Consider Faith Today

On behalf of the Board of the Renewal Fellowship, I want to extend our thanks to the Presbyterian Record for what it has meant to many Presbyterians past and present across our denomination. Over the years, we have benefited from the shared experience of having a national printed periodical that connected, challenged, and gave voice to what it meant to be Christian, Presbyterian, and Reformed in our congregations, in our communities, and across Canada.

In recent years, the Record has been very generous in giving the Renewal Fellowship a regular column to bring an encouraging voice of God's renewal and mission within our denomination. Our past Executive Directors, Calvin Brown, and more recently, Fred Stewart, have been regular contributors, along with others, bringing a prophetic and pastoral perspective of God's on-going renewal in our personal, congregational, and denominational life and witness. Most recently, we were pleased that in the Viewpoint column of the November issue, our Annual General Meeting was covered, and in particular, the topic of Being Present presented by Liz Honeyford and Alex MacLeod. To David Harris and the editorial staff, we are grateful, and the loss of the Record is also a loss of a positive and established relationship that the Renewal Fellowship will miss.

As a Board, we have also been asked to recommend an alternative periodical, and though it does not have the same denominational flavour and perspective as the Presbyterian Record, we would encourage readers to consider Faith Today, published by EFC (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada). The editors of Faith Today have made an arrangement with the Record whereby they will be advertising in the December Record issue, then gifting to the Record's mailing list copies of Faith Today in both January and March. Presbyterians can then subscribe or not as they may wish. Personally, I have found that Faith Today strives to bring a consistent perspective that is open to engaging various world views, ideologies, and theologies without compromising the basic orthodoxy of the Christian faith.

In this way, I have found the editorials, articles, and regular columns helpful, as one who is seeking to be an engaged Christian and pastor participating in God's renewal and kingdom work in a Canadian context. As an example, in a recent sermon on the topic of stewardship at Glenbrook PC, I referred to an article in the March/April 2016 edition of Faith Today called "Being, Doing and Having" which I found to be helpful in my research and preparation. Further, in the January/February 2016 issue of Faith Today, there was a timely article entitled "Responding to a Refugee Crisis in 1915" written by Rev. Peter Bush, pastor of Westwood PC in Winnipeg MB. If you are looking for a printed and online alternative for the Presbyterian Record, I would encourage you to give Faith Today a try.

Pastor Ian McWhinnie, Mississauga, Ontario <pastorian@glenbrook.ca>

A Year in the Life

I retired four years ago after 39 years as a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC). This naturally put me out of the loop for a while with much of what goes on nationally in our church. But my vantage point has improved due to a year of frequent online meetings with more than a dozen PCC ministers from British Columbia to the Maritimes. We are part of the recently formed PSALT organization. The acronym stands for "Presbyterians Standing for Apostolic Love and Truth". I am deeply concerned for the church that we share in common, and I hope that you are, too. If not, this article will further your awareness of developments within the PCC.

Since the 1980s, a persistent group within the PCC has continued to lobby for the acceptance, promotion, and celebration of homosexuality at the level of marriage and ordination. This may or may not be an issue for you, but it is now coming to a head in the PCC. Having only organized in the fall of 2015, PSALT is late in engaging this issue. PSALT is a national group which aims at building the Presbyterian Church into a thoroughly biblical and reformed expression of our Christian discipleship and witness. We seek to preserve the biblical, doctrinal, and personal unity that we all once valued in the PCC. We have designated representatives in most presbyteries and it is a growing movement.

If you disagree with me on this issue, God will be the final judge between us, and I'm good with that. My friendship and respect for you will remain, but this article reflects how I am compelled to act out my faith in Christ.

What have I seen as I look at the culture's impact on our church?

The culture:

The initial issue of homosexual ordination/marriage within society has become obsolete. It has morphed into one of "identity" which is now being reworked into a militant promotion of "gender neutrality", the obliteration of the personally obvious and doctrinally critical biblical identities of male and female. Something is broken.

