Gathering

We Are A Group Project

There is healthy fear and unhealthy fear. A healthy fear spoken of in the Bible is referred to in Hebrews 4:1 — a kind of fear about missing out on GOD’s rest because of our unbelief. I was reading up on this and saw a healthy kind of fear attached to this. We should fear losing belief! We should fear being lured away from GOD, falling to the temptation of not trusting, falling to the temptation of anger, bitterness, self-reliance. Finding our selves in a dark an anxious self-imposed exile. It is healthy to fear that.

This fear is motivational. This fear is the kind of fear that keeps us away from danger and in the freedom and joy of healthy boundaries. John Piper uses the illustration of a child being told to STAY OFF the busy street where there are cars zooming by. In the yard the child plays, full of freedom, not thinking about the street at all. It isn’t as if those boundaries have stolen joy, they have actually given the child a sigh of relief to be able to play safely. If they look over at the street they might think for a moment, “What would it be like to play there…” and maybe imagine it. Along with this should come a little warning in their conscience, “Don’t do it.” The “don’t” instills a little fear of consequences. That fear should be enough to make the child determined to keep playing within the safety zone and not risk losing it!

Piper says that in our journey following Jesus, “persevering is a group project.” We need our “fellow followers” to be united with us in faith. We need to take care of each other and call each other to not fall away. When we see our brothers and sisters heading towards that curb by the street, Hebrews says “call out” (exhort!) each other so none of us are deceived and pulled away from what we believe.

Pulling away from belief happens. It is usually not an abrupt denial, it is the slow “not sure” and the step back from “being with” and the gradual withdrawal of our affections and our "worship. It is the grumbling, it is the disgruntlement, it is the dissatisfaction that excuses the erosion of our faith. It is when we begin hiding and justifying stepping out onto the street.

Pulling away can happen when we wrestle, waiting on GOD to solve something. In the waiting distance can grow, we can forget the GOD of miracles. Impatience can make us rush towards alternatives found elsewhere.

Fearing this is healthy! It causes us to put into place things that will keep us sure-footed. What we do in community is the yard vs. the street. There is safety in numbers as we ponder GOD together, pray together, be in His Word, share from our lives, practice being family, looking out for one another, partnering with one another (speaking of Partnership, if you would like to be unified with us and confidently be on the same team, join in with the Partnership class this Sunday afternoon, September 8, from 11:30-1:30, lunch included. Contact Shawn Klassen: shawn@sunridge.org)

Small Group sign-ups are up! Run towards it — have a little healthy fear for being “out there” on your own, and get in a group where you will be known by people who will watch your back. Feel the relief of being prayed for and celebrated and part of the conversation and the growth that happens as we sharpen one another.

Sign up on Sunday at the Connect Center (even if you have been in a group previously), or online!

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 

Matters of the Spirit

This past week something devastating happened. A young man, just 15, drowned after jumping off of the Gellatly wharf structure. A phone call from a friend to my son, to me: “Did you hear…?” And then a local news story confirming: I knew this boy.

I knew this boy in the past; he was one of the kids we picked up from school for our Out of School Care Program. He was what you would expect a 10 year old skateboarder to be! Where he went, the party went. He was that boy who could at the same time drive you crazy and make you laugh, with too much energy to be contained. He had these dark curls in his hair, cap on all the time, such a grin; such charm. He was the kind you kept forgiving because in his mischief were layers of all kinds of good.

Others must have been captured by him too because at the vigil there were hundreds of people, hundreds of mourners making the air thick with grief. Some, overcome with grief.

I had earlier been to the WK1 gathering, the gathering of the churches at the Annette Boudreau Amphitheater. The theme was “the power of the Holy Spirit.” We gathered — followers of Jesus — we gathered and prayed and sang and listened and asked of GOD: fill us with Your Spirit. We prayed over our city…

Then a few minutes later Mike and I stood on this wharf with evening settling in and the water below us dark and sad. We prayed silently. The lyrics of a song we had just sung, in mind:

“Holy Spirit
You are welcome here…”

Here too. Please be here.

