Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Have you heard of the BCOQ?

Sorry for the long delay in writing. I hope it doesn't become a pattern.

So, who can tell me what BCOQ stands for? . . . waiting . . . waiting. Okay, if you are from our pre-Emo days most likely you won't know. Those here will know, because it has to do with our church. BCOQ stands for Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec. I am currently blogging from Jackson's Point Retreat Center near Toronto where I am attending a New Pastor's Orientation for the BCOQ. I left on Sunday, and as one person said "so you are going to go become a Baptist now, eh?" Well, since we became members a few months back already, and had my Induction/Commissioning service a few weeks ago already, I guess I am already "technically" a Baptist, but there is lots to learn.

Surprisingly, I am enjoying learning about BCOQ life, history, and meeting the leaders of the Convention (it is NOT a denomination - I have been informed that Baptists are very, very proud of the fact that each church is autonomous!). I have had to homework for this event, and in the process I learned that the BCOQ formed in 1888, that McMaster Divinity School (our Baptist Seminary) is named after William McMaster who was a wealthy Toronto entrepreneur in the later part of the 18th century and a Canadian Senator, that every Sunday people in BCOQ worship in over 20 languages, that the statement of faith borrows heavily from the Mennonite Brethren Church and that the largest church in our denomination is Chinese. The 29 of us who are here this week are from all walks of life, and God has been glorifying himself in many ways as we have learned and talked together.

As a pastor, there are times when I can think that I have heavy burdens to carry. God used two conversations I have had in the last week to remind me how good I have it, even as I have to prepare sermons, meet people, do homework, and take care of the family. First, I was talking with a friend and he shared how his business is at its worst point in 8 years. It is a large operation, with employees to be cared for (who he had to lay off) and bills to pay (which he can't, because he can't move any product currently). We prayed for him, and I realize that my (in my mind anyways) big struggles aren't nearly providing me with the pressure that he has to deal with.

The second conversation happened yesterday with a fellow minister here. He is from Haiti, and had to leave the country a few years ago because he was almost killed. Travelling home one day on his motorbike, three guys pulled a rope over the road and knocked him off his bike. They got him down on the ground, hands behind his back, and put a gun to his head saying they would kill him. They asked if he had money, and took that, his briefcase, motorbike, etc. They were going to kill him but "just then" someone walked by and, though he was by himself, made it sound like he had a big group with him by shouting "Here he is, over there." The attackers got scared, took all the stuff, but let him live.

This man has a wife and six kids, and he knows God spared his life. He said "I have a new life verse now, it is Psalm 102:18-20" As he read those verses, I was reminded of how good and gracious God has been to me, and how much I have to be thankful for.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord;
that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die.
My new friend was doomed to die physically, yet God intervened. All of us were once doomed to die spiritually and eternally, until God, in his mercy and grace, saved us from sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross. If you have experienced that miracle of salvation, may you, as I seek to do, record it, tell it, and shout it out to the next generation that the Lord has saved us.

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