The church:

For the PCC to accede to the demands that the culture is placing upon it would require our setting aside Scripture as the sole authority for faith and life, for the Bible nowhere endorses homosexual activity – nor lying, greed, adultery, etc., for that matter – but clearly condemns all. If the PCC decides to endorse and celebrate the phenomenon of the sexual confusion now so rampant in our culture, it would separate us from Scripture, and it is our adherence to Scripture that defines where and what the church is. We would also be set adrift from our biblically-based doctrinal standards such as the Westminster Confession and Living Faith, and alienate us from our international sister church partners.

What kind of responses have I seen and heard this past year from individuals and sessions regarding the leadership of PSALT in the PCC? There is anger at PSALT: "Why would you oppose what is so obviously acceptable?" There is bewilderment: "We are okay here at St. Andrew's, and we don't wish to deal with this." There is hope: "Can't we all just get along together?" There is sacrifice: "I will be (or my congregation will be) leaving the PCC if this passes General Assembly." And there is also relief: "I am so glad PSALT is there."

It would be naive of us to think that the systemic brokenness that has befallen the United Church, the Anglican Church, and the Lutheran Church could not happen to us. Even a small split in our now precarious national church would have a serious impact on Presbyterians Sharing, the Pension Plan, and Church Offices at 50 Wynford Drive. It will affect your congregation. I want to make you aware of the threat to your church, to encourage your prayers for the PCC, and to motivate you to take appropriate personal action as the Spirit leads you. Yes, I'll even come and speak at your church or else find someone closer to go.

Our role as Canadian Presbyterians is not to be as so many churches have become – "chaplains to the culture" – but to be fearless, prophetic voices proclaiming the good news of new life and eternal life through Jesus Christ as Lord. Scripture teaches us that our true identity is found when we are in Christ, and when it is, we experience what I have personally experienced and seen in so many others, and of which Paul writes so much: the Christian life is transformational.

Sincerely,
James Statham,
Peachland, British Columbia

Check out www.psalt.info
Find us on Facebook
Contact us by e-mail at <contactpsalt@gmail.com>
If you resonate with PSALT's mission and would like to stay in touch, please drop us a note at PO Box 15065, Aspen Woods PO, Calgary AB T3H 0N8

Sure, I'll come and speak at your church – or find someone closer to come.
J.S. <jhwstatham@shaw.ca>

Two-Faced Renewal

The ancient Roman god, Janus, was portrayed with two heads looking in opposite directions. January, the first month in a new year, shares this concept of "double vision" – conveying the sense that as a new year begins and we're now focussing forward, we are not quite free of where we have been. That's a reasonable concept of renewal – going into uncharted territory, yet still connected to one's heritage.

However, I prefer my childhood cartoon images of this transition from one year to the next. The ending year was presented as a bent-over, long-bearded, haggard-looking old man. The approaching year was pictured as a bright-eyed, bouncing, beaming baby.

Now that I appear more and more like the year-ending old man, I find myself preferring the image of this "baby" as a model for renewal. The exuberant infant communicates a delightful message: here is almost unlimited potential; here is a fresh start; here is hope; and here is that often longed-for opportunity to have a "do-over".

You see, the baton passing from a worn-out, weary, old man to a fresh little baby implies that the past mistakes don't go forward with you, but the wisdom acquired from those mistakes does. And that implication has great attraction for me. In over thirty years of congregational ministry, almost as many as a husband and a father, and almost seven decades of life, my list of potential "do-overs" is lengthy.

Regrettably, as much as I am attracted to this "baby" image, spiritual renewal is more like the Janus concept. The thrust is definitely forward, seeking to venture into newness, aspiring to turn good into better, and revelling in the possibility of God's Spirit being released in ways and measures beyond one's imagining.

Yet the past must still be acknowledged – sometimes in good ways – as in affirming the faith that has nurtured us to this point, and celebrating the wisdom that has been acquired and the truths that have proved to be sustaining. And sometimes, this past is less helpful. Consider broken relationships that limp along into the new ventures, or past poor decisions whose effects linger and limit, as well as nostalgic longings that lessen capacity to embrace newness.

