From the pastor, 2014 - 2015

oct   ·   nov   ·   dec - jan   ·   feb   ·   mar   ·   apr   ·   may   ·   jun


    Hope   (September 2014)

    The news is not good. Whether from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Nigeria, the Ukraine, or a host of other nations, the news is filled with reports of violence and destruction. Even in lands where peace prevails, earthquakes, floods, or other disasters occur seemingly more regularly and fill news reports daily.

    Reading the record of peoples in times past in the pages of the Bible, we quickly discover that our time and circumstances are not so very different from that of others through the centuries. War and violence, flood and famine, and problems of all sorts -- many but not all of human devising -- mark the record of our attempts to live together on this planet.

    What marks the narrative and experience of those who live by faith rather than by sight, though, is hope -- hope placed firmly in Godís unfailing love. Consider these words:

    Psalm 33: 13-19 - "From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling-place he watches all who live on earth -- he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine." (NIV)

    The psalmist who first wrote and sang Psalm 33 calls in verse 1 for the righteous to sing joyfully, because of confidence in God and in his word. He celebrates Godís goodness and his good purposes in creation, and his sovereign power in over-ruling the plans of those who would attempt to plan and rule over others.

    His confidence is not rooted in the power or technology of his time. The speed and power of the horse was the great asset and weapon of those who would remain and fight enemies and intruders, and of those who would flee the battle for safety elsewhere. Yet the psalmist is quite aware of the limitations and disappointments of hope placed in the horse: "Despite all its great strength it cannot save." (verse 17)

    Rather, real hope is rooted in the watchful, caring eyes of the Lord. God sees -- and cares -- for those who look to him. He will work with compassion to carry his adopted and beloved to safety.

    The psalmist concludes his reflection showing that his hope provides joy and peace:

    Psalm 33: 20-22 - "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you." (NIV)

    We live not only in the light of these reflections and promises from the psalmist, but also in the clear light of the love of Jesus, who came to defeat death and to rescue us from Godís judgements past, present, and future. He stood and suffered, and died and rose again in victory, assuring all who look to Him that God will not leave us behind nor forsake us in the midst of the struggles of life and death.

    May our hope in God, who has revealed himself so lovingly to us in Jesus Christ, give us the same joy and peace as we strive to live in our time and place -- even and especially amid the same threats and troubles that have beset people of every age and place.

      Your pastor, with great hope,

        James T. Hurd

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    Jubilee   (October 2014)

    Fifty years! We celebrate as Parkwood marks 50 years of life as a community of faith, a congregation of the Christian Church.

    It was on September 20, 1964, that Parkwood Church first gathered for worship together. Thus it is fitting that on September 21, 2014, we should gather to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of this community of faith and life.

    The number 50 holds interest and significance. In ancient Israel, God through Moses appointed a law, a celebration, and a new beginning to take place every fiftieth year. It was to be a year of joy. Land lost in times of economic hardship was to be regained. Indentured servants, or slaves, were to be set free. Families were to be reunited. A new, level field of fair opportunity was to be available to all.

    In our modern Canadian culture, we tend to view the number 50 as denoting accomplishment. Many long-time hockey fans will recall that the "gold standard" for goal scoring was the accomplishment of Maurice "Rocket" Richard of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1944-1945 season in the National Hockey League, when he netted fifty goals in fifty games. Fiftieth wedding anniversaries are "golden" -- often celebrated by those who are so blessed, and held up by others as achievements worthy of imitation. Fifty years of employment or service or membership in any field or organization is marked as a great and notable achievement.

    Yet in the biblical sense, rather than looking backward, the number fifty provides an opportunity to look forward. In the fiftieth year, the calendar was re-set, the value of land (measured in the number of harvests remaining until the next fifty year-mark) was restored to its full potential. The prospects for the future were what counted.

    It is good, therefore, for us to look backward and to celebrate how God has been faithful and what Jesus has enabled Godís people to accomplish in the past fifty years. It is better, though, for us to look forward and to grasp how much God will provide during the next fifty years, and how much He will enable us as His people to accomplish in advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The potential for our witness and service has never been greater than it is now, as we begin the next 50 years, with the confidence and achievement of the first 50 behind us, and the possibilities of the next 50 ahead.

    To God be the glory, as we celebrate life together as Godís people, and as we embrace the future as Jesusí followers and servants!

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    Samaritans Serve Strangers   (November 2014)

    Luke 10: 30-37 - In reply, Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ĎLook after him,í he said, Ďand when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.í

    Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." (NIV) In the story which Jesus told, known for centuries as "The Parable of the Good Samaritan," we are often encouraged to focus on the Samaritan who -- in contrast to the priest and the Levite -- actually helped the injured man found along the road. Much is usually made of the fact that the "religious" leaders (i.e. the priest and the Levite) were too busy or self-absorbed to care, and that the Samaritan (often regarded by the Jews of Jesusí day as a second-class citizen) did the right and God-honouring thing.

    All of this is true, and any of us in positions professing responsibility and leadership are challenged to examine ourselves, seeking to ensure that we are ready to meet others at the point of their need, regardless of our "busyness" in pursuit of what we think to be Jesusí business. To put it another way, our duty to God cannot be carried out while neglecting our duty to others.

    Yet the parable also highlights the fact that the one who is in distress is a stranger, and is encountered "on the way" -- on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. The one who needs help is not "kith and kin" -- he is not "of my tribe". He is a nameless stranger, found half-dead by the Samaritan who is travelling far from home. Samaria was north of Judea and Jerusalem, and Jericho east of Jerusalem. The Samaritan encountered this stranger a long way from home, in an inconvenient place. He had to transport him on his own animal, and most likely then himself walk, leading the animal and the passenger in distress to a place of refuge. There, paying for the strangerís lodging from his own pocket, he had to convince the innkeeper to tend the stranger, before continuing on his own journey.

    All of this is to say that the parable highlights for us not only our duty to love our neighbour (which is the point of parable, as Jesus answers the question posed by the "expert in the law"), but that the neighbour is not simply the one living next door, or the relative or friend or co-worker with whom we are familiar. The neighbour whom Jesus calls us to love as self includes those strangers who are encountered far from home and whose needs are far less convenient for us to meet.

    In our own time and in our city, many strangers have come to live. They are our "neighbours" -- broadly but biblically defined. Amid our easy and frequent travels in an interconnected global world, far more people cross our paths. They too are our neighbours, as surely as the nameless man on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho was the neighbour whom the Samaritan befriended. No such service is easy or convenient. Yet that was his calling, and it is that which Jesus praised.

    Jesusí application of the parable to the one asking, "Who is my neighbour?" -- and who answered his own question (after hearing the story Jesus told) by saying "The one who had mercy on him" -- was terse and to the point: "Go and do likewise". May we do so too, each of us, as God places strangers in, or causes them to cross, our paths.

      Your pastor, striving to see and serve as the Samaritan,

        James T. Hurd

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    Gifts for the world   (December 2014 - January 2015)

    1 Corinthians 12: 4-5 - There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. (NIV)

    In preparation for Christmas celebrations, our attention is often drawn to gift-giving. On a recent Sunday, we dedicated some 69 shoeboxes, which our Mission Team sent off through Samaritanís Purse to children around the world.

    At the "Roots and Wings" conference sponsored by the Presbytery of Ottawa, held in mid-November, guest speaker John Bowen challenged us to consider how we equip and empower Christians to serve -- not in church, but in the world. One of the practical suggestions was for each congregation to consider a "gift inventory". Usually an inventory of spiritual gifts is intended to help each individual member of the church, and the church as a whole, to identify gifts for service, so that all members may work together for the health of the whole body of Christ. Such an inventory is good, and facilitates members of the church working together.

    Yet if the primary orientation of the church is toward the world -- to serve the world, and in so doing to share with the world the good news that Jesus has come to offer life and love to all who will receive these gifts -- then the primary place for Christians to serve is out in the world. Nurses, for example, do not principally serve within the walls of the church (though they may provide first aid in the church building when needed!), but in the hospital, where they care for people from all walks of life who are in need. Gifts for service -- whether to make videos, engineer telecommunication products, administer safety standards, teach language, or hundreds of other undertakings that contribute to the well-being of society -- are first and foremost offered in service in the world at large.

    In writing to the Corinthians about spiritual gifts, Paul goes on to say: "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7, NIV) Surely he intends us to understand that "the common good" extends beyond the confines of the fellowship of the church. Making and sharing an inventory of our gifts with others within the fellowship of the church is not first or primarily an attempt to have a catalogue of who is able to do what as volunteers within the church. Rather, such an inventory would assist us to appreciate one anotherís giftedness, and enable us to pray for and affirm each other in the work that God calls us -- each in a different way, with our different gifts -- to do in the world. In such work, the church as a whole advances the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Each of us advances Christís work in reconciling the world to Himself as we strive to employ the gifts Godís Spirit has given us. When we serve with excellence, with the capacity that God has given to us, we honour God. We plant seeds that may cause others to give thanks for our contributions and which may open the door to our being able to share more deeply and specifically the reason for our service: that we are exercising the gifts that God has given us because we give our lives in service to Jesus, in thankfulness for His service to us in His life and death and resurrection.

    What are your gifts? What knowledge, experience, and skills have you developed that God has, is, or will enable you to employ in the service of others in the world? With the aid of the Holy Spirit, may God help us to identify our individual gifts and to share with each other what these gifts are. Let us strive to understand and appreciate each other. God has uniquely gifted each one of us to serve Him. Our diversity allows us collectively to serve the world around us. If we consciously recognize our collective service, we will sense how much we are called to do, and realize somewhat more of how much we accomplish as we together bear witness of truth and love, which spring from Jesus Christ.

    It is good to be able to share tangible gifts with needy children at Christmas. It is even more wonderful to realize that God enables us to share our gifts with the world every day, in so many ways, as we serve in the world in which we live.

      Desiring that all be equipped and empowered for service in the world, to honour Christ,

        James T. Hurd

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    Soli Deo gloria: On the difference between praise and encouragement   (February 2015)

    The elders of the church have a responsibility, first of all to God, to ensure that all that is done by the Church is to the credit and honour of Jesus Christ, who is the Church's head. When the session (which is the collective name for the pastor and elders) of Parkwood Church meets each month, we pray and consult with one another about how best to honour Jesus in the way we worship, work, and witness together.

    One subject which has been part of recent conversations is clapping or applause during worship.

    We would like to share some thoughts with the congregation.

    Clapping is only mentioned rarely in the Bible. There are nine references in all. All are in the Old Testament; none are in the New Testament. Of the nine references, only one (Psalm 47: 1) refers to clapping as an act of worship by God's people. Three references are metaphorical: referring to either trees (Isaiah 55: 12) or rivers (Psalm 98: 8) or the wind (Job 27: 23) clapping. Once there is reference to clapping on the occasion of the anointing of a king (2 Kings 11: 12); four times there is mention of clapping in derision against someone: an individual (Job 34: 37), a nation (Nahum 3: 19), or the people of God (Lamentations 2: 19 and Ezekiel 25: 6).

    In context, Psalm 47: 1 highlights that true worship is to be entirely focused on God. He is the only one worthy of our praises. The psalmist begins, "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy", and goes on to affirm: "How awesome is the Lord!" (verse 2). The psalmist calls us to "sing praises to God."

    In reflecting upon recent occasions when applause has followed a solo in the midst of worship, one elder contributes this comment: "Soloists are taking part in the worship of God, and as such are not giving a performance to show how talented they are. These talents have been given to them by God, and they are giving Him the praise by using them to worship Him."

    Another elder thoughtfully offers this reflection:
    "Everything we do in worship is, or should be, to praise and glorify God. So song, plays, and dance are not for our entertainment, though they certainly are enjoyable, but are a gift of praise. Clapping in response to singing, music, or dance is not mentioned in the Bible. David danced before the Lord, but no mention is made of this being to entertain people since entertainment is not the buzz word, praise is. So it is important for everyone, including children and youth, to know that what they do is not to entertain us, with the expectation that we will clap if we think they are good. There are plenty of other places outside the sanctuary where this can be done, to encourage them in what they do. That includes words of thanks and praise for their effort, but I think always with the added comment that what they do is a gift of praise to God."

    "Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing to the glory of his name; offer him glory and praise" (Psalm 66: 1)

    "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness." (Psalm 100: 1-2)

    In our society, clapping or applause is a way to express thanks to someone for what they have done or said. We applaud when our team scores a goal or wins a game. Clapping or applause also is a way to register satisfaction with what one has heard or seen. We clap to signal approval or support when someone makes a speech in a political or community meeting and with which we wish to show that we agree.

    One difficulty with clapping in response to an act of worship is that the applause can be interpreted as being directed towards the one who has offered the act. Public worship, however, is a corporate act. All of us are participating, even if only one is audibly reading or singing. All who are worshipping "in spirit and in truth" (John 4: 24) are joined in spirit with the one who is leading, if the one leading is truly worshipping God. Thus clapping in response to such an act may be clapping in satisfaction for what "we" together have just offered. We are not the appropriate judges as to whether what we have offered to God is acceptable ... God alone is judge of that!

    It is appropriate on occasion to clap while we are singing. Certain songs are designed to be offered with instrumental accompaniment. If we don't have a pair of cymbals in our hands, or a tambourine to play, we can rightly worship God by joining in clapping, which we do with such songs as "Lord, the light of Your love is shining" or "Clap your hands, all ye people, shout to God with a voice of triumph."

    Instead of applause following a song or reading or dance led by an individual or group or choir, it is appropriate for those who are moved in spirit to give some expression to say, "Amen!" "Amen" means "Let it be so!" and is an expression of heartfelt agreement, of affirmation that what the individual leading has said or sung or done is echoed by the heart and mind of the one saying, "Amen!". "Yes, Lord, I agree!" would be a good way of understanding it.

    Now, it is also appropriate for us to encourage those who give leadership. If a particular song or dance or reading or sermon has been used by God to touch or inspire one of us, and the exercise of another's gift has brought joy and encouragement to us, we rightly -- outside of the worship of God - - need to express our thanks and encouragement to the one whose gift has blessed us. We are commanded in Scripture not only to worship God, but also to "Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5: 11) We have a responsibility to express thanks to others for their gifts and contributions in song and dance, and in word and deed. Such expressions of encouragement for others, however, appropriately find expression outside of worship so as not to detract from worship, which is rightly directed to God alone.

    Let us, then, worship God, and thank those whose gifts lead and enrich our worship, and not confuse praise and encouragement. Soli Deo gloria! (To God alone be the glory!)

    For the elders,

      Your teaching elder and pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    A warm welcome on a cold day   (March 2015)

    On Thursday, February 19th, between 12:15pm and 1:15pm, Parkwood Church hosted some 500 students and staff from Sir Winston Churchill Public School, which is located just down the street on Mulvagh Avenue. The occasion which led to their visit was a fire alarm at the school that called for the immediate evacuation of the students, shortly after noon, on a day when the temperature was -18įC and the wind was blowing at 25 km/h, with gusts to 45 km/h. The wind chill factor was -30įC. Most of the children, including those in junior kindergarten, left the school without their coats, hats, or mittens. All who arrived at the church were very cold and very grateful to come into the +18įC warmth of our sanctuary and Fellowship Hall.

    The cityís fire department attended the school and soon sounded the "all clear", but it was some time before they were able to leave, as some of the teachers made arrangements to go back to the school and retrieve coats and bring them to the church so that the younger children would be able to walk back to the school with proper clothing to protect them against the cold and the wind. One student, scrambling over the snowbank to reach the church, even lost a shoe, which our diligent snowplow operator found the following Sunday morning while plowing the yard, and which subsequently was returned to the school to find its way back to the owner.

    In the interval between their arrival and departure, our sanctuary, hall, and narthex were all utilised to provide space for the students -- from junior kindergarten through grade 8 -- and their teachers and the office staff.

    "Sanctuary" has several different meanings. One of them (per the Canadian Oxford Dictionary) is "a place of refuge, especially a church or sacred building". While other meanings may come to mind when we gather for worship in our sanctuary, it is good to be reminded that we are called to use space dedicated some forty years ago "to the glory of God and the service of man" -- as the words on the plaque on the wall outside our sanctuary state -- in other ways that also honour God and serve our neighbours.

    The unexpected incident on February 19th afforded us an opportunity to do so, and to put into practice the second greatest commandment, stated by Jesus to be: "Love your neighbour as yourself". (Matthew 22: 39, NIV)

    None of us knows what any given day will bring, in terms of opportunities to offer tangible evidence of love for our neighbours. Let us be committed to do so, whenever the occasion arises.

      In Christís love, your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    Elders   (April 2015)

    What is an elder? Who is an elder? What does an elder do? Such questions are asked, sometimes by individuals new to the church, or to the Presbyterian Church. Here is the first part of an answer, as we explore and review why there are elders in the church, and what God has designed and called elders to do.

    The idea of elders sharing in the oversight and leadership of Godís people is rooted in the record in the book of Exodus. Moses was called by God to lead his people out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt. God was pleased to entrust to Moses the law, including the ten commandments, to guide and govern life according to Godís design. Moses sought diligently to lead the people, but in overseeing the community, he found himself as the "go to" man. People in all walks of life came from far and near with every kind of question and dispute, and waited on Moses to answer and solve every sort of problem. Jethro, Mosesí father-in-law, saw that Moses was becoming overwhelmed with the challenges and responsibilities, and spoke to him, offering some fatherly advice:

    Exodus 18: 18 - Mosesí father-in-law replied ... "The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone."

    Jethro went on to advise Moses that he should share the leadership and oversight of the community of faith, by appointing others to adjudicate the simple and regular problems, and only bring the more difficult ones to Moses. This would ensure a more timely resolution of difficulties, and a more satisfied community, and Moses would be able to cope with everything expected - he would be able to devote himself to the great responsibilities of teaching Godís law to the people, and of interceding before God on behalf of the people. Moses heeded Jethroís advice and sought out capable individuals to share in the work of providing help, guidance, and oversight for the people of the community.

    Those who joined with Moses in the leadership and governance of the Old Testament community of faith were known as elders. In the New Testament, the Greek word "presbuteros" is the root word for our English word "presbyter" and it means "elder". Paul counselled his young helper Titus that he should ordain -- or set apart -- "elders" in every community.

    Clearly God intended in both Old and New Testament communities of faith that leadership should be shared by elders. In the reformed church, we have sought to affirm that this concept of shared leadership is of fundamental importance. Sometimes the pastor or minister is known as a "teaching elder", and other elders who share in the work of spiritual oversight and leadership of the church are known as "ruling elders". Responsibility for the spiritual nurture, care, and oversight of the whole community of faith is a joint responsibility, shared by all the elders in and for a particular congregation of Godís people. In the Presbyterian Church, we affirm leadership and oversight is not a matter of one-man or one-person rule, but consists of shared, mutually-accountable, collegial leadership. Elders take counsel together. Elders pray together, and talk over challenges and difficulties together, seeking to share insights, and to encourage and support each other. Elders are called to assist in discipling new believers in Christ, showing by example what it is to live as followers of Jesus. Elders assist in ensuring that there are opportunities for worship, and for the nurture and training of children and youth. Elders visit those who are sick, and aid in providing for those who are in need.

    Beyond a local community, the church of Christ is much bigger than one congregation. In the Presbyterian Church, we affirm that elders share responsibility for the well-being of the wider church. Pastors in a given city or region share with representatives of the elders of each of several local congregations in providing joint oversight for the pastors and elders of each congregation. The local "presbytery" is comprised of the pastors and an equal number of ruling elders in a given region.

    Elders help to ensure that wider mission of Christ to all the world is kept in focus in our life together as part of Christís church in our local community. Let us give thanks for Godís gift of elders to Christís church!

      Your pastor, and a teaching elder thankful for all the elders of the church,

        James T. Hurd

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    Elders as mentors   (May 2015)

    One of the roles of an elder is to be a mentor.

    The first "Mentor" was a Greek by that name, who was a guide and advisor to a young man named Telemachus. A mentor is someone who fulfills the same office or function. The Oxford dictionary also defines a mentor as "an experienced and trusted counselor."

    Paul was a mentor to Timothy, among others, who sought to share with Timothy the wisdom of both knowledge and experience. Timothy, in turn, even though he was young, was challenged and charged to "set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." Similarly, elders today in the church of Jesus Christ are to set examples for other Christians: in how to speak, to live, and to love.

    In order to mentor someone, a relationship must be established. The one being mentored needs to be willing to learn, and the one serving as mentor needs to be willing to invest time in discipling, in teaching and sharing. The relationship between the mentor and the one being mentored needs to be one built on trust. Mentors are called to be encouragers, but there are times when one needs to be honest, and offer warnings or constructive criticism. The one being mentored needs to know that in spite of such warnings or criticism, the mentor has at heart the best interests of the one being mentored.

    Jesus mentored the twelve disciples. He taught them, but he also invited them to share in the experiences of both public ministry and private counsel. Throughout the three years of Jesusí earthly ministry, the disciples had many opportunities to observe Jesusí conduct, including his manner of life, his words, and his actions -- in situations in which he was welcomed, and in others in which he was reviled, mocked, and mistreated. Mentoring is not simply for the good times, but is especially important in the bad times. Mentoring is not a one-off activity; its fruits ripen over time.

    Good leaders seek to have mentors, and to be mentors. Elders in Christís church do many things, one of which is to reflect in action the example of Jesus as a mentor to those who seek to be or to become Christian disciples.

    Let us give thanks for elders who mentor. Let us ask God to raise up mentors for each and all of us.

    Grateful for mentors, and humbly striving to be one, too,

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    Elders: Qualified and Called   (June 2015)

    How does one become an elder? Does the elder seek the office, or does the office seek the elder?

    One might, tongue-in-cheek, reply, "How does one become elderly?" The answer is ... by ageing! Yet elders in the church of Jesus Christ are not first described as "elderly". Spiritual ageing is not the same as physical ageing. Both, however, involve some time and maturity.

    Paul makes it plain in his first letter to Timothy that to desire to serve as a elder is a good thing -- "a noble task". To aspire to give leadership and service in the church is a holy desire. When the Holy Spirit re-forms our hearts and lives and wills, Christians are eager to serve Jesus and to advance His cause and His kingdom.

    Some are of mature years when they are called, as was Saul of Tarsus who when he became a follower of Jesus Christ had years of experience as a student and teacher. His learning required reformulating; he had to be instructed in the ways of Jesus whom he had previously persecuted. Others, though, like Timothy and Titus, were young people when they came to faith and they were called to leadership from a young age. Paul reminds Timothy, "Donít let anyone look down on you because you are young." (1 Timothy 4: 12a NIV)

    This "calling" to the eldership reflects what Calvin understood to be the doctrine of vocation. All of us as Christians are gifted by the Holy Spirit in some way, and we are called to use those gifts in Christís service and to Godís glory. Some are given gifts of leadership, and are called to "set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." (1 Timothy 4: 12b NIV)

    An "inward call" or sense that God has equipped and is equipping and will equip an individual to follow and serve Jesus is a part of the call to eldership. If it is a true call, it is matched by an "outward call" -- discernment on the part of others in the church, that such an individual has and gives evidence of the gifts appropriate for leadership and ministry and service. Some of these appropriate gifts are listed in I Timothy 3: 2-7, and include being "temperate", "self-controlled", "respectable", "hospitable", "able to teach", "not given to much wine", "not violent but gentle", "not quarrelsome", "not a lover of money", and "having a good reputation with outsiders". Oneís family situation is also to be taken into consideration: having more than one spouse (polygamy) or a family in open rebellion are counter indications of being ready and able to provide leadership among the Lordsís people.

    When the inward and outward call point in the same direction, one is led along with fellow elders and the believers to say, "In the Lordís will, I will seek humbly, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, to serve as an elder in Church of Jesus Christ."

    May God raise up in our time and circumstances elders to share in the leadership of Christís church.

      Your pastor, and elder,

        James T. Hurd
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