”Come flood this place
And fill
this atmosphere…”

If ever there was a place of need for GOD to walk among us, it was here.

GOD is so near to the brokenhearted. Often, I think, His nearness is through us. His Spirit present through us.

Doesn’t He send His Spirit to work in times like these? Doesn’t He give us, as followers, the ability to be useful to the grieving? We are comforted so we can comfort, the Bible says.

Our own words fall flat, we need the Spirit to speak, to bring real comfort and hope. We need the deep Truth of the Spirit forming words that matter.

So followers, let’s ask to be more surrendered to GOD’s Spirit. Yes, let’s ask. Let’s ask Him to empty us so He can fill our hearts, our mouths, our decisions, our obedience so that when it matters the most, we are the most ready.

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 




Three

This week I was thinking about how I relate to GOD

and He turned the question around

and had me ask instead,

“LORD, how do You relate to me?”

It was like He was waiting to tell me because there it was:

“Like you are three.”

What? Three?

I smiled at this picture. I have spent summer Sundays with the preschool class so I had ready ideas about this…

  • Three is big enough to ”help,” yet is she? Her father smiles, affirms her efforts and then does it all Himself. All glory goes to GOD!

  • Three thinks her words and theories make so much sense! On and on she goes. Her Father isn’t taking notes, let’s just say. He does, however, love her chatter.

  • Three over-exaggerates injury like it is the end of the world! “Oh that looks like it hurts,” He says, applying a bandaid for good measure with His nail-pierced hands.

  • Three is outrageously stubborn. Three has a will ten times her size! Three is very sure what she wants is what she needs, and her Father (thankfully) is firm for her own good.

  • Three wants snacks (mostly ice-cream) and resents carrots. The Father gives her carrots and rolls His eyes.

  • Three plays. She plays! She is full of wonder and imagination and freedom and this is an absolute delight to the Father who enters in to The Joy, The Grace, The Communion.

  • Three needs watching. She needs a hand across the street. She needs instruction. She needs rest. The Father knows what she needs and doesn’t withhold that care.

  • Three is so repetitive. She mostly asks “how” and “why” and “when.” The Father does not remain silent, though often the information is too big for her and He can only say “you’ll see” and “because” and “wait and see.”

I wrote more about three and it was so satisfying. So freeing. I am that childlike, Father, and it is good to know. My role isn’t to impress GOD, but to love Him.

My Father sings over me Zephaniah says, this is what a Father does with a three-year-old. He sits at the table, and by her bed, and in the living room, and He starts a tune that becomes a laugh that becomes a play that becomes a hug. He enjoys Three and she enjoys Him right back. This is worship, this enjoyment we have in our Father and all He has made and all He has done.

Three thanks her Father more than anything! This is because He does everything! She isn’t doing any of the heavy lifting even though she thinks she is — thank GOD!

I can forget this but I shouldn’t.

Being in preschool class this summer has been a class I needed to take. This too is the way of GOD. He calls us out, out of wherever we are to give us a view we can’t have where we were.

He gives us an experience, He gives us material to draw from and then He one day says, “This is what I mean…”

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 

I Have Learned

It’s a little detail, but at the beginning of Philippians 4:11-12 Paul says, “I have learned…” Have you ever paused to think about that? This implies that there was something Paul didn’t know how to do in his walk with Christ and had to practice in order to “get it.” So just pause here and ask yourself, “What do I have to practice?” and then add on, “Do I?”

I was at the Connect Center looking at these four cards and thought of how this little display captures the priorities of what we have been called to practice:

Say YES — it’s a first step, but it is a surrender our whole life long. Are we practicing surrender? Surrender to the beautiful Gospel truth of our absolute need of the cross, and then to living out this life of freedom because of Jesus? Can we say we are learning to?