With that Janus perspective in mind, let me suggest a prayer for renewal that, if offered in humble trust, might bring the renewing hopes of the Baby more fully into our lives in 2017.

    Lord of time and space, healer of brokenness, finder of the lost, source of eternal hope and provider of strength and wisdom, hear my prayer for renewal.
    May all that has gone before me be a guide into ways of living that are compassionate, grace-filled, and righteous.
    Teach me to embrace with passion what I and my forebears have learned of Your holy love and tender, generous mercy.
    May Your abundant forgiveness free me – and all who love You – from debilitating memories, futile remorse, and paralyzing fear.
    Bless my eyes with visions of service to others that restore and embrace the desperate and the desolate.
    Fill my heart with dreams of passion that confront entrenched mindsets and systems which diminish and destroy.
    Infiltrate my mind with insights that discern truth from error and substance from shallowness.
    Steel my will with courage and boldness.
    And may the glory be Yours alone. Amen.

Ian Shaw, Simcoe, Ontario
<rianshaw48@gmail.com>

Understanding and Interpreting the Bible

Virtually all branches of the Christian Church refer to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the standard of belief with regard to their doctrine and to their practices of faithful living and rituals. In spite of that common affirmation, the diversity of doctrine, practices, and rituals among those who self-identify as Christians is staggering. Even when one narrows the sample down to one particular denomination (e.g. The Presbyterian Church in Canada), the range of doctrinal emphases and/or exclusions, of stresses in personal faithfulness, of methodologies in worship, and of priorities in mission are unbelievably high.

Yet, in denominational life, core unity in essential doctrine, lifestyle practices, and governing regulations is a requirement for organizational vitality and focus. To determine the extent and the content of those requirements, Presbyterians most often turn to the Scriptures for guidance. Given all the diversity arising from various understandings of the Bible as noted above, how do we achieve that goal of core unity?

At last June's General Assembly, the Committee on Church Doctrine presented a study paper, Understanding and Interpreting the Bible. It outlines some principles of interpretations that seek to provide a basis for a common and accepted approach to understanding and applying the Scriptures to our life, mission, and governance as a denomination. The 2016 General Assembly has commended this document to The Presbyterian Church in Canada for use, but also invited response both to its usefulness and to its comprehensiveness. The deadline for said responses is January 31, 2017. Responses can be sent to the Committee Convenor, Blair Bertrand, through the General Assembly Office. The document, Understanding and Interpreting the Bible, can be downloaded at presbyterian.ca/downloads/29161/ or found on pp. 265-278 of the 2016 Acts and Proceedings. This study paper provides good material for personal and congregational reflection. Your feedback can assist the Committee, so what is now good can become excellent. Given the challenges before us in this century, a guide that is excellent is a treasure to be passionately pursued.

Ian Shaw, Simcoe, Ontario
<rianshaw48@gmail.com>

Recommendation No. 7 That the document Understanding and Interpreting the Bible be commended to congregations, presbyteries, and other groups in The Presbyterian Church in Canada for their use.

Recommendation No. 8 That sessions, presbyteries, and other interested groups using the document Understanding and Interpreting the Bible report comments to the Committee on Church Doctrine through the Assembly Office by January 31, 2017, and that the results of these comments be reported to a future General Assembly.

What is "Up!"?

"Up! – Get up, look up, be up" is a daily e-mail devotional written by Rev. Matthew Ruttan, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Barrie, Ontario. It is published five days a week (Tuesday to Saturday), and is something you can read in about one minute. I started my subscription about a month ago, and I found the devotionals practical, easy to read, and creative. I wondered, "How and why does this busy pastor, with a young family and a dynamic church, find the time and energy to write five devotionals a week?" So… I asked him. He told me that he previously subscribed to some e-mail devotionals that he found helpful, but sometimes seemed vague or not connected to his day-to-day life. He also told me that he enjoys writing and that he thought God wanted him to write as a part of his ministry. It fit well with his overall ministry focus on teaching, some of which was firmly rooted in online ministry through a blog, website, and social media. Matthew reminded me that Jesus met people where they were – on hillsides, by the lake, at the workplace. Today the majority of people, and especially younger people, are spending lots of time online – sometimes in positive ways, and sometimes in unhelpful ways. It is Matthew's hope that his online devotionals will help people in very straightforward and practical ways to get on board with the reality of God's imaginative plans for our lives and our world.

