Thursday, 20 December 2012

What we're hoping for.....

Our Christmas chapel featured lots of music and a reflection on hope.

Mr. Robb began his message with the lyrics of a song by the band For King And Country that had been on our school sign: "Endless hope, relentless joy, started with a baby boy."

He said it's normal for us to hope for things like good marks on tests, for acceptance from friends or for gifts for Christmas, such as the dog he once hoped for when he was a boy.

"Sometimes we are more certain than others of the things we hope for," he said. The Bible uses the word "hope" about 175 times, and "it's not just wishful thinking, it's much stronger than that."

Because of the promises of God, we have hope for the forgiveness of sins, for the strength to live our lives as Christ calls us to live, and for an eternal home free from the sin and suffering of this world, Robb said.

"Our hope is based on the character and promises of God, a God who cannot lie," he said.

We put our hope not in iPads or iPods or other I things, but in the God who loves us and who came to us as a baby boy, he said.

Hebrews 6:19 says "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." The image is of a ship at anchor, Robb said. "A storm may blow in tossing the ship about, but as long as the anchor holds, the ship is safe."

Similarly, the storms of life may toss us about, but as long as we have our hope in Christ, our anchor, we cannot be destroyed, he said.

Mr. Robb ended his reflection with the lyrics of the song "Baby Boy" by For King and Country:  

If you told me all about your sorrows
I'd tell you about a cure
If you told me you can't fight the battle
There's a Baby Boy who won the war
The war was won by a Baby Boy

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven's ringing
Endless hope and endless joy started with a Baby Boy

Oh, before that silent night
No Savior and No Jesus Christ
The world cried out so desperately
And the Baby Boy was the reply,
Yes, Heaven's reply was a baby boy

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven's ringing
Endless hope and endless joy started with a Baby Boy

See, the King is coming down
And He's here without a crown
The Baby Boy without a bed
Giving life back to the dead
And hear the angels shout it out
As the people are coming down
Unexpected majesty
Alleluia, what a King

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven's ringing
Endless hope and endless joy started with a Baby Boy

Alleluia, we can sing it!
Alleluia, yeah, Heaven's ringing!
Endless hope and endless joy started with a Baby Boy

We sang What Child Is This, Angels We Have Heard on High and Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel.

The choir performed "Hush," "Jesus What a Wonderful Child," "Sing Noel," "Testify to Love," "Wade in the Water" and an "Irish Blessing."Megan and Rachel sang "Do You See What I See?" Caleb sang "I'll Be Home for Christmas," Jon sang "All I Want for Christmas is You" and Samantha sang "Only Hope."

We were delighted to be joined by many guests and alumni. Next chapel is Wednesday, January 9 at 9 a.m. See you there!

Listen to Samantha sing "Only Hope."

Friday, 16 November 2012

Stop flexing your muscles, they are not that impressive to me

The final chapel of Smithville Christian High School's Spiritual Emphasis Week began with Susan Dunk, wife of Paul Dunk, saying that she was praying that students would see that following a movement only leads to emptiness.

Susan Dunk told students that theirs is a generation seeking a cause.

"But when you are looking for a movement to secure your value, meaning or significance, it will fail," she said. "God wants our movement to cease so we can find our rest in him," she said. Instead of us moving towards God, "it is God who is moving towards us."
"Most of our Christian experience focuses on works, on labour, on the things we need to do," she said. But if we move to secure something for ourselves, it will come up empty every time.

My prayer for you is that you will have a revelation of Jesus, she said, and when you have a revelation of Jesus "it will be like the Bible is decoded."

Paul Dunk then reminded students that their journey during spiritual Emphasis Week was one of putting God first, and of seeing the Bible as the greatest love story ever written with Jesus as the main hero. Dunk said Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) featured instructions for making Christian life even more difficult.

Our response to Jesus' teachings is "I can't do this," he said. "And Jesus says, 'Exactly. I will do it for you.'"

Dunk described himself as "a Superman freak" with a large collection of Superman T-shirts. But, he admitted, he not really at all like Superman.

"If there was a superhero that I am most like, it would not be Superman," he said. "Superman is always a good guy, and even Clark Kent is always a good guy."