BiBLE — are we even trying to practice this? Right below the card is a journal and a reading guide. How many in SunRidge are learning from their Bible, letting it reach into their daily lives? Are we slowing down to let the Word of GOD speak, are we humble enough to try journaling to let our pen on paper be led by the Spirit? Oh I so loved this quote by John Piper: “there are eyes in pencils and pens.” Yes! I know this to be true! Are we learning here, allowing this good habit to drive out our harmful ones and introduce life back into us?

PRAYER — Daniel prayed three times a day “just as he always had done”, practicing. What did he practice? Thankfulness above all! (Daniel 6:10). This is what we learn in prayer, eventually. That prayer “to be prayer, to have any power to change anything must first speak thanks…prayer without ceasing is only possible in a life of continual thanks” (1,000 Gifts, Voskamp, 60). This actually creates a seismic shift in how we pray…I am learning this.

CONNECT — this surrendered, Word of GOD filled, prayer life always ends in connecting with what GOD loves, His mission. When we practice these things we always end up practicing loving, outreaching community because we can love the church and love the people of the world out of what we are learning in our times of surrender and solitude with the Spirit of GOD.

Four little cards. They call out to us — Yellow, Black, Blue, and Red — practice….

Though Pastors had preached, “I had never practiced. Practiced until it became second nature, the first skin. Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation. Practice, practice, practice…” (Voskamp, 54)

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 


People You Know

This is a shout-out to small groups, and as an example — my own. This past week our small group had a BBQ together on a windy evening; we love getting together! We look forward to it. This year our group members have been all over the country and out of the country but we always keep tabs on one another and get together as soon as we are on the same soil. It’s so good to gather.

I don’t even know how long this group has been together, but we know each other quite well by now. We are at that stage of honesty where we can challenge each other, cry with each other, pray consistently for one another, celebrate the wins, puzzle over the puzzles…its all that and more. We love to eat together, hang out with each other, and figure out this journey of faith together. I love my small group (and not just because Marcella slips me jars of jam).

My small group has done the miles with Mike and I. They have been right at the core of quite a tender journey. They have been burden bearers for us: always interested. There are times we have gone “on and on” about weighty things and our group has been immensely patient and understanding. I see how we all try to be this for one another. It is amazing to experience. Church.

Recently we had something pretty big to celebrate in the middle of our ongoing story — and their hearts just joined with ours and I was further buoyed up by the beauty of community. At the same time, someone else was experiencing hard things — it is almost always this way. So we all leaned in to listen and to ponder it and to pray and to hope. This group doesn’t give up.

I know there are other groups who could say the same. This is the goal with small groups, isn’t it? Life on life, knowing each other, the happenings, the uncertainties, the wrestling to figure out obedience to Christ, the long-suffering walk, the ready applause, the hug, the eye-to-eye call to live out one’s calling in a safe and “for you” kind of place.

As September comes closer — find out about Small Groups. Talk to Shawn Klassen, connect at the Connect Centre. Fill something out online (Whoa! Who are those fine looking people on the SG page?). Small groups run for 10 weeks and then if you feel like trying something different — a different group, a class — feel free! Become a part of the mix. Enter into group life: love people, and be loved back!

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 

Eh?

Just a little shout-out about summer plans for kids! Our Out of School Care Director, Walter, has planned some really great mini-lessons for summer for kids K+ so that even while we aren’t running our usual full program, there will be a little learning going on…but a lot more chill than usual. Parents, I hope you will take advantage of the good work Walter has done and continue the “good input” of GOD’s word in their lives over these next weeks.

Every week Walter is looking at an animal GOD has made and seeing what we can learn about our GOD through that creature! If everything about GOD can be known by what we see with our own eyes, nature has obviously got a lot to tell us!

Check out this coming Sunday’s creature in the photo! Know what that is? Well, you’re going to have to come to find out (bet it isn’t what you think it is). The theme will be on the topic of “hope” along with the verse: “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.” Psalm 25:3 — sounds interesting to me!

See you Sunday!

As to the preschoolers, we are hoping to “man” that room to provide a break for parents…but this will be dependant on volunteers coming forward to assist. So if you are in to help, please email info@sunridge.org or link to our volunteer page for Children’s Ministry and let us know.