UP! started in April 2015 with a few dozen followers. A year later, the daily subscribers total almost 300. Subscribers include members of his congregation, a wider group of people from Canada and the U.S.A., and even a few from elsewhere in the world.

I asked Matthew, "What is your motivation to continue?" He said, "Jesus and His kingdom are the motivation. Seeing people mature in their faith is the motivation. As the ministry grows, I personally know fewer and fewer of the subscribers, but from what I can tell, the readership is very diverse. There are devout Christians who receive it, as well as people new to the faith, and many who are just curious about this whole Jesus thing. It's energizing to see how a range of people can be helped in real, day-to-day ways in their faith. Plus, it keeps me growing as a leader. Just like a sermon, each devotional I write is first written to me. So writing this devotional keeps me "up" on my toes about living with integrity as a follower of Jesus."

I also asked him, "How do you find the time to write five devotionals a week?" He answered, "I get that question a lot! I'm disciplined with how I use my time. I set time aside each morning to read and write. I don't have an exact count, but I probably read between 20 and 40 books a year. And when you produce a lot of content like I do (blogs, devotionals, sermons, Bible studies), you very quickly develop a system for cataloging ideas, inspiring quotes, and helpful stories. That really helps. So if I want to use a story I heard Fred Craddock tell or a quote that C.S. Lewis said, I have a system where I can pull it up in about 30 seconds. Plus, I really enjoy writing, so it's a part of my day I look forward to, and that gives me energy for other things."

Wherever you are in your journey of faith, I think that you'll find these short, practical devotionals a great part of your day. Want to learn more and be blessed? Just visit www.MatthewRuttan.com/Up and you can sign up in 13 seconds.

Linda Shaw
Past Chair of the Renewal Fellowship Board
Coordinator, Renewal Fellowship Prayer Calendar

Video Resources for the PCC Human Sexuality Discussions

The Presbytery of Hamilton hosted a day-long forum entitled “Speaking Truth in Love: A Forum on Human Sexuality” on Saturday, January 30th, 2016, at Chedoke Presbyterian Church, Hamilton, Ontario. The videos from this forum are now available online on YouTube.

Presbytery of Hamilton Human Sexuality Forum Participants
Presbytery of Hamilton Human Sexuality Forum Participants

Talk #1 – Setting the Tone – Rev. Dr. Clyde Ervine

How are we to talk respectfully and honestly about our deeply held differences? Examining the teaching of Scripture together in a way that is civil, gracious, and generous.

The transcript of this presentation is also posted here.

Talk #2 – Presenting the Traditional Position – Rev. Dr. Kevin Livingston

(i) How has he come to the view he has on human sexuality in the light of the biblical witness?
(ii) What does a biblical theology of human sexuality and marriage look like?
(iii) How does Scripture point the way to how this is all to be worked out in the leadership and ministry of the church?

The transcript of this presentation is also posted here.

Talk #3 – Presenting the Revisionist Position – Rev. Hugh Donnelly – is available in video and in transcript.

Talk #4 – Responding to the Traditional Position – Rev. Wes Denyer – is available in video and in transcript.

Talk #5 – Responding to the Revisionist Position – Rev. Karla Wubbenhorst

The transcript of this presentation is also posted here.

Talk #6 – Question and Answer Period – is available here.

Here is a reflection from a pastor in Quebec on his viewing of the video from the day at Chedoke:

    If my Session is any indication, I would say that the Hamilton debate has now effectively replaced Body, Mind and Soul as the denominational reference point/benchmark for our discussion on this subject. After three months, I am the only person in the congregation who has actually read B.M.&S., despite all my prodding in that direction. It is a tedious and tendentious bit of work – and in the wrong medium to engage the debate/discussion it calls for. The prospect of organizing a congregational study day around it had zero appeal to folks here. But there would/will be a crowd to watch the Hamilton five go at it (respectfully) and to use that as a basis for our own discussion. My hunch is that is also about where the Presbytery of Montreal is. It has taken us awhile to work up any enthusiasm to re-engage this subject. But a study day is now planned for April.

One of the prime organizers of the Forum summarizes the day this way:

    The direction of the day in Hamilton was to respect people holding different views as followers of Jesus Christ and to biblically engage their understanding of human sexuality in a spirit that valued their contribution albeit disagreeing with it. To that end Kevin, Hugh, Karla, Wes, and Clyde offered me and, I believe, the PCC a positive model of the respectful dialogue this discussion deserves.

Our Constitution

Preamble

In our love for the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and in gratitude to God for its contribution to our spiritual growth, we as office-bearers, members and adherents, desire to be united in common fellowship,

In prayer to Jesus Christ, as King and Head of the Church, our Saviour and Lord, that there be kindled in our midst the flame of the Holy Spirit's life in calling us to the urgency of our task and the need of our times,

Further, reminded of past visitations of that same Spirit, we see the need, first personally and then corporately, for godliness in our lives as gift of the Spirit of holiness, and for evangelistic zeal, as the Lord adds daily to our number such as would be saved,

Therefore we unitedly express the following concerns:

  • Fervent intercession for the Lord to renew his Church for authentic witness and consistent obedience
  • Fresh power and authority for the local congregation through the Breath of God in our structures and organizations
  • Responsible participation in the courts of the church
  • A deep hunger for the teaching of the Bible in its authority
  • A recall to lives of biblical purity, especially on the part of those entrusted with leadership of the people of God
  • A zeal for reaching, through the instrumentality of a national church with a rich heritage, those lost without God and without hope in the world
  • Fellowship for believers to give encouragement to continued witness and ministry within the Presbyterian Church in Canada

Accordingly, seeking to bring glory to our sovereign God, we have banded together in common resolve and commitment.

  1. The name of this fellowship shall be "The Renewal Fellowship Within The Presbyterian Church in Canada."
  2. The Objects of the Fellowship shall be as follows:

    (a) The establishment of means of contact and encouragement for those interested in renewal within the Presbyterian Church in Canada affording an opportunity for them to relate to one another and discuss the issues from time to time arising within our denomination, mutually encouraging and strengthening one another.
    (b) The promotion of publications and other materials that would clarify, especially for lay people, the concerns that we share, providing biblical and theological comment and encouraging practical and specific ideas for their achievement. This could include the editing, preparation, and circulation of a national paper.
    (c) Encouraging the development of programmes, especially in the areas of prayer/intercession, small groups and evangelism. The objective in such endeavours is to be supportive, constructive, and positive.
    (d) To work through clearly defined and mutually agreed upon goals and objectives and to provide the means by which these can be achieved. Specifically, the organizing of conferences and other seminar-type activities which will facilitate the long-range process of strengthening the reformed and evangelical witness with our denomination.

  3. Membership: The Membership of this Fellowship shall be composed of individuals who are members or adherents of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and are in agreement with the objects of this Fellowship, as stated above, and are prepared to signify their agreement with the Statement of Faith (Appendix A).
  4. The Council of Reference: There shall be a Council of Reference established by the initial meeting of the Fellowship, and to which members may be added or deleted at subsequent meetings. Members shall be chosen for their wisdom, judgment, maturity or expertise in a specific area of competence, to advise the Board of Directors and the Executive Director. The Board of Directors shall, as they may request, hold a joint meeting with the Council of Reference, but otherwise their function shall be to offer advice and help by correspondence or personal contact as the Board of Directors may desire.
  5. The Board of Directors

    (a) The Board, all of whom shall be able to subscribe to the system of doctrine as contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith, shall consist of twelve representatives, of whom not more than six shall be ordained teaching elders. Four of their number shall be elected at each annual meeting.
    (b) The Board shall have authority to conduct all business arising in the Fellowship between annual meetings. It shall meet three times a year. The Board may fix in advance the day of the month in which such meetings will be held, and, in the absence of a resolution fixing such dates, the meeting shall be held at the call of the chair.
    (c) Notice of all Board meetings shall be given to all members of the Board not less than thirty (30) days prior to the meeting.
    (d) The officers of the Board shall consist of the following: Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and Executive Director (non-voting member). These five officers shall constitute the Executive Committee of the Fellowship.
    (e) The Executive Committee shall have authority to deal with all matters affecting the Board of the Fellowship arising between meetings of the full Board and which require action before the next meeting.
    (f) The officers of the Board shall constitute the officers of the Fellowship. They shall be elected by the Board following each annual meeting.
    (g) Board members will normally be appointed for three years with a possibility of being renewed once for another three-year term. Normally a year’s pause would take place before further service on the Board. Provision and management of those serving partial terms will be decided by the Board of Directors.

  6. Contributions

    (a) Each individual member shall contribute in each calendar year for the expenses of this Fellowship a minimum sum of ten dollars.
    (b) The organization shall be carried on without purpose of gain for its members and any profits or other accretions to the organization shall be used in promoting its objects.

  7. Banking arrangements

    (a) All monies received by or on behalf of the Fellowship shall be recorded and deposited in a Bank to be named by the Treasurer and approved by the Executive Committee.
    (b) All cheques issued on behalf of the Fellowship of $1000 or less shall require just one signature, and that signature to be that of one of the Executive Committee members (Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Director). Any cheques being issued over $1000 would continue to require the signatures of any two of the above officers.

  8. Head Office will be in the Province of Ontario.
  9. Executive Director

    (a) There shall be an Executive Director of The Fellowship. He or she shall be hired by the Board.
    (b) The Executive Director shall have the responsibility of conducting the affairs of the Fellowship in accordance with the objects herein set forth, and shall act in cooperation with, and under the oversight of, the Executive Committee.
    (c) The Executive Director shall receive a salary at least equivalent to the minimum operative in the presbytery of residence for salary, house allowance, and (where applicable) study leave, in addition to pension provision and other requirements of the General Assembly as applicable for professional church workers; and subject to annual review.
    (d) The Executive Director shall be an ex officio member of the Board.

  10. The Duties of the Officers of the Fellowship

    (a) The Chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the Fellowship and of the Board at which he or she may be present, and shall assist the Executive Director in conducting its affairs.
    (b) The Vice-Chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the Fellowship and of the Board in the absence of the Chairperson, and shall give such assistance to the Chairperson and to the Executive Director as may be required.
    (c) The Treasurer shall receive all monies paid into the Fellowship, shall bank all monies received, and shall keep continuous record of all receipts and expenditures on behalf of the Fellowship. He or she shall present a financial statement of the Fellowship at each annual meeting and at each meeting of the Board. He or she shall maintain a list of contributions made by the members.
    (d) The Secretary shall record minutes of the annual meetings of the Fellowship, and of all meetings of the Board and of the Executive Committee. He or she shall conduct the necessary correspondence of the Board and/or the Executive Committee. He or she shall maintain and keep up-to-date a list of members and their addresses.
    (e) The Executive Director shall perform the duties outlined in Article 9 (b). He or she shall also make the necessary registration agreement with the Revenue Canada Taxation Department to enable the Treasurer to issue receipts for contributions valid for Income Tax purposes.

  11. Meetings

    (a) The Fellowship shall meet once every year at a time and place to be named by the Executive Committee.
    (b) Notice of all meetings of the Fellowship shall be given by letter to all members at least ninety (90) days prior to the date of the said meeting.
    (c) Voting: Individual members who have joined seven (7) days prior to the meeting shall be entitled to a single vote at each meeting of the Fellowship.
    (d) Nominating procedure: The Executive shall constitute a Nominating Committee to nominate candidates for the Board as provided in section 5(a). Further nominations for candidates for these categories may be made from the floor at any annual meeting.
    (e) Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order.

  12. Auditors: These shall be appointed by the Executive Committee.

  13. Amendments:

    (a) Amendments to this Constitution may be made at any annual meeting of the Fellowship by a two-thirds majority vote of those present.
    (b) Notice of any proposed amendment shall be in writing and shall be forwarded to all members of the Fellowship at least (30) days prior to any annual meeting at which the proposed amendment shall be considered.

  14. Vacancies: If the office of any officer or member of the Board becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, the vacancy will be filled by the Executive Committee until the next election.

APPENDIX A
OUR DOCTRINAL BASIS

We are in full agreement with the faith confessed by the Presbyterian Church in Canada in the subordinate standards of the Westminster Confession of Faith as adopted in 1875 and 1889, and in the Declaration Concerning Church and Nation of 1954, as well as with the standards and subscription for membership and leadership within the Presbyterian Church in Canada. In reaffirming these convictions, we wish to underline the following emphases of our biblical, evangelical and reformed faith.

    (a) The unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Godhead.
    (b) The sovereignty of God in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgement.
    (c) The divine inspiration and entire trustworthiness of Holy Scripture as originally given, and its supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
    (d) The universal sinfulness and guilt of all people since the fall, rendering them subject to God's wrath and condemnation.
    (e) Redemption from the guilt, dominion and pollution of sin, solely through the sacrificial death (as our Representative and Substitute) of the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.
    (f) The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and his ascension to the right hand of God the Father.
    (g) The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration.
    (h) The justification of the sinner by the grace of God through faith alone.
    (i) The indwelling and work of the Holy Spirit in the believer.
    (j) The one Holy Universal Church which is the Body of Christ and to which all believers belong.
    (k) The expectation of the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hope for the New Year

As we are entering another new year, I am reminded of the apostle Paul's words, particularly in light of the Christmas story: the weakness of God is stronger than our strength and the foolishness of God is wiser than our wisdom. I can only imagine how weak and foolish God's response to this world appeared to so many: a baby lying in a manger. The troubles of that world were many and profound. Moreover, God's people were being oppressed by Rome and that was insidiously and blatantly infecting them with the poison of corruption. All the power and strength lay in other hands and God's people wondered how they might ever prove to be faithful, let alone survive the next year.

So too may we wonder as we approach the New Year. Nothing is certain and the powers of the world seem to be taking the world in a direction we would rather not go. No matter what we do we feel ourselves to be powerless about it all because, ironically, today we are the weakness and foolishness of God. God enters this world in us to do his saving work. Our task is simply to be faithful to God's own weakness and foolishness in Christ. We are called to love even our enemies. We are urged to lay down our lives for one another. "We are compelled to be faithful and to guard the good deposit entrusted to us" (2Timothy 1:14), even when the world crucifies the weakness and foolishness of God.

I have to admit that there are many times, when I look ahead, that despair seems stronger than hope. And so I am reminded of the weakness and foolishness of God lying in the manger, or as the apostle Peter put it: the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! This weakness and foolishness of God overcame death itself and rose up far more powerful and glorious than ever before. This is the Lord's intention for God's people as well: that the weakness and foolishness of God would overcome this world again through us. So this year, in light of the One born of God and lying in a manger, I need to enter the New Year with the apostle's words in my heart. Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith, because the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.
Continue to pray morning and evening at 7:14 for The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

The Lord's blessing to you in 2016.

The Rev. Charles Cook
Bethel Presbyterian Church, Riverview, New Brunswick, and Renewal Fellowship Board Member <cscook@bethelpresbyterian.ca>

Prayer is a Challenge

Prayer is a Challenge

Renewal Fellowship Board Members meet in October 2015 in Simcoe, Ontario: Back Row – Fred Stewart (Executive Director), Doug Johns, Ian McWhinnie, Germaine Lovelace, Bill Harrison (Administrative Assistant). Front Row – Janie Robertson, Karin Cowan, Nan St. Louis, Charles Cook, Linda Shaw. Absent: Duncan Cameron, Leslie Ruo.
Renewal Fellowship Board Members meet in October 2015 in Simcoe, Ontario: Back Row – Fred Stewart (Executive Director), Doug Johns, Ian McWhinnie, Germaine Lovelace, Bill Harrison (Administrative Assistant). Front Row – Janie Robertson, Karin Cowan, Nan St. Louis, Charles Cook, Linda Shaw. Absent: Duncan Cameron, Leslie Ruo.

The Renewal Fellowship Board two-day meeting in October was held in my home in Simcoe. Yes, we all slept in one house, with some sleeping on mattresses on the floor in their sleeping bags. It was what you might call "a bonding experience."

As I was organizing the continental breakfast on the morning of the second day, the alarm on The Rev. Nan St. Louis' watch went off. I asked, "What's that all about?" Nan said, "It's 7:14 and that's my reminder to pray for The Presbyterian Church." I was amazed and somewhat embarrassed because even though I've been on the Renewal Fellowship Board for 13 years over my lifetime and am currently the Chair of the Renewal Fellowship Board, I have not been faithful in taking up the Prayer Logo challenge. Why not? Too busy with an assortment of other responsibilities? But that is not a good excuse, is it? I don't have an alarm on my wrist-watch and I don't even own a cell phone, but I do need to figure out a way to remember my commitment to pray for our denomination morning and evening.

Here's a less "jazzy" tech solution to the reminder problem: How about those of you who are praying morning and night email me and ask me how I'm doing? It would be encouraging to hear from those who have taken up the challenge and motivating for those of us who are a little too distracted with the other cares of the day. Email me and tell me you are praying for The Presbyterian Church in Canada. I won't publish your name, but I will let everyone know in our Spring Renewal News how many people have taken up the challenge to pray morning and night for The Presbyterian Church in Canada – the church we love and the church which needs renewal and God's wisdom at this time in our history.

As the New Year begins, may the Holy Spirit protect our church, and challenge us to be faithful and renewed in our witness and calling to follow Jesus in 2016. Let's take up the challenge of 2 Chronicles 7:14. May God bless us and make us a blessing to our communities, our country, and the world.

With thanks for your ongoing support of the Renewal Fellowship, and wishing you a "wonder-filled" New Year.

Linda Shaw
Chair, Renewal Fellowship Board <rfprayer@gmail.com>

Print Resources for the PCC Human Sexuality Discussions

There has been a request for resources that come from an evangelical/conservative point of view. Here are a few that have been forwarded to us by members and board members of the Renewal Fellowship. We welcome your comments and suggestions on these resources and any others you would suggest. Please email Linda Shaw, Board chairperson, at <ianandlindashaw@gmail.com>.

A Letter from the Committee on Church Doctrine: This commentary is in response to the Body, Mind and Soul Study Guide. Responses may be sent directly to the Convener of the Committee on Church Doctrine, The Rev. Ian Shaw, at <rianshaw48@gmail.com>, or forwarded to the Committee through the General Assembly Office.

Speaking Truth in Love: A Forum on Human Sexuality: The Presbytery of Hamilton hosted this day-long forum on Saturday, January 30th, 2016, at Chedoke Presbyterian Church, Hamilton, Ontario. Besides the videos, there are transcripts of presentations by Clyde Ervine, Kevin Livingston, Hugh Donnelly, Wes Denyer, and Karla Wubbenhorst.

Channels Articles: 13 articles on human sexuality have appeared on this site in the past. Read More

Print Resources:

Links following the titles are where e-books or hard copies may be purchased.

What does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? – Kevin DeYoung [ Google ] [ Amazon ]

Turning Controversy Into Church Ministry: A Christlike Response to Homosexuality – W.P. Campbell [ Google ] [ Amazon ]

The Uncomfortable Church: Can Gays Be Reconciled to the Body of Christ? – Dr. Lawrence Brice [ Amazon ]

Washed And Waiting: Relections On Christian Faithfulness And Homosexuality – Wesley Hill [ Google ] [ Amazon ]

Creation and Covenant: The Significance of Sexual Difference in the Moral Theology of Marriage – Christopher Roberts [ Google ] [ Amazon ]

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Text and Hermeneutics – Robert Gagnon [ Abingdon Press ] [ Free materials on the author's website ] [ Amazon ]

Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexual Debate – Thomas E Schmidt [ Google ] [ Amazon ]