Wednesday, 27 February 2019

God of infinite chances

The cause of almost all of the sin and trouble in our lives is selfishness, Smithville Christian students were told at this week’s chapel.

Grade 11 student Patrick, who was this week’s speaker, told students that a recent experience in his life “changed the way I view everything.”

Putting ourselves before others is the reason why we bully, he said. “To make ourselves feel better by putting someone else down.”


 It’s the reason for failing to share, for jealousy, for lying, for boasting.

“It’s all rooted in the idea of me,” he said. “That I am the best. That I am better than you. That I don’t care about you.” Selfishness is regularly reflected back to us in the media, in the modern messaging of “you be you,” or “anything you want, go get it.”

But Christians realize that there is something bigger than ourselves, a Creator who blessed us to be a blessing to others, he said.

Patrick said he tries to be a good guy, to think about things before he does them, “to be a right person.”

But he found it wasn’t working.

“In fact, I am sort of a fake.”

Dropping a nickel on the floor and picking it up, Patrick said finding a coin and pocketing it seems like an inconsequential thing. But in his own life, the Holy Spirit made it clear to him that there are things we can take for granted that can actually be destructive to others – and ourselves.

Patrick said he recently found himself “in a deep, dark hole, and I probably wasn’t going to get out.” He tried to pretend everything was fine, but “there were other people I was hurting.”
Instead of being a Christian, he found himself a hypocrite. “What am I doing? How did I get here? How am I living this big, fat lie? This is not what God called me to do.”

Once he realized how destructive his selfishness was, Patrick said he turned to God, picking up his Bible and immersing himself in the life and ministry of Jesus.

“Jesus is the true example of how not to be selfish,” Patrick said. Truthfully, it’s an example that we can’t match, but is what we should look to master, he said. It might help to think of the fruits of the Spirit, Patrick said, breaking into the children’s song – which earned him hearty applause from the students.



Patrick said his parents also reminded him that God is the God of infinite chances, that everyone who is in Christ is a new creation. “It’s never too late to turn back,” he said. “What you did before doesn’t matter. Apologize, and don’t dwell on the past.”

Turning to God changed everything, Patrick said. Allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through him brought joy, true happiness, and true self-worth. “You will feel it,” he promised. “Remember your identity as a Christian, and pursue God.”

By turning away from self and focusing on God, you encounter love, Patrick said, the kind of love that helps you love everyone as God has loved you.
“You are a much better version of yourself when you love,” he said. “The world is a much better place when we love.”

Members of student praise team, Renewed Roots, led in worship with Glorious Day, One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails), and Holy Spirit.



















Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Fresh snow and a fresh semester


What does a blanket of freshly fallen snow mean to you? A pristine landscape that should be left untouched or an invitation to leave your footprints?



At the opening chapel of the new semester, spiritual life director Gord Park said he sees both. The white snow is a symbol of the fresh start that God offers us every day in the forgiveness of our sins (Psalm 51:7), and it’s also an invitation to leave our mark (Isaiah 20:21).

A fresh snowfall is a metaphor for a new semester, Park said. “You get to lay down new tracks.”
And just as the tracks in his backyard – made by squirrels, a dog, and neighbour taking a shortcut – are evidence of life that Park said he might not otherwise see, we can decide to leave tracks that are evidence of the life that is in us.

The footprints in our lives are Christ’s, and we can live as Christ sees us, “whiter than snow,” Park said. This semester, in the way you smile at each other, befriend each other, and care for each other, “you get to lay down tracks of the life that is in you.”

Friday, 30 November 2018

Get ready to be a hero


There are times when you may feel oppressed, or even persecuted, but you have already won the victory through Christ, youth pastor Ryan Harmon told teenagers at Smithville Christian High School’s final chapel of Spiritual Emphasis Week 2018. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world,” Harmon said, quoting 1 John 4:4.

In fact, you are so powerful and mighty, you are called to be a hero, as unlikely as that may seem, he said.

Harmon told a story about the time he was in Grade 11 and his mother rudely interrupted his video game playing to demand that he help her find the source of a wailing sound she heard in their neighbourhood.

His mother sent Harmon to hop fences through the backyards, heading in the direction of the sound, while she went along the sidewalk. Harmon said as he got close to the sound of distress, he leaped a fence and landed in the jaws of a vicious dog, “part pit bull, part Rottweiler, part T-Rex.”

The dog was also the cause of the sound: the dog’s owner, an elderly woman, had gotten tangled in the dog’s leash and fallen and dislocated her shoulder. It was her wailing that they had heard. After an ambulance came to help her and Harmon got patched up from the dog bites, he realized that despite his unwillingness to help and the injuries he had sustained, he had been able to be a hero.

That’s what God expects of all of us, Harmon said, using as another example the story of the four lepers found in 2 Kings 7. God uses the lepers – people usually seen as outcasts – as a way to break into the enemy camp, and while they first choose to feast and plunder, they soon realize they can’t keep the rewards just for themselves. “Then they said to each other, ‘What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves’ ” 2 Kings 7:9.

“There will be days when you still feel like a leper, but don’t get heart broken,” Harmon told the teenagers. “The good news of Jesus Christ is that God is in a good mood. He loves you. He forgives you. He wants to use you.”

Harmon asked the students to reflect silently for a few minutes, and think of a person who came to mind. “Is there someone who needs to know what God has done in your life?” he asked.

“What God has given you, anything that God ever gives you, isn’t just for you,” Harmon said. If your sins are forgiven, if a relationship is restored, if you are healed, if you experience the love of God, just like the lepers, it is not right to keep it for yourself.

