Monday, December 10, 2018

Vision ➔ Action


For the past several months session has been putting together a proposal called Vision 20/20--a plan for the future of SPPC. One of the goals of this vision was to increase membership. 

Like many Presbyterian congregations, we are made up of members and adherents. Adherents are often faithful workers in the church but who have not taken the formal step of becoming members. On Sunday ten of those people officially joined the congregation of Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church, nine by affirmation of faith and one by adult baptism. Even though all ten of these people are long-term adherents, there was a special atmosphere of celebration to the service. Fittingly, worship included the sacrament of Holy Communion.  A high Sunday, indeed.


Another initiative of Vision 20/20 was the development of a prayer team specifically for this enterprise. Included in today's bulletin was this message from that prayer team, including the following points.

  • It is known that Christian prayer indicates the degree to which we are aligning ourselves with God's ultimate purpose.
  • God wants his lost children to be found and His church to grow.
  • God cares deeply for the church and for the lost. He desires us to care also.
  • SPPC will not grow if we do not pray for growth. Jesus said: "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Matt 9:38


The message asked the congregation to pray daily throughout Advent and beyond, including these prompts:


  • Pray for unity amid diversity. Eph. 4; 1-3  that our congregation may walk in a manner worthy of the calling God has given us. That we treat each other with humble and gentle hearts.
  • That we would seek the Lord 2 Chron 7:14-15. God has promised in scripture that He hears prayers. We call upon that promise as we seek guidance for the future of the 20/20 plan.
  • That we would pursue peace. Romans 14:19. Lord God, you desire peace and unity and encouragement for SPPC. Help us pursue what makes for peace. Give us discerning hearts and the courage to be obedient. On our own, we can do nothing, but we "...can do all this through Him who gives me strength." 
  • Phil 4: 13.
  • That we would follow Jesus. Luke 9:23-24. God has asked us to deny ourselves, tuke up our cross and follow Him. Through prayer we desire to become more and more like Jesus, individually as as a church body.


The above is a mere summary of the prayer requests. If you don't have the full script as printed in the bulletin, you can drop by the church and pick one up -- or pray what is on your heart.
Many thanks to the prayer team for offering such thorough and specific counsel on the type of prayer that the leaders of our congregation crave. Please do your part to bless this enterprise.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Real Christianity


Real Christianity by William Wilberforce 
Revised and updated by Bob Beltz


William Wilberforce was a most remarkable man, and has been described as the greatest reformer in history.   Millions of lives were changed because of Wilberforce’s determination to change the society of his day, and put an end to the slave trade.  Real Christianity gives the reader access into his theology, his spirituality and his passion.

This book was written 200 years ago and in his introduction Wilberforce states his purpose is to write about faith and to point out some of the problems with the beliefs and actions of those who already claim to be Christians.  He states he is disturbed when he sees the majority of so-called Christians having such little understanding of the real nature of the faith they profess.  So starts a book that is as relevant today as it was when it was written.

He divides Christians into two camps.  The cultural Christians who live a surface type of faith.  They are able to talk about religion in generic terms but rarely use the name of Jesus or speak of His death on the cross or His resurrection.  They do not recognize their sin and have no understanding of the work of the Spirit in their lives.  Authentic Christians are those who have a passion for Christ, they live lives of great excitement, true humility, hatred of sin, humble hope, firm faith, heavenly joy, ardent love and unceasing gratitude.
Wilberforce goes on to show how belief influences behavior of the cultural and authentic Christian. 

I am not going to go into the book in depth as I feel you should read the book. Ed, note: It is in our church library. Here is a 200 year old book that has as much relevance to Christians today as it did when written.  There are parts of the book that deal with practices that are no longer part of our world but it is easy for the reader to substitute current practices in today’s society.  Beltz has done an excellent job of modernizing the language but remaining true to the original text. 

We often look for "how to" books to point us in the correct way to do things.  I felt that after reading this book I was given a blueprint of how the Authentic Christian life should look.  I had a better understanding of what sin looks like, of what the Holy Spirit does in the life of the Authentic Christian and of how my love of Christ should be influencing my actions.  I will paraphrase one idea that resonated for me.  Wilberforce stated that if many Christians were on trial for being Christians, their cases would be dismissed because of lack of evidence.  I do not want to be that Christian.

“Real Christianity is all about living as Jesus lived and doing what Jesus did.  It is a must read for everyone serious about living all and only for Christ”. (Walt Kallestad)

Review by Linda Cliff