Happy New Year everyone!
May 2020 be a glorious year for each of you as you have many and diverse encounters with the transforming presence of our Trinitarian God!
Our CTF Scarborough board met last night and we had a great meeting celebrating Jesus and his goodness! We looked back with deep gratitude to God and his faithfulness to us! We are also grateful for you and your generosity. We are still here after planting this church 10 years ago, everyone! And there is forward momentum! Shabba! (I’ll take one Sunday this month and give a report on this past year.)
We are looking forward to another blessed year. We had our friend and prophet, Isabel Allum, with us for our first Sunday of the year and the Lord, via her prophetic gift, was very encouraging! She confirmed so many of the promises that God has given to us through OUR prophetic voices! (Have a look on our YouTube channel when the file is up.)
Connection, Equipping, Outreach
Recently, Elsie and I listened to a talk by Michael Brodeur, who is a wise, experienced consultant to Catch The Fire churches. Among the many nuggets of wisdom that he dropped he mentioned this one that I latched onto. He said that the main difference between a church led by the pastoral gift and the church led by the apostolic gift (Eph 4:11ff) is this: the pastoral church gathers, cares and keeps. The apostolic church gathers, trains and sends.
I almost fell of my sofa when I heard that.
I have been saying out loud that Holy Spirit wants us to have three emphases in 2020: Connection (gather), Equipping (train) and Outreach (send). We are becoming an apostolic church, everyone! Yes, indeed, we will be pastoral, teaching, prophetic, evangelistic, wise and administrative. And every other gift that the Spirit gives us. But we will be primarily an apostolic church! … What that looks like remains to be seen as the Holy Spirit shapes us.
Pushing into God
None of these things are automatic. We need the empowerment of the Spirit. Further, we simply need to love and adore Jesus because he is loveable, adorable and so worthy of every ounce of devotion that we can muster up – and so much more.
We are starting with a fast (January 12-February 2) as a gesture of dependence on Jesus. We are saying to him, “Lord, we need more of you in our lives. Would you receive this fast as an offering of love and devotion to you, my King. We are pushing into you, Lord!”
Year of the Bible
Thus far, I’ve read the book of James every day this year and I am being challenged and instructed by it. As we think of the Word of God, identity and growth, here is what James, the half-brother of Jesus, has to say:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. – James 1:22-25 (NIV)
Part of the challenge is that we don’t always fully understand what the word of God is saying to us. It’s not always clearly relevant to our circumstances. Not many of us are Bible scholars, so we find it tricky to understand and apply. We will try to help with that. The main thing is to act in faith on what we know the Lord has said to us by his word.
Together, we will have a great year of connecting, learning, growing and keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!
Ramesh and Elsie