Dunk said he is more like Tony Stark -- or Ironman -- a character who is self-absorbed, egotistical, arrogant and narcissistic, "only thinking about himself and only trying to bring pleasure to himself."

Dunk used the example of Jacob, who duped his brother and tricked his father into obtaining a birthright for himself.

"He was on a mission to mean something, and we do the same thing," Dunk said. "We all have our ways to mean something. It's us striving so someone will tell us that we are important."

After their father's death, Esau announces his intention to get revenge on his devious younger brother and vows to kill him (Genesis 27). That prompts Jacob to flee for his life.

Jacob marries and has children and many years pass, but he is still living in fear of his brother's revenge, Dunk said. As their reunion approaches, he cries out to God for help (Genesis 32).

"You would think God would say 'sorry, you made your bed, now lie in it,' but that's not God's answer, Dunk said. Instead God wrestles with Jacob, and at first it looks like Jacob is successfully holding his own.
But God shows Jacob "you are not as strong as you think," and reaches out to touch Jacob on the hip, and "poink," Jacob is crippled. "God says 'stop flexing your muscles, they are not that impressive to me,'" Dunk said. "And Jacob recognizes in an instant that it is God who is powerful and it is God who is in control."

The central message of that midnight battle is that Jacob starts out fighting God and ends up clinging to God, Dunk said. Just as Jacob fought for his birthright and fought for his life, we fight for Twitter followers or Facebook friends, he said. But we have to stop fighting for success, and start embracing God.

Dunk asked students to pray with him, inviting Jesus to do a deep work in them. "I need you more than I need the approval of the person sitting next to me," Dunk and the students prayed. "My future is bright because it's in you."



Thursday, 15 November 2012

The biggest problem

When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, he wasn't giving his audience a list of helpful hints about the benefits of being meek, humble and peaceful, said Paul Dunk at Smithville Christian High School's Thursday chapel during Spiritual Emphasis Week.
"The Beatitudes is not a list of things to do, it is a list of things that we CANNOT do," he said. "Jesus is not saying 'try your best, it's good enough.' Jesus has given us a list that is a glorious impossibility."
Similarly, with his references to the 10 Commandments, Jesus made it clear we would not measure up.
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment,’ " said Dunk, reading excerpts from Matthew 5. "' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Jesus went on to say that if your eye is causing you to sin, you should pluck it out, or if your hand is causing you to sin, you should cut it off, Dunk said. But Jesus knows it's not our eyes or our hands that cause us to sin. "It's your heart that causes you to sin, and Jesus knows that," he said.

"Jesus is saying 'guys, this is deeper than you think,' " Dunk said. "The Pharisees think they are pulling it off, but they're not. We think we are pulling it off, but we're not."

"We try to soften what Jesus said to make it more do-able for us, we soften it into something we think we can do," he said, turning the Christian faith into a legalistic rulebook, and our churches into religious sweatshops. The result is that we are "driven into exhaustion" trying to achieve value, acceptance, belonging, meaning, fulfillment, purpose and peace by our own efforts.

"Your generation is chronically addicted to perform," Dunk told the students. "Why? Because your parents and grandparents were chronically addicted to perform. We are addicted to getting a gold star from heaven, from our parents, from our peers." But we're doomed to failure.
"We believe the greatest problem is outside us and the answer is inside us," he said. "We believe the greatest problem is outside us. But Jesus shows up and says the greatest problem is inside us."
"The bad news is, God is not honouring our progress, God only honours perfection," Dunk said. "The good news is, God provided perfection."
Many people believe in karma, he said, that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. But the truth is, we, and all the "heroes" of the Bible, "are bad, undeserving train wrecks, and God gives us what we don't deserve."
Our Christian lives are not about doing good works to earn God's approval, he said.
"You and I will bear fruit, and we will do good things. But all of this doing comes from being, and our being comes from Jesus Christ.
"The good news is Jesus says you will have a new heart, and when we rest in Jesus, we become like him and our lives transform. The way you get out of your sin is not by trying harder, but by looking at what Jesus did."


