A Newsletter to help build and support
Life Group Ministries at Parkland Baptist Church
As you read through the articles in this edition of LifeNews you will get acquainted with some foundational principles for Life Group ministry here at PBC. We believe you will be encouraged to hear about how the Life Group ministry has become a significant blessing to Gerda Smith. You will be moved by Doug Munson’s testimony describing how he came to know the Lord Jesus while living in the NWT. So grab a mug of coffee, or make yourself a cup of tea and dig into this issue of LifeNews, and get a sense of the exciting work the Lord is doing in and through the lives of people in Life Group communities here at Parkland Baptist Church.
Articles in This Issue
The Presence, Power and Purposes of God
Out of Darkness
I Decided to Give Life Group A Try
The Presence, Power and Purposes of God in Life Group Community
Recently we had the privilege of hosting Randall Neighbour a well-known small group leader and writer. Over a weekend he shared with us several innovative and practical principles to help enhance and enlarge the small group ministry at Parkland Baptist Church. One of the foundational principles that Randall highlighted is what he called the 3P’s of small group community. In this edition of LifeNews, I will briefly unpack the 3P’s and apply them to how we do Life Group community. Before expanding on the 3P’s let’s start by identifying what the P’s represent: Presence, Power and Purpose.
1. Acknowledging the presence of Christ Jesus
When believers in Christ Jesus come together seeking to praise Him, to understand His Word and to discern His purposes, the Lord Jesus is present. When we join together in our Life Group communities throughout the week, we need not invite the presence of the Lord into our midst, He is already among us. Instead we acknowledge His presence because we have come together in His name. Jesus promised His presence would be among us when He said “where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matt 18:20). The Lord Jesus is not just present during our Sunday morning services, He is also present in small group communities. He is with us not to condemn but to instruct, to strengthen, to guide and help us in the day to day affairs of life. It is quite a remarkable truth to know that when we walk into the home or place where we gather as small groups we enter with a “holy expectation” knowing that the Lord Jesus is in our midst! What an honour that He would come to meet with us as we gather in His name. By not being in small group community with other like-minded believers, we may be missing out on the best that life has to offer! Because the Lord Jesus is present in our small group gatherings, we can experience the life changing power of His Spirit.
2. Experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul expressed that his deep longing was to know the power of His resurrection (3:10). Since the Lord Jesus is present when we come together in His name, this suggests we encounter One Who is more powerful than anyone or anything in this universe! There is no limit to His strength. Everything the Lord chooses to do in and through us is done by the power of His Spirit. As we are discipled by the Word of God, as we minister to one another, as we declare our praise to Him, as we devote ourselves to prayer we will experience in our small group gatherings the power of God at work transforming us, giving us daily victory over sin and propelling us forward into a life of service.
3. Discerning the purposes of God
Speaking of a life of service, one of the big questions we may ask ourselves is, “what is my purpose in life?” Maybe the better question is to ask, “what is God’s purpose for my life?” In our chaotic and unsettling world, it is sometimes hard to discern how God’s purposes are being worked out in our lives. Discovering the purposes of God is enabled by the Holy Spirit as He enlightens our minds through a corporate study of Scripture. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:11 that no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God who dwells in our midst knows the purposes of God and discloses those purposes to us as together we seek to know and apply what He has said in His Word. It is the Lord’s will to know all that He has planned for us so that we may walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him (cf., Col 1:9, 10). The Lord does not give insight into His purposes as an end in itself, He discloses His purposes in order to propel us forward into a life of service.
There is no greater knowledge than to know the presence and power of God. There is not greater purpose than to live in a manner worthy of Him. In light of these important truths, will you consider being a part of what the Lord is doing here at PBC? Will you consider joining a Life Group community so that you too can experience the incredible blessing of knowing the presence, power and purposes of God? It may be one of the best decisions you will ever make.
Out of the Darkness
by Doug Munson
Jesus said, “…He that follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
God sees our end from our beginning and all between, so He knows the way that we take and what we will encounter in this life.
I finished high school in Ontario in the early seventies, choosing to embark on the career of a “meteorological technician”. After training in Ottawa and Toronto, I was posted to Isachsen weather station in the Arctic Islands, 78 Degrees North (population 10). May 1974 was a good time to arrive, as the 24 hour midnight sun was out and would be up for three more months. But too soon it was late October, with the sun vanishing for 3 ½ months in all.