“Your story, your testimony, can have impact.”

Praise team "Bulletproof" led in worship with "Stars," "I Believe," "Great Are You Lord," "Heroes," and "Proof of Your Love."










Thursday, 29 November 2018

How does God speak to you?

“God is not going to tell you to brush your teeth in the morning, although you probably should,” said youth pastor Ryan Harmon at the fourth chapel of Spiritual Emphasis Week at Smithville Christian High School. “God is not going to interrupt your life to take away your free choice.” 

But God does speak to us and God does have something to say.

Using the story of the boy Samuel as a young priest-in-training at the temple, as found in 1 Samuel 3, Harmon said there are some key ways in which we can prepare ourselves to hear what God has to say.

  1. Get close to God’s presence. 
  2. Humble yourself before God. 
  3. Do what God says. 

We need to be reading the Bible and we need to surround ourselves with the people and activities that put us in God’s presence, Harmon said. Be prepared to separate yourself from the noise and ask God to speak.

And just as Samuel responded to God with “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening,” we need to be humble and know that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s thoughts higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8, 9), Harmon said. This is difficult for us, but we need to let God know best.

Finally, we have to be prepared to heed God’s nudging in our lives, and do what God is telling us to do. Harmon said he will always regret not reaching out to the high school friend who struggled with addiction, who ended up dying of a drug overdose.

“Act on those moments when you feel God speaking, tell your parents what is going on, offer encouragement to a kid at school,” he said. “You could change someone’s life.
“I live my life now aimed in the right direction, waiting to encourage someone,” Harmon said. “Most of what I hear from God are words of encouragement.”

As an example, Harmon invited two students up to the front, one at a time, and asked the rest of the audience to pray silently for 30 seconds and then share what God was putting on their hearts about their friends.


God wants us to know the truth about ourselves and we can be the ones who speak God’s truth into the lives of others.

“Hearing God’s voice and speaking it out is not as hard as we think,” he said. “Speaking God’s word over somebody is not difficult, it is life-giving. All that matters about you is what God says about you, who God says you are."

Student praise team, "Renewed Roots," led in worship with "Glorious Day," "Come As You Are," and "Who You Say I Am."

There's one more chapel of Spiritual Emphasis Week! Join us Friday morning at 9 a.m. for student-led worship and the word of God.











Wednesday, 28 November 2018

What labels are you wearing?


“Every word you say, every joke you share, there is no in between,” said youth pastor Ryan Harmon at the third chapel of Spiritual Emphasis Week at Smithville Christian High School. “It is either causing life or causing death.”

Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death,” while Jesus said, “by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37), said Harmon. That’s why the labels we give each other are so powerful.

Handing out nametags with labels such as “athlete,” “class clown,” “gullible,” “Leafs fan,” or “artist,” Harmon said he was in sixth grade when a classmate called him “ugly.” He was in middle school when he overheard a teacher question his intelligence, and he was in high school when his friends mocked him and called him a “pastor’s kid.”

“It wasn’t the word that got me, it was how they said it,” Harmon recalled, adding that the pain of those labels remains with him today. “I know pain, but those labels hurt more.”

Turning to the story of the woman who was healed when she touched the robe of Jesus in the midst of a crowd, Harmon said the woman had already been healed, but Jesus still stopped to have a conversation with her. He turned and called her “daughter,” which is the only label that really matters. The Creator who made us calls us sons and daughters, Harmon said. “God doesn’t just want to heal your body, he wants to heal your soul. If you have been living by the labels people put on you, and they are not Godly labels” you need to peel those labels off.

It’s by studying God’s word that we learn our true identities, Harmon said.

Members of student praise team “The Redeemed” led in worship with “Resurrecting,” “O Come to the Altar,” and “The Well.”

Spiritual Emphasis Week continues with chapels at 9 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. All are welcome. Please join us!










Tuesday, 27 November 2018

What's your glaring weakness?


Are you listening to Christmas music already?

Some people start listening to Christmas music in November, said youth pastor Ryan Harmon, speaking at the second chapel of spiritual emphasis week at Smithville Christian High School. There’s a local radio station that’s playing it, but if you don’t want to hear it, you don’t have to tune in.

The word of God is like that, Harmon said. God is speaking to us all the time. If you don’t want to hear from God, you simply don’t have to tune in.

But God has something to say to us about the difficulties we encounter in our lives, such as the awkward moments (like kale in our teeth, zippers that come undone, or foolish texts we send) or the really difficult moments in our lives, like those caused by sin, or addiction, or the secrets we don’t dare tell anyone, Harmon said.

Using the example of Naaman, a very successful Israelite army general, whose story is found in 2 Kings 5, Harmon said things can look great, but still be bad. Naaman was a mighty warrior, but he had a glaring weakness. His leprosy made him unclean, unwanted, and worthless.

“What’s your glaring weakness?” Harmon asked students. God’s answer for the healing of Naaman was something as simple as bathing in the local river seven times. It made Naaman angry and want to walk away, but in the end, it can be that simple.

“God calls you righteous, God calls you a person of valour,” Harmon told the students. “God looks at this room and sees young men and young women who have destinies they cannot even imagine. Deal with your sin, do not walk away from your healing, do not walk away from repentance. What is holding you back?”

Members of student praise team “Bulletproof” led in worship with “Stars,” “Just Be Held,” and “You Say.”






Spiritual Emphasis Week continues until November 30, with chapel every morning at 9 a.m. Join us for worship and the word. All are welcome.