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The best love story

"The Bible is predominantly a love story," said chapel speaker Paul Dunk. "We have the Bible to tell us about God."
In 1 John 4:19 the apostle Paul writes that "we love because he first loved us," Dunk said. "We love God because he first loved us. He moved first and he is always moving towards us."

Dunk said after God created the world and humans sinned by trusting in ourselves, God immediately announced that he had a rescue plan.
"And this is glorious, because it sets the tone," Dunk said, reading from Genesis 3 and the crushing curse on the serpent.
The story continues in Genesis 4, when Cain kills Abel, he said. God punishes Cain, but also offers protection when the punishment "is greater than (Cain) can bear."
"The story is not 'don't be like Cain,' the story is about the love of God," Dunk said. "The story is that we ARE Cain."
But we don't think we are that bad, so we don't "embrace the cross daily," he said. We can easily see that the prisoners in a maximum security prison "need all the blood of Jesus, but we only need a sprinkle."
The result is that we think of the Bible as a checklist, and we try to live up to that list and worry about what we are going to do with our lives.
That's the way the world lives, Dunk said. But we don't need to impress God because God already loves us and saved us.
"There is no version of this where you have to clean yourself up enough so he can use you. God does not need you to clean yourself up so he can do something with your life.
"This is the beauty of the gospel. There is a God in heaven whose love for you is so deep you can wake up every morning with peace because of who he is and who he is for YOU."

The Bible reveals how much God loves us, he said. "We are called to bear fruit by waking up every day thankful for Jesus."
When we do that "watch and see how the power of Christ transforms you from the inside out."
A student praise team led us in singing "Holy, Holy, Holy,"  "The Stand" and "The Desert Song."




Tuesday, 13 November 2012

In the beginning, God....

It's not about you, students at Smithville Christian High School were told at Tuesday's chapel. It's about God.

Paul Dunk, director of ministries for Gideons International in Canada, said he is coming to be our daily chapel speaker during Spiritual Emphasis Week because he wants to preach the gospel, and the good news is the story is not about us and how we can get the most out of life. It's about Jesus.

At Tuesday's chapel Dunk said many Christians have traded the symbol of the cross for a ladder: their Christian faith is not about what Jesus did for them, but what they can do for Jesus, what they can do to achieve, to climb.

"Every morning when we wake up, it's either 'In the beginning, God,' or it's 'In the beginning, me,'" Dunk said. If we are not making our lives about God, we are making them about ourselves, and that's idolatry.


Reading from Genesis 1, Dunk said God was complete before the beginning of time.

"God didn't need anything," Dunk said. "God doesn't need us. God is the giver. God moved first. God loved first."

In Genesis 3, humans sinned by doubting that they would be fulfilled by God, he said, and tried to fill that need with something else. "The root cause of every sin you and I will ever do is doubting that God loves us and doubting that we can be fulfilled by him."

Dunk said when we care about what people think about us we will chase after the things we hope will make our lives powerful, meaningful or fulfilling.

"The iPod, golf, girls, guys, cars, fill in the blank -- it's all idolatry," he said.

God's message for you is you are already loved, you are already accepted, he said.

"Every morning, you either wake up 'from approval' or 'for approval,' either 'for acceptance' or 'from acceptance,'" he said.
If we are seeking approval or seeking acceptance, we will be living in a culture of comparison. We will want to feel good about ourselves by finding ourselves better than others.

But if we live our lives with the approval and acceptance of God, we can live with compassion, he said.

"It's either grace, strength and compassion, or it's comparison," Dunk said.

If we are trying to be great in our own strength, we will fail, he said. "God requires perfection, and even on a good day, we don't measure up."

But not only does God require perfection, he provides perfection.

"I can't clean myself up enough to impress God, but the good news is, God gave us a Saviour," Dunk said.

"The Bible is not a list of rules and ways to live and principles. It is not moralist teachings," Dunk said. "The Bible is a book about Jesus, and about how God provided perfection."

When we are deep in the gospel of Jesus "that's where the power is," he said. "That's where the transformation is."

A student praise team also led us in worship with "Centre," "You Bled," and "I Am Not Ashamed." Here's the video from I Am Not Ashamed:


Monday, 12 November 2012

Hey God, whatever you want to do with me this week, that's great with me!

Students at Smithville Christian High School began their week with a chapel Monday to kick off Spiritual Emphasis Week. "SEW Week," held every year, features daily chapels, daily small group meetings, a prayer room, and student-led praise and worship. This morning's chapel featured all three of our student praise teams, who led us in singing:
Holy, Holy, Holy,
The Desert Song ( I Will Bring Praise)
10,000 Reasons
I Will Follow
Give Me Your Eyes
and, How Great Is Our God.
Spiritual Life Director Gord Park said this year's theme is "The Power That Transforms" and he told students that the Holy Spirit is going to be at work in our school this week.
"The Spirit of God is going to move and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with it," Park said. He said we can ignore it, we can decide to wait until later, or we can "deal with it right now." He invited students to pick option 3.
"It is our prayer that you will deal with what the Spirit of God brings to you today."
Park said sometimes the biggest barriers to the power of the Holy Spirit are the people who are the most important to us -- like the people sitting right next to us in chapel. He asked students to turn to the people around them and say: "Whatever you want to do with God this week, that's okay with me." Students then shouted the blessing to those in other grades, and then turned their faces upwards and said, "Hey God, whatever you want to do with me this week, that's great with me."

Park said the Bible is full of stories of people who have been transformed by their encounters with God: Daniel, David, Amos, Moses, Sarah, Esther, Saul, Gideon, Samson, Samuel. He said students can add their names to that list, but not because they are so perfect. "In fact, most people get in to the Bible by messing up," Park said. "The Bible is loaded with real stories of real men and women who are not perfect and who sometimes do it wrong in a big way."
But we can make it because we have a God who doesn't let go of us, Park said, just like the parent who holds our hands when we are little and gets us safely across the street. It is not the strength of our faith but the strength of our God, he said. "God has the power to transform us," he said. "The power belongs to God."
Students bowed their heads for a time of quiet prayer, in which they could pray for God to be at work in their hearts or they could pray for each other.

A video from today's chapel: Holy, Holy, Holy.



Thursday, 8 November 2012

Preparing to be transformed

Today's chapel began with spiritual life director Gord Park reading Matthew 14:22-28.

"Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat."

Imagine what the frightened and lonely disciples were thinking when Peter began climbing out of the boat, Park said.

"What are you doing?" they would have said to Peter. "Sit down! You're rocking the boat!"

But Peter recognized who Christ is "and that changes everything," Park told students.

Next week will be Spiritual Emphasis Week at Smithville Christian High School and today's chapel was an invitation to "prepare our hearts, so we can be open to the power that can transform us," Park said.

Park said when we recognize who Jesus is and we act on it, it has the power to transform our lives.

"I don't know where you are going in your life, but it is no less incredible than walking on water," Park told students.

Park asked students to pray this weekend that they will be open to what God has in store for them.        

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

What are you pursuing?

Alumnus Lloyd VanOenen (class of 2010) was our chapel speaker today, sharing his post-graduation experiences as a student at the Center for Creative Media in Garden Valley, Texas.
VanOenen said when he started high school "God wasn't really real to me, because I didn't really make him real in my life." But when he was in Grade 11, he attended Teen Mania's Acquire the Fire and "I gave my life to God."

After that, VanOenen said his dream of becoming an actor changed into a desire to serve God.
Instead of focusing on himself, he said he focused on God "because you can't serve God and serve yourself," he said, quoting Matthew 6:24.
"You can't use the money you have to buy those things that make you feel good," VanOenen said. When trying to decide what to do with your life, you have to answer the question: "Who are you striving towards? Yourself or God?"
VanOenen said now that he has completed the two-year course at the Center for Creative Media, he is collaborating with a friend in making a movie.

We were also led in worship by a student praise team, who sang Mighty To Save, Grace Like Rain, and My Redeemer Lives. Scroll down to see photos and to hear the video.

Coming soon: Student Council's Christmas boxes for Rose City Kids. Fill a box and get a free dress-down day.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Instant Gratification

Smithville Christian High School's Spiritual Life director Gord Park said he used to have a gym membership, but it didn't work.
"It was taking too long, there weren't any results," he told students at Smithville Christian High School's weekly chapel, patting his stomach.
"Plus, I was stopping for donuts on the way there and the way back."
It's human nature to resist putting in the time it takes to get results, Park said. Playing guitar, joining a sports team, auditioning for the play, doing your school work: none of these things deliver instant gratification.
What's worse, the world is sending us messages about "constant gratification," he said. As a result, none of us likes to wait -- for the vending machine, for an internet connection, for traffic.
But God asks us to take a different approach to life, Park said, one that requires commitment.  "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me," he said, quoting Philippians 3:12. This year's spiritual life theme, Build the Body, requires that kind of commitment, he said. Without the desire to commit to building your body, or to building the body of Christ, it won't happen, he said.
But God gives us the desire to be strong in him. Park said. Philippians 2:13 says " for  it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." 
"We are not perfect yet, but God is giving us the desire, and the very desire to be like him is a gift from him," he said.
"Commitment: is it being faithful to a direction as long as it works for you? Or is it being faithful to a direction, no matter what?" Park asked, issuing a challenge to the students.
"The world is looking for truth," he said. "I challenge you to be a generation committed to faithfulness in God alone."
Park said we have the chance to show hope to those around us, even those who are struggling to overcome mistakes they've made. We all need to know "there is hope someplace," he said.   "It is a lie from the pit of hell that you will forever be defined by a stupid mistake you made when you were young.
"Because the truth is, there is hope," he told students. "Your faithfulness to God speaks volumes to those around you."
The Grade 11 Drama Class presented a short dramatic scene about teamwork and one of our student praise teams led us in worship with "Came To My Rescue," "Desert Song (I Will Bring Praise)" and "Revelation Song (Worthy Is The Lamb)."


Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Imagine having a nickname that identifies who you really are.
Bible and civics teacher Neale Robb told students at today's chapel that his childhood nicknames were "Shorty," "Junior," "Alf" and "Red."
But Robb also told students about a Bible character named Joseph, who ended up with a nickname that identified the kind of person he was.
Joseph was a giving man, who sacrificed his possessions to serve others, said Robb. (Acts 4: 36, 37)
He was also willing to take risks for an outsider who could have hurt him badly. (Acts 9:26,27)
And he was an encourager, who didn't give up on someone just because he had failed once. (Acts 15: 36-40).
That's why Joseph became known as Barnabas, which means "encourager," Robb said.
"He was willing to sacrifice for others, he was willing to befriend the stranger and the outcast," Robb said. "And he was willing to give someone a second chance."
Robb said Barnabas exemplifies this year's student council theme -- Faith in Action -- and he encouraged students to put their faith into action too.
He said they can give money to good causes or they can give their time "to help someone who doesn't seem to have a lot of friends, or who is a bit of an outsider.
"Invite them to eat with you, to join your group, or stop and talk with them for a while," he said. Those kinds of actions will also exemplify this year's spiritual life theme: build up the body.
"Let me challenge each of us to be like Barnabas, the encourager," Robb said.
"Wouldn't it be good to have a nickname like that?"
Robb concluded his message with prayer: "Open our hearts and eyes to see those around us who might need a little encouragement."
Today's chapel also featured praise and worship led by one of the student praise teams.
We sang "Blessed Be Your Name," "Our God," and "I Will Follow."


"It is quite a joy for me to come to chapel each week and be led in worship by one of our student praise teams," said Robb.


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Are families who choose Christian education getting their money's worth?


The results of the long-awaited Cardus Education Survey, released this week, unequivocally show that Christian education makes a difference -- a big one!
The Canadian data show that graduates of Christian schools are faithful, committed and contributing members of their communities. Compared to graduates of public schools and Catholic schools, they are more faithful in church attendance, they enjoy more stable family lives, they vote, they give more time and money to charitable causes and their faith continues to be an important part of their daily lives.
But there's more.
Visit the Cardus website to read a summary of the research or to purchase or download (free) the entire report. You can also sign up for the Cardus Education Survey newsletter. See
We'll be sharing more info about these results soon, but it's exciting to know that for the first-time ever there is accurate, reliable and credible proof: choosing a Christian high school for your children is worth it.
Smithville Christian High School.
Belong. Believe. Succeed.