No sunshine! You cannot imagine. At first it was unique but then it became wearing. Late January and three months in, it was still dark. God must have been watching over me though. Remember too, “God is light.” I saw a glimmer of twilight on the south horizon, which gave me hope until the sun actually returned on February 14th, to stay. That was one of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen!
That year I moved on, to work at Cape Parry, North West Territories, on the dewline (population 30). It came around to February again, after the sun had returned from a 7 weeks’ absence, but all was not well. The isolation, etc. got to one. One Sunday night, as I was heading outside, suddenly another light came out of the sun. I heard the words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Then the light and voice were gone.
However, that revelation sustained me through the year as I left the North and returned down East. But a battle was going on inside as I sought to understand spiritual truth, and the enemy of our souls was resisting.
Finally, in November 1976, I was staying with a couple in Thunder Bay, Ontario and they shared their faith (beliefs) with me. Another young couple (missionaries) came over and shared too. I then burnt all my Transcendental Meditation material, etc. and came to believe in the Lord. So, I left the “darkness” of man’s religion and traditions behind and turned to the “light” of God’s Word. Praise the Lord!
In the years following, light and darkness have often come into play. This is both in the natural world and in the spiritual one too. How I love summer and its long daylight hours! Remember, in heaven, “there shall be no night.” God has it right! Also, there will be nothing to mislead us, so no spiritual darkness either. “There the wicked cease from troubling; there the weary be at rest.”
So, we look forward to “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.” In this life though, it will be back and forth between light and darkness. Let’s look to shine the light of God wherever we can, while He gives us strength. Then others too can come from darkness into light – the light which never diminishes. Amen!
Currently Doug lives with his wife, Madelaine, in Spruce Grove. He has a son, Aaron, in St. Albert and a daughter, Maria, in Sherwood Park. Also, two grandsons: Elliott, and Jaxon.
I Decided to Give Life Group a Try
by Gerda Smith
My name is Gerda Smith. As a youngster I attended a very strict Baptist church.
When I left home to live in the big city, my thoughts were, I had finally found freedom.
I married, had two children and over the years, I did take my kids to church now and then, but always found a reason not to attend.
About a year and a half ago, I was visiting Dr. McLeod, a chiropractor in our area. At one of my visits, I told him that I had skin cancer on my thumb. He took my hand, bowed his head and prayed for me. The Lord would not let this act out of my mind. I gave in and started church shopping. But no way was I going to a Baptist Church, way too strict. I attended two Lutheran Churches for a few weeks, but their service was not to my liking. I tried the Baptist Church in Stony Plain. That week, when I was at the Queen Street medical center, I ran into Deanna and Hank. During our conversation, I asked Deanna which church they attended - Parkland Baptist Church, she said. I mulled over this information for the week and decided I would give it a try on the following Sunday.
I walked up to the church on that Sunday, and who was standing there to greet me, but Deanna and Hank. Once inside, the Lord directed me to turn left and there I found Edith sitting alone, I thought that was a good place for me to slide into.
Deanna invited me to Thursday Life Group. I had no idea what a Life Group was. I decided to give it a try, find out what this was about. I arrived at her house on Thursday, warmly welcomed. Then I realized that this was a bible study and everyone present prayed, oh my goodness, I had not prayed in front of other people for years. When it was my turn, I cried through my prayer. I do have good news though, I don’t cry through all my prayers anymore. It is such a blessing and learning experience to review the Scripture passage of the previous Sunday’s sermon.
I have met such wonderful Christian ladies, Gale, Deanna, Linda, Heather and Mary Jo and thank God for them every day.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN EXPLORING THE BENEFITS AND BLESSINGS OF LIFE GROUPS?
As a vibrant church community that embraces Jesus as Lord, we believe Life Groups are an important way to grow in our faith in Christ Jesus. Life Groups are a means of accomplishing God’s greater mission. They provide a venue through which everyone is cared for. They are vehicles through which ministry is offered and received. In Life Groups we can be intentional about growing in Christ, learning to apply the whole counsel of God, serving one another in the gifts of the Spirit and reaching out to our neighbours with the love of Christ. If you are interested in exploring, joining, leading or co-leading a Life Group then please fill out the info below and put it in the offering plate, or return it to an usher or give it to Pastor Josh.