Mar 22 2013

C!C in the local newspaper

The Old Ottawa East community, which is the neighbourhood surrounding where Celebration! Church Ottawa meets for our worship services, has a local newspaper called the Mainstreeter.

Here’s the inclusion from C!C in the upcoming issue:

 

In the Neighbourhood, Around the World

“We are a small group, but we’re not afraid to dream big.”  This comment from a leader at Celebration! Church Ottawa (C!C) when reflecting on plans for the rest of 2013 and beyond.  The start up church, whose original group consistent of almost entirely university students, has made a big splash in the Old Ottawa East neighbourhood as well as in other parts of our city as they’ve grown.  And with one of their core values being to “meaningfully connect with both campus and community”, they see that widespread impact continuing.

Some of these efforts are: the C!Station children’s booth at the Main Farmers’ Market, help with local events like the Main Event and neighbourhood BBQs, Easter Lily sale for FREEDOM, kids activities in Brantwood during the Summer, and of course, their weekly worship gathering (10:30am inside Saint Paul Univ.).  While other local initiatives are still being planned, one interesting area of involvement that is blossoming is anything but “local.”

C!C has begun exploring a partnership with a small people group in the mountains of Honduras called the Tolupan.  In working together with locals and other invested organizations, C!C hopes to bring food, education, better health care, and better farming practices to a very poor, isolated, and often maligned group of people.  Pastor Jason Byers, who spent a week with the Tolupan in February, explains, “The reality seems to be that no one is looking to help these people.  In many ways, they are either forgotten or ignored.  So we want to do what we can to increase their quality of life in a way that honours their native culture.  This involves a lot of listening, and in time, helping.  The help would take many forms: food, supplies, tips on their coffee production, dental services, English lessons, and more.  We are also open with them about the role that Christianity plays in our quality of life on earth and in our hope of life after death.  Many people are curious about the Christian worldview, and so we are sensitive to communicating this truth, so important to us, in a way that could enable an indigenous church.  The bottom line is that we are trying to help meet legitimate needs without creating a sense of dependency.”

When asked why a small church from Canada would go to such great lengths in Honduras, Pastor Jason replied, “It really stems from who we are at our core.  Being loved by God and having a love for Jesus motivates us to serve other people.  The Bible points to that having an expression locally as well as abroad.  When we came across the Tolupan of Honduras, they sort of captured our hearts . . . much like the neighbourhood around our church has.”  Then he smiled and added, “And who knows, we have a big dream of one day having our own coffee shop that serves as a kind of home-base for our ministries.  Maybe we will serve Tolupan coffee.”

Maybe they will.  But for sure, they’ll continue dreaming big while offering a helping hand in the neighbourhood and around the world.

 


Mar 15 2013

Nature of Faith in Gratitude

In a recent Sunday sermon, we looked at Luke 17:11-19, where Jesus heals ten lepers and affirms the faith of the “foreigner” who returned after being healed to thank Jesus.

The main take-aways ought to have obvious and significant expressions in our daily lives and therefore deserve repeating:

1 … Jesus still shows mercy to those who ask. (What do you need to consistently bring before Him for mercy?)

2 … Genuine faith is evidenced in gratitude. (see below for expounding)

3 … Genuine faith becomes mission. (What impact on lostness, defined by Eph. 2:12, will you have?)

This idea of gratitude to God and Jesus for the work of life and salvation is important.  The Apostle Paul regularly instructs us to “be thankful”, to “overflow with thankfulness”, and “give thanks in all circumstances”.  In our culture today, gratitude and thankfulness usually find themselves directed toward temporal things.  We are thankful for our homes, jobs, cars . . . grateful for food and clothing and even for our “toys.”

One biblical scholar, though notices a different trend in Scripture:

A perusal of the Word provides a full list of large reasons to be grateful.

God is thanked for his deliverance (Ps 35:18), for loving us and being faithful (Ps 52:9; 107:8), for hearing our cry (Ps 118:21), for safe arrival after a long, arduous journey (Acts 28:15), for other believers and for the testimony of their faith (Rom 1:8), for the gift of salvation that enables one not to sin (Rom 6:17), for delivering us from our tendency to sin (Rom 7:25), for the spiritual gift of being able to address God (1 Cor 14:18), for resurrection hope (1Cor 15:57), for testimony, deliverance and victory in the midst of persecution (2 Cor 2:14), for the support of a colleague in ministry (2 Cor 8:16), for other believers (Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; 2 Tim 1:3; Philemon 4), for those who respond to God’s Word (1Thess 2:13), for being able to serve others for God (1 Tim 1:12), and for his attributes (Rev 4:9).  Those are just some of the options for thanksgiving.

Notice that this list includes not one item having to do with things, with possessions.  The occasions for gratitude all have to do with relationships or circumstances in relationship to others. (Bock)

 

 

In light of this, how’s your gratitude toward God, your relationship toward Him and toward others? How might your genuine faith better express itself in gratitude and thanksgiving?

I am convinced that if we consistently expressed the kind of gratitude described above, then the joy, peace and dependence on God that would flow out of our lives would certainly translate into effective mission.  People would see the God-radical nature of our Christ-exalting lives, and they would be drawn to Him.

Consider confessing and expressing some gratitude even now.

 

For the sake of the Name,

Jason

 


Jul 6 2012

And they’re off …

Whew.

Here I am, back at the computer after my smartphone reminded me that it’s time to consider my weekly blog entry.  Before plopping here in my desk chair, I was at Starbucks, sipping an iced coffee and filling notebook pages with thoughts about Luke chapter 10.  Before that I was dropping Zach at his place, and just before THAT I was standing in the Ottawa airport saying goodbye to a dozen wonderful people who gave the last week of their lives to diligently serve a neighbourhood in Ottawa, to favourably represent C!C, and to prayerfully advance the Kingdom of God.

I’m not going to spend very much time here because, quite frankly, there is too much to do to get ready for our first Sunday morning service in our new room.  But I wanted to record a brief sentiment of my appreciation for the crew from Eagle’s Landing FBC.

Some brief highlights:

  • I was deeply encouraged by the contrast of how young the team was and yet how mature and disciplined they were.
  • I appreciated their honesty in sharing their hopes and expectations for the week.
  • As is often the case in missions and ministry, flexibility (with a good attitude) is a major necessity . . . and the team owned it.
  • The team showed great boldness in having purposeful conversations without being “weird” or pushy.
  • I felt honoured by the grace the team showed me and my family, whether it was by helping watch the kids or not giving me a hard time through “intentional misdirections” in and surrounding Montreal.
  • One aspect of the team that was abundantly clear throughout their time and interactions with people and each other was that they simply loved Jesus . . . and they felt loved by Him.  This made them an absolute treat to be around.

So as I get back to work on the next round of tasks and calendar items, I’ll end with:

Thank you Eagle’s Landing Team, Thank You.  And Praise the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.