Pastor’s Blog

January 14, 2021
Grow
 
    At our elders meeting on Tuesday I asked, “Are you reading or pondering anything
that is stretching you, pushing you to look beyond the neat categories that you have constructed, the box in which you have comfortably placed God? Or something that is
helping you go deeper in your relationship or understanding of God?” I would enjoy
hearing your responses to either of these questions.
 
    Our topic this Sunday is Grow. Grow implies movement, process, development,
change, maturing. Some definitions include:
    o  to increase by natural development, as any living organism or part by
assimilation of nutriment; increase in size or substance.
    o  to arise or issue as a natural development from an original happening,
circumstance, or source.
    o  to increase gradually in size, amount; become greater or larger; expand.
 
    There are numerous verses that speak to our growing in our relationships with God,
others, and in self-awareness. For example, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our
Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), “grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2), and “he who
began a good work will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
 
    Our growing spiritually does not just happen, it is not accomplished by simply taking
a spiritual growth pill or hooking ourselves up to a spiritual exercise machine while we
binge watch a Netflix series.
 
    In our ministry process Grow the intent is to provide opportunities and structures to
help us on our journeys of disciple becoming and disciple making. We will need to
develop ways that this can be done in-person and on-line.
 
    As you likely heard, the provincial government has extended the restrictions on
gatherings for two more weeks. May the peace of the Lord be with you!
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
January 7, 2021
Connect
 
   Our world was changing prior to Covid-19. Change has accelerated as a result of
Covid-19 and there will be more changes. The consensus is there will no going back
to the “good old days”.  Even when Covid is behind us a number of the shifts that have taken place will not be undone. We will live in the world and understand the world differently than we did in January 2020.
 
    Consider the ways your life has changed, the ways you have adapted, the things
you have had to learn because of the virus? Who would have imagined on-line
shopping at Superstore? Visiting with family and friends over Zoom. Zoom was off
most people’s radar 12 months ago. Now it is used regularly by us old fogies.
 
    Given our new reality a fundamental question is “How are we going to adapt to change?” In particular how will we move forward in our ministry and mission as the
people of Yorkton Alliance Church. Just to be clear, Jesus’s disciple becoming, and disciple making mission has not changed since he gave it 2,000 years ago. He was
clear. So, how do we move forward in 2021 and beyond in a world that has shifted.
This will be our focus for the next three weeks as we revisit and review our ministry process: Connect, Grow, Serve.
 
    Including this in our first gathering of the new year provides an opportunity to reflect
on our journeys and verbalize our declaration of intent to persevere in our pursuit of
God. There is power in making declarations of desire, of intent or commitment, of
setting a goal.
 
   In the midst of change may you experience the peace of God which can calm and comfort troubled hearts.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
December 31, 2020
Christ Follower
 
    Some of you were wondering who the pianist was in our Christmas Eve Service.
His name is Cody Obst, a friend of Laurel Teichroeb. He was looking for a quality piano
on which to practice and Laurel connected him with us. It is a pleasure to hear him
practice while at work in my office. Here is a link to his website www.codyobst.com.
 
    Looking ahead to Sunday. As part of the service, we will have an opportunity to renew
and affirm our desire to be Christ followers. Some faith communities do this annually. In particular, the Methodists. In 1775, John Wesley introduced a covenant service as an important part of spiritual life in the Methodist Societies.
 
    This service was done annually by Methodists for self-examination, reflection, and dedication, wholly giving up themselves and renewing their covenant with God.
Repentance through confession and commitment was a key focus of the service,
demanding humility from those willing to submit themselves to being Christ followers.
Here is a link that provides a short introduction to the Methodist Covenant Service https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpPH5JNGqqE.
 
    Including this in our first gathering of the new year provides an opportunity to reflect
on our journeys and verbalize our declaration of intent to persevere in our pursuit of God. There is power in making declarations of desire, of intent or commitment, of setting a goal.
It is not magic. But stating it sets a course, it orients us in a direction, it stirs something
within us.
 
    Since this is something that may be new for many, I have provided a copy of the service. This way you can become familiar with it and be better prepared to participate if you so choose. You can access it by following this link. I believe this can be a meaningful
experience for us.
 
    Thanks for being part of Yorkton Alliance Church. Here is a Celtic blessing as we head
into 2021.
I lay my head to rest,
and in doing so,
lay at your feet
the faces I have seen,
the voices I have heard,
the words I have spoken,
the hands I have shaken,
the service I have given,
the joys I have shared,
the sorrows revealed,
I lay them at your feet,
and in doing so
lay my head to rest.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
December 23, 2020
   Merry Christmas from Pastor Ron and Jan
 
    It is with thankfulness and gratitude that Jan and I are part of Yorkton Alliance
Church family. In March 2021 it will be four years. I remember well our arrival with temperatures of -30 degrees. It was cold outside, but we received a warm welcome.
We have been and continue to be encouraged by your ongoing support in a variety
of ways.
 
    In our 40 years of marriage, we have celebrated Christmas in many different places.
Some of those have been large gatherings of family, others with just a few family
members, and other times absent from family. So, in this year of Covid-19 it will be
without family and even without the opportunity to visit with friends. We realize for
many of you this will be your first Christmas isolated from family.
 
    Jan and my prayer for you is to be filled with great joy as you celebrate God’s gift of Emmanuel and that you will experience His power, love and presence in greater depths
in the coming New Year.
   
    We are truly blessed to be in Yorkton, and we consider it a gift from God. We look
forward to ministry and mission together in the year ahead.
 
    MAY YOU EXPERIENCE THE PEACE OF CHRIST
THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON
AND THROUGHOUT THE NEW YEAR
 
Grace and peace,
Ron & Jan
On Christmas Eve, we will be broadcasting a service of Lessons and Carols. You
will be able to light your own candles, turn down the lights and watch the service.
The service will be available on Youtube at 4:00pm on Thursday, December 24th.
 
December 17, 2020
   4th Sunday of Advent
 
    As you likely heard, the Provincial Government has extended and increased some
of the restrictions for gatherings until the middle of January, 2021. Therefore, we will
continue to meet online for another four Sundays. This is certainly an inconvenience.
Likely an even bigger frustration for many is what to do about family gatherings over
the holidays. This may be the first time you will not be able to gather with your extended
family or with multiple families. I have heard a variety of responses as to compliance,
non-compliance, or “creative” compliance to the regulations. The decision for Jan and
me was easy, since we can’t cross the border. However, that is not the case for many
who have family closer to home.
 
    We are certainly inconvenienced as a result of Covid-19 but let’s not lose heart or perspective. In that regard I make two recommendations. First, take some time to
process your feelings, the disappointments you are experiencing. A question I have
used is, “God, why am I feeling so…” (fill in the sentence with what you are feeling)
and then sit in quiet and listen to what the Spirit may say. It is good to write it down.
Second, I suggest three books to read that can give perspective: The Hiding Place, 
Corrie ten Bloom; The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank; and The Girl in the Green
Sweater: A Life in Holocaust’s Shadow, Krystyna Chiger. There are movies made
from these books, but the books are far better.
 
    The Scripture reading for Sunday is Luke 1:26-38. In reading the passage there
are three questions that came to my mind which I am working on for Sunday. I invite
you to read the passage and reflect on these questions:
    1)    What does this passage reveal about God,
    2)    What does this passage reveal about Mary,
    3)    What does this passage reveal about Jesus.
 
    I hope you will be able to join us online this Sunday.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
December 10, 2020
   3rd Sunday of Advent
 
    A number of years ago when we were living in Edmonton, I took Jan to the Jubilee Auditorium to hear The Messiah performed by the Richard Eaton Singers and the
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The Messiah was not my cup of tea but I knew Jan
would really enjoy the concert. Just as I was hoping things were wrapping up they had
an intermission and then there was another whole round! I found out later that we didn’t
even hear all of the 52 songs as most performances leave out a few!
 
