
All welcome.  Bring your friends.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Remembrance Poppy

On Sunday we observed the Act of Remembrance during our worship service.  On Friday, across Canada and elsewhere in the world, nations will pay tribute to their soldiers, past and present, with parades, prayers and promises.  We do this in every community, large or small, because each has been touched by war, particularly The Great War of 1914 - 1918, and World War II, 1939 - 1945.  It was these two world-wide conflicts that reached into nearly every home and village of Canada.  Between the two conflicts, over 1.7 million Canadians served in the military, over 100,000 died, over 225,000 others were wounded.
 In the aftermath of such loss and sorrow, citizens felt a need to honour and remember their fallen, so they built memorials, some grand some simple, but all heartfelt.

There are more than 6200 war memorials across Canada.
     Sadly, Canada continues to lose lives to international conflict,  the Korean war, peacekeeping missions, the war in Afghanistan.  Despite the promise that The Great War was the "war to end all wars," and the oft repeated "lest we forget," the roll call of the dead and injured grows year after year.
  One of the most visible symbols of our common sorrow is the poppy, worn on the left lapel or over the heart, first adopted in 1921 when Anne Guerin, of France travelled to Britain and Canada to convince the Veterans Association (predecessor of the Canadian Legion) to designate the poppy as their symbol of remembrance. She was inspired in part by Canadian John McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Fields."
   Originally, the poppies were made by disabled veterans as a means to earn a small income for themselves and their families.  In 1996, the responsibility for manufacturing the poppies passed from Veterans Affairs Canada to the Royal Canadian Legion. Those donation boxes raise approximately $14 million per year. The money is used for programs and for financial assistance to veterans and their families. During the Legion’s annual poppy campaign, an estimated 18 million poppies are distributed in Canada and overseas.
  Traditionally the poppy is worn from the last Friday in October to the end of the day on November 11.  In 2000 a new tradition was born when crowds of people removed their poppies after Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa and placed them on the grave of the unknown soldier.  No organization ordered or requested or planned this deed.  It was a spontaneous outpouring of respect and grief from the people standing there that day.  Since then the tradition has spread to every memorial service in the country.
   The centre of the Lapel Poppy was originally black, reflecting the actual colours of the poppies in Flanders.  In 1980 the centre was changed to green to symbolize the fields of France, but in 2002 the centre was changed back to black.

   Because the lapel poppy has a tendency to fall off and become lost, many people like to secure it with a small Canadian flag pin. The Legion discourages this practice as they see the poppy as a sacred symbol of remembrance that should not be defaced in any way.  That said, they'd rather you wore a poppy with a pin in the centre than no poppy at all.  I've found this method of attaching the poppy, where I use the pin to catch the bottom edge of the petal, works well.
However you wear your poppy, wear it with respect and with gratitude.