Church Blog
Update from the Suggetts
By Colin & Dot Suggett
October 20, 2017
In the course of our recent village visits, we were reminded of the complications of travel in rainy season. Although we managed to navigate around some very large mud puddles, others were not so lucky.
 
We pulled one unfortunate transporteur out of deep mud, with some damage to his bumper. We were unable to verify if his engine suffered from the water. I don't envy him the repair job, but muddy puddles are part of rainy season and do not constitute persecution, even for unlucky transporteurs.
On the other hand, during these same visits, we were made aware of several situations of real and severe persecution. A woman of Niofila, a believer named Mariam, was widowed recently. In a case like this, Turka “social security” means that the woman is obliged to marry a close relative (something like this is seen in the Old Testament book of Ruth, with the Levirate system). However, with this marriage, certain sacrifices are obligatory. Mariam would not sacrifice and refused to leave the church, preferring to live as a widow. Because of this, she faced severe persecution and the deceased husband’s family took all her belongings. Talk about suffering for the faith. What an eye-opener!
This story has been repeated many times—we know of two current situations, and Foromine himself suffered as a child when his believing mother was widowed. These women may be reduced to extreme poverty and are additionally burdened with singlehandedly providing for their children’s needs and school fees.
Pray for us to have much wisdom, discernment, and generosity as we respond to the many requests for help.
In other news, we also ask your prayers for a very practical matter. Colin broke a tooth shortly after our arrival here. A dentist in Ouagadougou put on a patch of sorts, but after we had been down here for in Banfora for a while it began to hurt him. He now requires a root canal and this will need to be done in Ouagadougou. His appointment is for next Tuesday, so we will make the 7 or 8 hour journey on Sunday and probably return on Thursday.
Of course this means an interruption in the work, which bothers Colin almost as much as the significant pain he is experiencing. Please pray for an uncomplicated resolution to this trial, and that we would continue to be thankful for God’s provision, even when it doesn’t come the way we would like.

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Way of Jesus: His Love
By Pastor Andrew Mills
October 20, 2017
 
This weekend, we are looking at the heart of Christianity; something that actually isn’t always seen as the heart of church. We are looking at love.
While it might be a bit provocative to write that love isn’t always seen as the heart of the church, it’s the reality we need to work with and change. Because, the truth is, whenever people in our culture are polled, the first words they associate with Christians and the church aren’t loving, compassionate or caring. Instead, they use words like judgmental and hypocritical.
And, this is something we need to change, because Christianity is founded and centred on love.
Loving others is hard. It's hard to love your jerky co-worker because, well, they are jerky. But, I do believe that’s our calling - to deepen our love for each and every person on this planet.
So, how do we do that? Well, that’s what this weekend's message is all about - figuring out how to love others deeper and better. This is something I know I need to learn and grow at, and maybe you might too.
So, I hope you can join us as we discover three ways to love others deeper, better and more like Jesus.

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His Character:Review
By Pastor Andrew Mills
October 17, 2017
 


The tough part with this statement is that there is so much to unpack in it. Learning to be like Jesus in just His attitudes alone could take months of sermons.
So, rather than trying to tackle it all, I focused in on two things...
Why you can live like Jesus, and then how to do it.
First, I began by talking about why you can live like Jesus by examining three big theological words: Orthodoxy, Orthopraxy, and Orthokardia.
Orthodoxy means to have “right beliefs.”
Orthopraxy means to have “right actions.”
And, in the West, we think that having the right beliefs leads to the right actions, but this is ridiculously false. We all know that if we thought about it for more than a moment. We all know that chips aren’t good for health, but we eat them (I love them!). We all know we should floss every night, but, well, most of us don’t. 
But, the reason we don’t act the right way, isn’t an information problem, it’s a heart problem. We don’t have the right heart (Orthokardia).
Orthokardia means to have "right heartedness."
If we want to follow Jesus in terms of our attitudes, behaviours, and character, we don’t need more information, we need new hearts. We don’t need more Bible knowledge, we need our hearts to be shaped better and deeper by Jesus. 
When you start to dive into the Bible, this is actually the promise of the Bible. We see this all over the place in Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 36:25-27, Galatians 5:16-17a, and especially in the New Testament in which it says we are new creations in Christ.
The point is that your hearts have been made new, different and transformed, so that you can live differently. We can actually live like Jesus, because of Jesus.
So, the big idea was that to be like Jesus, we need our hearts changed and formed by Jesus. And, there are three ways that our hearts can be formed by Jesus to live more like Jesus: Prayer, imitation, worship.
So, first, we need to pray. I shared that we need to spend more time in prayer, having our desires shaped by Jesus. Often, in prayer, we bring our wants and desires to Jesus to meet them. And, that’s not bad, but we also need to bring our wants and desires to Jesus to change them, shape them and form them. We need to ask Jesus if we are desiring the right things, and for Him to direct our wants and to change them when they go off course.
The second thing is we need mentors to help us live this life in the way of Jesus; mentors and guides who we can imitate and follow to help us realize what living like Jesus looks like in this life. So, do you have people you are journeying with? That are helping your heart to be formed in the way of Jesus? Because we can’t do this alone.
The last thing is we need to worship together - weekly. The truth is, the world is forming our hearts and lives all the time. They are masters at shaping our desires and spend billions to do it. So, we need to gather together weekly to have our hearts recalibrated in and through worship together. We need one another.
As we invest in these things, what I believe is this: We will live more like Jesus, and that’s what our world needs.

Teaching Notes:
Statement Three: “I am learning to be like Jesus in terms of my attitudes, behaviours and character.”
Passage: Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Galatians 5:16-17a
Big Idea: We need our hearts changed and continually 
formed by Jesus.
Teaching Points:
a) When we live like Jesus, lives will be changed by Jesus.
b) It is much easier to learn a lot about Jesus, than to live like Jesus.
c) Orthodoxy (“right doctrine/beliefs”); Orthopraxy (“right practice”); Orthokardia (“right heartedness”).
d) Simply believing the right things about Jesus does not mean you will live or act like Jesus. 
e) Our actions flow out of our hearts, not out of knowledge.
f) “Discipleship, we might say, is a way to curate your heart, to be attentive to and intentional about what you love.” (Jamie Smith)
g) How do we live like Jesus?
- Have hearts changed by Jesus.
- Have our hearts continually shaped and formed by Jesus and His Spirit.
h) Prayer is bringing our hearts, desires and wants to God, so He will transform them.
i) Prayer forms our wants.
Discussion Questions:
1) What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? 
2) Why do you think it’s important to have our hearts shaped and formed by Jesus?
3) How does the world around us shape our hearts? How can we ensure that Jesus forms our hearts instead? 
4) How can you invest in prayer and spending time with Jesus this week?
Challenge for the Week: 
Spend more time with Jesus than you did last week.

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Widen the Circle
By Martin Nieuwets
October 17, 2017
 
Pursue strategic relationships for your son or daughter.
 
In a culture where community is not automatic and there are limited role models, parents should become intentional about finding spiritual leaders and mentors for their teens. Every son and daughter needs other adults in their lives who will say things that reflect what a parent would say. One of the smartest things moms and dads can do is to participate regularly at church where they can find the right kind of adult influences for their teens.
 
Here is a piece of research that might interest some of you as parents:
Teens who had at least one adult from church make a significant time investment in their lives …were more likely to keep attending church. More of those who stayed in church—by a margin of 46 percent to 28 percent—said five or more adults at church had invested time with them personally and spiritually.
 
I have observed a lot of teenagers. From the time they hit middle school, they start pulling away from home. They are not doing anything wrong; in fact, it’s a good thing - it’s the way they are made. They are becoming independent, and they begin redefining themselves through the eyes of other people who are not in their immediate family. The older they get, the more important it is for them to have other voices in their lives saying the same things but in a different way. They need to have other voices speaking into their worlds.
 
Here are two ways you can help broaden the positive relationships in your teen’s life:
 
Small Groups. In our student ministry at Bethany, from grades 7-12, students are placed in small groups. These small groups provide a consistent group of peers who know each other and are moving in a good direction together. They receive care and direction from godly adult leaders who often become an important voice in their lives. As these students and leaders spend time together they often become like a “second family”.  
Serving Opportunities. At Bethany, we believe strongly that teens can make a difference in the lives of others so we encourage them to use their gifts and passions to serve others. And because we believe this we make lots of opportunities available here for them to serve. As they are paired with like-hearted adults in these serving spaces they begin to form strong relationships and positive influence happens.
 
Do you think it’s important to widen the circle? Why?


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Way of Jesus: His Character
By Pastor Andrew Mills
October 13, 2017
 
Sundays keep coming, and we keep moving through our sermon series, The Way of Jesus. On this upcoming weekend, we are going to be unpacking the next statement in our series...
Statement Three: “I am learning to be like Jesus in terms of my attitudes, behaviours, and character.”
And, this statement really matters. Because what everyone should be able to agree to, both followers of Jesus and those who don’t follow Jesus, is this: The world would be better if Christians lived and loved more like Jesus. 
I have not met any non-Christian who wouldn’t like to see Christians living more like Jesus in terms of our attitudes, behaviours and character. The critique against the church is not when we live like Jesus, but rather when we fail to live like Jesus.
But, here is the difficulty: It's hard to live like Jesus. It's hard to follow Jesus. It's hard to have His attitudes, behaviours and character. It's hard, but not impossible, and actually even doable. And that’s what I want to discover with you this weekend.
How can we live, love and look more like Jesus? I think that’s worth finding out. And, guess what? So do your neighbours, co-workers and family. They would all love it if we all looked more like Jesus. So, let’s learn that together on Sunday.

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