    Something happened over the next 30 plus years because now I very much enjoy
listening to The Messiah and am moved when the choir sings the final song “Worthy is
the Lamb” and then the “Amen”.  
 
    So what made the difference going from indifference to great appreciation of The Messiah? The simple answer is that I took the time to read through the words and saw
how brilliantly Handel wove the story of Jesus from Isaiah’s prophecy of salvation, to His coming, His redemption, Passion, Death and Resurrection, the beginnings of Gospel preaching, God’s ultimate victory, the promise of eternal life, the Day of Judgment, the
final conquest of sin, and the acclamation of the Messiah. It concludes with “Worthy is
the Lamb to receive power blessing and honour” and the seven fold “Amen.” Listening
to the story being sung it is fitting for such an ending—declaring over and over “Amen”
“So be it.”
 
    It was not until I took the time to reflect on the words and the flow of the story that I
gained a deep appreciation for the power of The Messiah. Advent is a time to reflect
on the significance of what Jesus has done, is doing in our lives and the world, and
what He promises to do when He returns. May the magnitude of God’s love become
more amazing, rich, deep, awesome, heart-felt as we reflect on the lengths Jesus
went to in order to come to earth to show us the Father’s love.
 
    This is the third Sunday of Advent and the theme is Joy. The texts for this Sunday
are Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; and Luke 3:7-18. 
 
Grace & peace,
Ron
December 3, 2020
   2nd Sunday of Advent
 
This Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent. Due to an adjustment in the schedule we needed to move the last sermon in our series in Ephesians to the first Sunday of Advent.
So, we will do a little catch-up. Advent is often overlooked. We tend to rush straight into Christmas beginning on Black Friday. In doing this we leap over what I believe is a
significant time in the church year. Here is why.
 
    In Advent we recognize that all is not what it was designed to be, we see brokenness,
we experience brokenness, we are restless and feel dis-ease within us. In the midst of all
this there is a promise of One who will return to renew, restore, redeem, to put things right.
It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which sustains us on our journey.
 
    It is in these times that we are very aware of our need for a Redeemer, One who comforts and heals the brokenness in our lives. It is an ongoing process, and this process continues until He returns. As we experience his healing presence and anticipate his return, we can be encouraged by the prophet’s message, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
 
The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids who are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13). There is profound joy at the Bridegroom’s expected coming. And yet a warning of the need for preparation echoes
through the parable. But even then, the prayer of Advent is still:
Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel!
 
    I would encourage you to read and meditate on the Advent scriptures for this Sunday.
The texts are: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
November 26, 2020
Ephesians 6:10–20
   
    As you have likely heard the provincial government has announced new guidelines for churches. These begin tomorrow and go to 17 December 2020. As a result, we will NOT
be having in-person services for the next three Sundays. The Sunday services will be available online at 9:00 am each Sunday.
 
    Here is the rationale for going online only for the next three Sundays. The government
has restricted the attendance for churches to a maximum of 30 people. Currently we are averaging about 50 people per Sunday. Of that number between 40 – 45% do not register
in advance. This was not a problem since we were able to have a maximum attendance
of 75. However, with the new restrictions we would have to turn people away, not allowing them to enter the building. That would be very unfortunate and undesirable. So, we will be online only for three weeks. Thanks for your grace as we navigate these uncertain days.
 
    If you missed Bernie’s presentation on Sunday, it is available on YouTube. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM8kLj9Dw_s.
 
    This Sunday we will be wrapping up our series in Ephesians. Scott Fitzsimmons will be guiding us through Ephesians 6:10–20, putting on the armor of God.
 
    The road ahead has curves and twists, but the destination is known, and the way is
secure. Thanks again for being part of Yorkton Alliance Church.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
November 19, 2020
Devisive Culture
    
There is so much dividing people these days! Front and centre is Covid-19 with all the
loud disagreeing around ancillary issues including its origin, actual health threat, vaccines, mask wearing, restrictions of all kinds, circuit breakers, social and economic responsibility
of the government and what steps are needed to control its spread. People have taken up sides and seem committed to making their point of view known. There is ranting on
Facebook, name calling, talking past or over those holding opposing views, and reducing complexitiesto sound bites and slogans.
 