It’s going to be a great summer in SunLand!

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 


How Did You Get There?

Sometimes things stop me in my tracks and speak to me. On Sunday, this happened. It was post-Gathering when only 6 or so were left hanging around; I was mid-sentence in a conversation when I looked up and saw this:

vine medium.JPG

Look closely and you will see a vine drilling its way between wall and roof, straight out from the poster that says “Live Mission.”

At first I laughed and said what I have said many times over the past 22 years: “Only at SunRidge.” Only at SunRidge through these barn walls, into this simple meeting place, among this hodge-podge collective would this happen. Just another oddball thing to keep us laughing. How silly is this? How did it get there….?

But then I had that familiar feeling of the Spirit telling me to look closer and deeper and there it was. This is the way of the Vine, the stubborn vine that won’t be stopped when money is short, when staffing is thin, when prayer is wobbly, when community is complicated, when culture is messy, when the future is foggy. This is the character of Jesus the Vine, the true and tenacious Vine going wherever He wants, however He wants no matter the terrain, the climate or the circumstances.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Won’t He go where it doesn’t make sense for the sake of His Mission? Won’t He show up miraculously during impossible times? Aren’t we invited, called actually, to go along for the ride where literally no wall can stop Him? Won’t we hold onto Him even then, growing in obedience, seeing Him everyday as unlimited?

So Praise GOD today, people of SunRidge, for the beautiful ways of Jesus. And take a look at the vine in this picture (not sure if the facility team will be quite so keen to maintain its existence indoors). It represents the idealism of GOD and His absolute commitment to get where He wants to go with His people: NO MATTER WHAT. The wonders of GOD never cease and in our time we will see this if we have eyes to see.

Unstoppable God, Let your glory go on and on

Impossible things, In Your name they shall be done

Nothing shall be impossible
Your kingdom reigns Unstoppable

We'll shout Your praise forevermore
Jesus our God unstoppable

  • Unstoppable GOD, Elevation Worship

Thanks Father for this little reminder…we got the message.

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 







Hanging Around at Green Bay

This past weekend 80+ SunRidgers got to hang out at Green Bay Bible Camp for the weekend for another round of Family Camp! We have been doing this for a lot of years and it only gets better. This year the weather was in full cooperation: the sun was shining, it was hot, the skies were clear, the lake was warm. A perfect Okanagan weekend.

Friday night people arrived, unpacked and roamed about until kids fireside at 7:45. Fireside for kids involves some crazy campfire songs and then a great lesson, this year led by Walter B. who spoke about Gideon and how GOD gave him courage in the face of fearful circumstances. The kids all played field games after this, led by some of our Students! Mike K. picked up on the theme of “do not fear”at the adult fireside, something Jesus spoke of and something the Bible refers to over and over again. After this, we played a community-building game in the Dining Hall until 11 pm — had some great snacks too! Thanks to everyone who pitched in!

In the morning, a great Green Bay breakfast and adult small groups and then the Pickle-ball tournament began in the gym. This is an annual competition that only gets more competitive as the years go by! Thanks to Carla, Kyle, Cole and Monique for all teaming up to make this such a success again. In the end, knocking out all the competition — Tracy & Tiana K. won and accepted the pickle trophies in an emotional awards ceremony.

There was lots of beach time with all the water toys open for play — lots of people in the lake, on the beach, running around the camp all afternoon in the sun! There was a sand-castle building contest at the beach as well with much creativity on display!

For adult fireside on Saturday, Gary Swabey continued the theme of “Do Not Fear” with an emphasis on the “Shalom” peace of GOD followed by another community-wide game and snacks in the Dining Hall.

To end off the weekend, our Sunday gathering was held at Green Bay followed by a hot dog BBQ outside around the picnic tables where people could linger and visit and enjoy the beauty of where we live.

That’s the rundown of what happened, but there was so much more — all kinds of conversations, lots of play between adults and kids, hilarious spontaneous thing that only make sense if you were there (like the second “wedding” we held for Andrew & Liv at 11 at night in an RV complete with a loud sing-along to Celine Dion…like I said, had to be there). There was more random fun than can be recorded here. Family Camp is a very bonding, family building, warm time and something we look forward to every year.

The Green Bay Camp staff hosted us so well…we have so loved being able to enjoy the lake, the toys, the space, the food, the gym, the accommodation. There is something for everyone there and for every kind of weather (we have occasionally been rained out and the gym has been rather handy on those years). Thanks Green Bay!

A big shout-out to Mikaela K. who was busy all weekend managing the schedule and the myriad of questions that came her way…hope you had a long nap after it was all said and done. And thanks to everyone who played a part, big and small, to serving this church family on Family Camp Weekend.

If you weren’t able to come, reserve the weekend in June — it usually happens Father’s Day weekend and we will let you know as soon as something is booked! Be a part of this family gathering — it’s such a highlight!

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 

What Happens at Family Camp

What happens at Family Camp doesn’t stay at Family Camp and that is the great thing. Over the years we have had more and more fun, more and more community, and more and more reasons to do it all over again because it pulls us together and gives us stories to remember; and isn’t that what makes life rich?

So much happens in a few days that is unique to a weekend like this and so we make a big point of calling SunRidgers to SIGN UP (early would be nice)! Every person who adds themselves in and engages with others, creates another dimension to what the weekend ends up being. Each person — single, married, young, old — is the family at family camp.

What laughs will happen?

What games will get played?

What conversations will be new to us?

The kids run wild, the adults find their playful side, and in the middle of it all, Jesus does some beautiful and meaningful things (He does love a good party).

So come and kick off your shoes and be campy with us and be part of the “remember when” stories that will come out of it all.

Camp will be at Green Bay Bible Camp on June 14-16; Details can be found at this link: Family Camp

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 

Isn't That Great?

Isn’t that great?

This past Sunday was so encouraging as the Student Team led the morning. They were involved at every level, from entertaining to explaining, to challenging, to testifying, to singing, to preaching to calling us to love the way Jesus loves.

Isn’t that great?

We have so many student leaders with gigantic hearts that selflessly give of their time, treasure, talent to be in the lives of these students with such passion and integrity. They see what is “going on here” and they feel compelled to do their part to stand guard for these students.

Isn’t that great?

We as a church family get behind this ministry by creating space for them, by helping where we can, by giving money, by supplying resources, by applauding and encouraging.

What isn’t that great”

When the lights go out in the auditorium after a morning of joy, it’s what isn’t great that we must remember and this is where we as a church family get to be great in a crucial way.

We know the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy the younger generation so we must pray. We must pray in the morning, we must pray in the noon-time, we must pray in the evening because these students aren’t tucked away safely in the corner of the week. We must be so acutely aware of what they are facing that isn’t great…

  • What isn’t great is we have students who feel their identity slipping away from them because the world is deliberately confusing. The enemy nudges this along so that they literally do not know who they are and what their purpose is. Instead of hearing the kind and affirming voice of the Father, they think they are a neutralized pronoun without GOD-given shape or form or purpose or uniqueness. Oh how we must pray!

  • What isn’t great is we have students who hurt themselves because they are hurting during the week and this self-inflicted pain seems better then that pain they have no choice over. Oh how we must pray!

  • What isn’t great is we have students seeing things they counted on, erode before their very eyes so that they don’t feel a firm foundation under their feet. Oh how we must pray!

  • What isn’t great is we have students who fear, who doubt, who crave, who cave, who watch, who want. Oh how we must pray!

There are so many things that aren’t great that we better be great at prayer; there is so much at stake! Don’t let the lightness fool you, many of these students are navigating things that aren’t great. Let us not fail them as a family. Let’s adult; let’s pray and not just when we are prompted.

Pray with hope and expectation. GOD will advertise His goodness through their lives and we will live to see it and

Isn’t that the greatest?

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen