Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Being radical

What does it mean to be a radical Christian?

This year's student council theme at Smithville Christian High School is "Be Radical" and it's based on the theme verse of Hebrews 10:24, said Sophie Bradbury, a member of the student council executive.

Bradbury said it's easy to "fall into the habit of listening to a message, reading a devotional or attending a big youth event and coming out inspired — but not doing much about it."

Instead, we can choose to live radically every day, she said, "by starting with prayer." God opens doors and the hearts of others when we approach them in his name and with his purpose, she said. "Every morning, take a few minutes to ask God to provide opportunities to love someone."

Hebrews 10:24 in the New Living Translation is "Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds," she said. "We are called to put our faith into action by loving others and doing good deeds to glorify God." The good deeds aren't a burden or a way to earn a reward, but rather are a joy.

"It can take only 20 seconds to step out of your comfort zone and show someone the love of Christ through a kind action," she said. "Imagine that you could be a part of how God could change their day, or even their life.

Bradbury said the word radical originated in "of the root."

"To be radical Christians, we need to be rooted in Christ," she said. "Let's not be satisfied with the status quo. We need to go all-in and all-out with God. Let's encourage each other and be active followers of Christ!"

Student council treasurer Joseph Falzone explained how the annual activities budget of roughly $40,000 is earned and allocated, and urged students to take advantage of the banquets, ski trips and other events that take place throughout the year. Roughly 75% of students take part in extra-curricular activities such as athletics, intramurals, choir, yearbook, and more, he said, but 100% of students can get involved in the all-school events.

Members of a student praise team led in worship with "By Faith," "Grace Like Rain," and "Not Ashamed."

It was a dress-down day for Welcome Week, with students dressing in team costumes and playing team challenges during an extended lunch hour, which included free lunch for everyone!

Praise team video is coming soon; check Facebook for Welcome Week photos.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Smashed beyond repair

No matter what happens or how bad things get, you are always a beloved child of God and you always have potential, said spiritual life director Gord Park at this week's chapel.

Park told the students about his father-in-law's habit of picking up old junk and bringing it home.

He'll be walking along or driving along and he'll see something that's been discarded and he'll say "How can people throw this away?" Park said. "Often he brings it to my house — because his house is full. It drives us crazy, but we love him."

One day his father-in-law found a busted-up guitar, smashed to bits. It was so damaged it was almost unrecognizable as a guitar, Park said.  Sure enough, he showed up on the Park's doorstep with the mangled instrument.

"I saw this in the garbage," his father-in-law said. "I know you're in a band and I know you teach drama, maybe you can use it for a prop. What do you think?"

"What do I think?" Park confided to the students. "I am thinking I am going to throw it away, but I am going to wait the obligatory four or five months until he stops asking about it."

But that's not what happened.

Instead, Park took the banged-up instrument to a buddy in his band, who has a friend who fixes guitars. When that friend saw the guitar and saw how damaged it was, he asked: "What is this? A test?"

Yet, only two weeks later the buddy opened his trunk and pulled out a guitar, beautifully refurbished and restrung.

"It looked like this," Park said, holding up the very guitar he had used that morning to lead the students in worship.

Park said the journey taken by the guitar -- from garbage heap to leading worship -- via a father, a son, and a devoted craftsperson, is a journey that people sometimes take too.

"The guitar looked like a piece of junk, lying on the side of the road," Park said, "but what the father sees is not a piece of junk, he sees what it was meant to be."

An instrument that appeared to have been smashed in anger and which looked like it could never again do what it was created to do, is handed from a father to a son because the father thinks it's important to him.

"The son takes a-hold of it and puts it in the hands of a master craftsman," Park said, "and it ends up leading some awesome kids in worship."

There are times when things happen that can make us think we are too broken to be fixed, Park said, or that make us believe we have caused too much damage for things ever to be restored.

"But there is a father who loves you, a son who sees you as special and a spirit who comes and heals," he said.

"You are never too broken to be fixed. You are never beyond hope, you can never go beyond a place where you cannot be made whole, where you cannot be what you were created to be."

No matter what happens, no matter what you do and no matter what goes wrong "God will always love you, God will always reclaim you, God will always be with you," he said.

Neale Robb then read a passage from John 21, where Jesus gives his disciple, Peter, an opportunity to restore the relationship he damaged through betrayal.

"Peter thought he had blown it for good, but Jesus had a job for him to do," Robb said.

He then prayed that God would "help us to recognize today how much you love us. Help us allow you to work in our lives and to fashion us more and more into the image of Christ," he prayed. "Use us to be a blessing to those around us."

Songs this morning included Our God, 10,000 Reasons and You Are My King. Chapel was on Tuesday this week because the Grade 12 students are leaving for a three-day retreat first thing Wednesday morning, Join us next Wednesday at 9 a.m. All are welcome!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Surprised by God

Students at Smithville Christian High School told stories of being surprised by God in their summer mission and service trips, saying that God was present even when things seemed to be going wrong.

Spiritual life director Gord Park said he asked random students to share what happened during their summer vacations and a cross-section of students volunteered.

The students travelled the globe, but no matter where they went or how they served, they all testified to God's faithfulness.

Kristen M. travelled to Washington, D.C. with a group of youth from Bethel Church in Dunnville to run a vacation Bible school and do gardening in an inner city neighbourhood. She said she was moved by the testimony of a youth leader who shared his story of God walking with his family during his daughter's battle with cancer.

Paige V. travelled to Lacombe, Alberta with alumna Jessica Dekker of Riverside Church in Wellandport to volunteer at a camp for people with developmental disabilities. Paige said she saw God in the joy of the campers as they joined in worship and delighted in their end-of-week awards assembly.

Braden V. travelled to London, Ontario with a SERVE team from Providence Church in Beasmsville to help in a soup kitchen and on some community service projects. Braden said he saw God's sense of humour in response to a comment made by a group leader, who had joked at the start of the week that he hoped the worst thing that would go wrong would be damage to the church building where the students were billeted.  On the final night, the youth had a celebratory "kitchen party" in the church and as they were worshiping and dancing so hard they cracked the ceiling in the church kitchen below. "I think it's funny we cracked the kitchen ceiling in a kitchen party and we weren't even in the kitchen," Braden said.

Rachel G., Miranda B. and Larissa B. travelled to California and Mexico with the youth group of Mountainview Church in Grimsby, developing and leading a vacation Bible school. Rachel said they felt God's presence as they planned and delivered their program and as they experienced the miraculous healing of a team member. Even through the original plans for the trip did not materialize, Rachel said she would rate the experience "definitely a 10. We had a lot of God moments."

Robert F. said he travelled to South Korea with students Curtis P., Sam H., Chris N. and Andy J., along with alumna Ann Kang and Paul Kang, pastor of Stoney Creek Korean Presbyterian Church. Robert said he was moved by the experience of the small group of Christian students in a Buddhist school, who were persecuted and punished for their faith but who persevered in gathering regularly to pray.

Joseph F. stayed home and operated his own business, but said he made a conscious decision to "shine for God" in his business dealings and to "bless the community" by organizing a charity event for the Grimsby Benevolent Fund.

"If you are nice to people you will bring out the best in everybody," Joseph said.

Park asked students to raise their hands if they had had a summer service or mission experience and if they had experienced God's presence in their lives.
The number of hands that went up is evidence that "students all over have a testimony that God is not dead and he is working in their lives," Park said. He said the chapel testimonies are just to get the conversation started, and encouraged all students to ask about and share their stories of being surprised by God.

"God has something amazing for all of us here in this school," he said.

Park thanked the students for their leadership in sharing their stories, and he also thanked the members of the praise team who led the school and a number of chapel guests in worship.

Here's a video of the praise team leading in worship with Oceans, by Hillsong United.

Chapel is every Wednesday morning at 9 and everyone is always welcome.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

First Day of School! What do you worry about?

Students at Smithville Christian High School started their school year with invitations to belong, with a promise that God will protect them, and with prayer.
At the opening chapel of the year, held in the gym on Tuesday morning, students were invited to join an impressive list of extra-curricular activities — some of which are already starting today. They also had their friendships, their studies and their club activities lifted up in prayer.
Teachers and students took turns leading the entire school community — and some visiting parents — in praying for the many ways in which school life is enriched. Student Sam D. prayed for student leadership, Mr. Park prayed for extra-curricular activities, student Sophie B. prayed for relationships between students, between students and teachers, and between families and teachers, Mrs. Horvath prayed for students' academic life and Mr. Robb prayed for the community of parents, family and friends who surround the school with their support.
The school also prayed for Pastor Wes Collins and his wife, Stephanie, who were seriously injured in a car crash last week.
Principal Ted Harris also led in an opening meditation, in which he described the things he worries about sometimes — his leadership, his hairstyle or his bad jokes.
He said students wonder about whether there will be someone to talk to on the bus, about finding a friend, about being a capable student. They wonder if they will make the team or pass the audition.
Parents wonder about their sons and daughters grabbing hold of faith, said Harris. They wonder if their children will thrive at Smithville Christian.
But no matter what we worry or wonder about, "God certainly has a plan for each of us and there is nothing that will stop it," Harris said. "The gifts you have, the passions that drive you -- God gave them to you for a reason."
God promises to uphold and sustain us despite our uncertainties and fears, Harris said, sharing words of comfort and promise from a pastoral blessing and from Scripture.
Harris said his pastor blesses the congregation with these words: "God go before you to lead you, God go behind you to protect you, God go beneath you to support you, God go beside you to befriend you. Do not be afraid. May the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon you. Do not be afraid. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord."
Harris also read from Psalm 139: 7-12 and from Romans 8:39
"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for the darkness is as light to you."

"Neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The subjects and extra-curricular activities that students are good at are gifts given to them for a reason, Harris told them. "The way you are with people, God gave you that personality for a reason. It will not turn out to be pointless because Scripture says it will not come back empty."

At the end of chapel, students were given an opportunity to welcome new students.

Also today: we had our first visit from a technician for the malfunctioning photocopier and Mrs. Vanderheide signed her first late slip. It's good to be back!