    When was the last time you listened to or were engaged in an actual conversation on a controversial topic? That is when two or more people who hold divergent views discuss
those ideas in an environment where one person speaks while the others listen, ask
clarifying questions in order to make sure they understand the speaker’s position and then share their views. A civil, constructive exchange of ideas.
 
    I believe one of the Accuser’s most effect weapons is to get people to take sides, defend their position at all costs and in whatever means necessary, and continually talk past the other. What would it look like if grace actually broke out and civility broke in? What if we
took a step toward following the advice credited to Philo of Alexandria, “Be kind, for
everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” What if we lived in a way that we saw
Christ in everyone?
 
    What is one step you could take to be a channel for grace to break out in your sphere of relationships?
 
    Looking forward to Sunday. Our District Superintendent will be preaching in the morning and making a presentation in the afternoon on the history of women in the C&MA and the General Assembly’s opening space for women to be elders. We are working to live stream
the presentation.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
November 12, 2020
Ephesians 5:15-6:9
   
    When moving to a new country there are “differences” that are encountered. For
example, moving from the United States I noticed an extra “u” in words like neighbor
and honor; the punctuating of spoken sentences with “eh”; the use of both knife and
fork in eating; or wearing something called a toque; and at least in Saskatchewan,
drivers stopping to allow pedestrians to cross at crosswalks. Being flexible I have
been able to adapt.
 
    The apostle Paul writes about life changes that goes deeper than mere cultural
differences. He describes a different way of knowing, understanding, and living for
those who are Christ followers. This new way of life draws on the wisdom and life of
Christ as opposed to living apart from and in opposition to Christ. This transition and transformation is challenging as it requires much more than adjustments in spelling or
eating habits.
 
    This Sunday we will consider how our new life in Christ looks as it relates to various relationships: wife and husband, children and parents, and employee and employers.
This new way for relationships is in sharp contrast to the cultural norms practiced in
their “old way” of living. The passage is Ephesians 5:15-6:9.
 
    Thanks for staying connected either in person or by live stream. As we are
experiencing increases in Covid-19 cases I encourage you to be diligent in our mask
wearing guidelines.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
November 5, 2020
Ephesians 4:25 – 5:14
   
    How are you doing? We are entering the ninth month of Covid-19 with all its ebbs
and flows and there is no end in sight. The economy is teetering, the political unrest is mounting. There is a whole lot of shaking going on and it spills over into relationships
and family life. So, how are you doing? Are you weary, fearful, troubled, sad, empty,
anxious, or generally at a loss? We are experiencing some life storms, and these are battering our lives.
 
    Although the present storms, many linked to Covid-19, may be unique they are not surprising. Storms in life: difficulties, challenges, sufferings, and hardships are to be expected. They are the training ground for faith development. Jesus shared a way for
us to experience stability in life’s storms. It’s at the end of the Sermon on the Mountph
(Matthew 7:24-27). The passage implies that life storms will be our reality. Stability
comes from building our lives on Jesus.
 
    Paul’s letter to followers of Jesus provides some very practical ways we can build
our lives on Jesus. As I ponder this letter four themes are emerging that help me to
see the dynamics of building our lives on Jesus; or another way of expressing it is the process of our spiritual formation. This Sunday the passage is Ephesians 4:25 – 5:14.
I will be sharing the four themes. Here is a summary idea I see from the letter. Drawing
on Christ, our life-giving and empowering source, as we walk in our broken way, is the
path to our being transformed into the likeness of Christ and experiencing life as he
designed and desires for us.
 
    There is strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
October 29th
Ephesians 4:17-24
   
    I do not have one particular way of preparing a sermon. As I sat with the text for this
week a variety of thoughts and questions came to mind. This was the starting point for
me. I invite you to read the passage, Ephesians 4:17-24, and then wait in silence and
see what comes to your mind. Here are some things that came to me as I pondered this week’s passage in light of all that we have covered in the previous chapters:
    ·        What would happen or change in my life if I actually believed what God says
about me is really true and I acted in a way that affirmed that truth?
    ·        That the truth is not that I am a wretch, but that I am a loved and redeemed child
of God who has blessed me in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
    ·        The degree to which I embrace the truth of my identity in Christ is the degree to
which I am alive and free.
    ·        Living into God’s design and desire is a process of transformation, an integration
of revealed truth becoming lived truth!
    ·        The challenge is our internal struggle to break free from the Accuser’s lies and attempts to keep our focus on living from the reference point of the futility of our minds
instead of on the truth that is defined in Christ.
    ·        The Accuser takes what is not true, what is not reality, and tries to convince us
it is in fact true!
    ·        It is the voice in our heads that says: you are not good enough, smart enough,
worthy enough, good looking enough…, God could not possibly be that good (see how
he let you down–again).
    ·        Sin is missing the mark of our design, which is to be whole people in and through Christ.
    ·        I am walking in the futility of my mind when I am looking in the wrong places for
my identity, significance, meaning, purpose, worth, security, value, and love.
    ·        We have it all (Ephesians 1) in Christ. Agree with Jesus. Christ in you is the hope
of glory! Let it out, live it out.
 
    Random thoughts. What came to your mind?
 
    It is encouraging to see those who are able to attend in person. I also appreciate those
who watch on-line.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
October 22nd
Ephesians 4:1-16
   
    At our last annual meeting a request was made to the Elders to consider the role of women in church leadership. In particular women as Elders. This was in response to The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) at a General Assembly voting to open eldership to women. This
was to be a matter for individual congregations to discern. The Elders have been discussing
this topic for a number of months. As part of the process we have read and discussed various theological views. Some of the resources are listed below. More recently we invited our District Superintendent, Bernie Van De Walle, to present on the history of women in the C&MA and the General Assembly’s opening space to invite women to be Elders. The presentation was informational and did not support or recommended a position for or against women as Elders. The discussion by the Elders, wives and Bernie was open and productive.
 
    The Elders would like to open the conversation to the congregation. Thus, we have invited Bernie to make a presentation to the congregation on Sunday, November 22nd. Bernie will be sharing his testimony during the morning service and then making the presentation at 1:30 pm. There will be a time for questions and discussion. The purpose of this meeting is informational. Our desire is to discuss, explore, and discern this topic together.
 
    This Sunday we will continue in our series in Ephesians. Madison is finishing her 10-week summer work program and will be preaching on Ephesians 4:1-16.
 
Grace and peace.
Ron
 
List of resources:
October 15, 2020
Ephesians 3
   
    We live in a dualistic world. You can slice it in a variety of ways: us vs. them, haves vs.
have nots, insider vs. outsider. It is lived out in our daily experiences. We separate
ourselves by our political affiliations, religious attachments, etc. and it shows up in many workplaces, pitting management against labour. What is implied, and often explicit, in a dualistic world is that your group, side, or team is correct and the other group, side, or
team is to some degree wrong, or misguided, or worse. Unfortunately, the poster child
for this is the presidential race south of the border. It is difficult to unite two groups
once sides are taken and opposing positions established.
 
    Paul in his letter, intended for churches in Asia Minor, is speaking primarily to
outsiders, or better, to those who were once outsiders. The Jews were the insiders, God’s chosen people. The Gentiles were the outsiders and they knew it and felt it. Now Paul is
saying that there is no longer any division or separation of insiders and outsiders.
 
    The two have been united into one. This is no easy feat. How can it be possible?
Consider all that would be necessary to accomplish such a task. Have you ever been an “insider” or an “outsider”? As such think about what it would take, not only to bring the
two together but to actually be reconciled with the side to which you were once in
opposition?
 
    The text for Sunday is Ephesians chapter 3. I encourage you to review chapter 2 as it provides context for the mystery Paul reveals in chapter 3.
 
    Don’t forget that you need to register for Sunday. You can call the office, email, or
register on-line. Thanks for your willingness to abide by the provincial government’s guidelines.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron