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Season of Prayer: Week 3

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It was a joy to have Daniel Whitehead (Executive Director of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries) with us at First this past Sunday. His reflections on the first half of Psalm 139, particularly as it relates to God's knowledge of us--God knowing us intimately, reminded me of the following two excerpts from Jim Packer's "Knowing God": 

What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it--the fact that he knows me. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters. 

 This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort--the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates--in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me. 

There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and am I glad!), and that he sees more corrupt in me than the which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, he wants me as his friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given his Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose. We cannot work these out here, but merely to mention them Is enough to show how much it means to know not merely that we know God, but that he knows us. [1]  

"This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father...'" (Mt 6:9). As Jesus always prayed to his God as Father (Abba in Aramaic an intimate family word), so must his followers do, Jesus could say to his Father, "You always hear me" (Jn 11:42), and he wants his disciples to know that, as God's adopted children, the same is true of them. The Father is always accessible to his children and is never too preoccupied to listen to what they have to say. This is the basis of Christian prayer." [2] 

Indeed, the Father, Abba, intimately knowing us is the basis of all of our prayers. In prayer, we come to a greater awareness of whose we are. And so, for this week, as we pray, may we marvel at who He is and in doing so come to know much more deeply whose we are. In between our petitions, let us take time to adore. To gaze with wonder. To stand in awe. To fall in worship. As Richard L. Pratt, Jr asks in his book on prayer, "When was the last time you were fascinated with God?" [3]

Throughout the week, we hope that this attached appendix will be helpful to you. It contains a number of the names, titles, and metaphors for God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the Bible. [4] Whether it be at the very start of your day or as you are praying with others in your Connection Group, please do take time to pray with the list at hand. 

IN Him, 
Justin Kim 

_______________

[1] Jim Packer, Knowing God, pp. 45-46
[2] Ibid, pp. 238-239
[3] Richard L. Pratt, Jr, Pray With Your Eyes Open, pg. 27
[4] Ibid, pp. 183-190

Posted by Justin Kim

Season of Prayer: Week 2

As some of you aware, I have been wrestling with the book of Ephesians (or perhaps a better way to put it is to be wrestled into submission) for the last five and a half years. Whether it be as I am rushing to visit you in the hospital or seating quietly in my office, on countless occasions, the prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 has guided my intercession for you and our church family. 

Paul, who is imprisoned in Rome and awaiting trial before Nero Caesar, pens this prayer with the help of his friend, Tychicus. Holding the young Christians in Asia Minor close to his heart, he bursts into a prayer that is full of fervor, love, and hope. Darrell Johnson describes it as "the prayer that blows the circuit boards". [1] In terms of its technical structure, it is one long, long sentence in the original Greek. Phrase after phrase, it gathers "rhetorical momentum" until the words crescendo into one of the boldest prayers in Scripture. 

I am always taken by the movement from intercession (verses 14-19) to doxology (verses 20-21)--how Paul is moved from his prayer for others to the praise of God. Ultimately, the "efficacy" of prayer goes far beyond just the answers themselves. It inexorably leads us to God Himself. Our Triune God who is "able to do far more, abundantly, beyond" all that we ask or think! [2] 

In describing who are praying to, John Stott puts it this way: [3] 

God's ability to answer prayer is forcefully stated by the apostle in a composite expression of seven stages.  

  1. He is able to do or work (poiēsai), for he is neither idle, nor inactive, nor dead. 

  2. He is able to do what we ask, for he hears and answers prayers. 

  3. He is able to do what we ask or think, for he reads our thoughts, and sometimes we imagine things for which we dare not and therefore do not ask. 

  4. He is able to do all that we ask or think, for he knows it all and can perform it all. 

  5. He is able to do more...than (hyper, 'beyond') all that we ask or think, for his expectations are higher than ours. 

  6. He is able to do much more, or more abundantly (perissōs), than all that we ask or think, for he does not give his grace by calculated grace. 

  7. He is able to do very much more, far more abundantly, than all that we ask or think, for he is a God of super-abundance. 

As we enter into our second week of prayer, we encourage to be in prayer for the following outward-oriented ministry of our church family. 

  • Missionaries: Barbara Forster (SIM at Vancouver), Greg and Julie Slade (Frontiers at Ontario), Kaori Chua (OMF at Japan), Christina Winrich (OMF at Japan), John and Jooling Cuddeford (ISMC at UBC), Caitlin and Mathew Windsor (Wycliffe @ Kingfisher Lake), Tom and Grace Mei (Asia), David and Suzannah Nacho (Costa Rica), and Bill and Janice Dyck (Bolivia). 

  • Onion Lake TeamBob Swann, our Minister of Mission, is forming a team to serve our First Nations friends at Onion Lake this coming summer. 

  • Refugee Sponsorship: Bob Swann and a number of lay leaders are in the process of filling out all of the necessary paperwork to sponsor a family. More details will follow next week via First News as a feature article. 

  • Kickers Soccer Camps: A significant number of those who take part in our camps are not part of our church family. Our camps are a wonderful way to embody the love and invitation of Jesus Christ. 

  • Hong Kong Bible Conference 2019: Our former Senior Minister, now a fellow lay member, Darrell Johnson will be preaching from a Baptist church in Kowloon City for nine days in early August. Last year, the conference reached around 249,000 people. This year, they are praying for 300,000! Please pray for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit as Darrell seeks to faithfully preach on Jesus' parables in Luke.

  • Vocations and Neighbourhoods: Whether it be paid or volunteer, home or office, blue collar or white collar, all of us are called to be missionaries. Please pray that we may join in on what God is doing in our respective vocational settings and our neighbourhoods. 

  • Local Organizations: Kinbrace, First StepsPromise Vancouver, Keats Camp (80% of the campers are from non-church background).  

As you might have heard from Andrea Tisher (Minister of Worship) on Sunday morning, in two weeks, on June 23rd, she will be candidating for the role of Lead Pastor at Southwest Community Church in Kamloops. As she has requested, would you pray for her, her family, and our sister church in Kamloops? Should it be the case that the Lord is leading Andrea, Gordon, Emily, and Brendan to Kamloops, we--as a church family--need to celebrate that our sister church will be blessed by one of our own. 

Integral to who we are a church family, we at First have always sought to birth and bless sister communities. Some of the communities that were birthed from us include Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Jackson Avenue Baptist Church (now Ward Memorial Baptist Church), Fairview Baptist Church, South Hill Baptist Church, Broadway West Baptist Church, West Point Grey Baptist Church, Ruth Morton Memorial Baptist Church (now Mountainview Christian Fellowship), and Kitsilano Christian Community Church. And so, while we might be naturally saddened by this potential transition, we must rejoice in knowing that Southwest Community Church and Kamloops as a whole will be blessed by the Tishers

Trusting in Him who is "able to do far more, abundantly, beyond" all that we ask or think, 
Justin Kim


[1] Darrell Johnson's Experiencing the Trinity
[2] Ibid
[3] John R. W. Stott's The Message of Ephesians, pg. 139-140

Posted by Justin Kim

Season of Prayer: Week 1

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I don't know about you, but I'm still soaking in the choral rendition of Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive's "Is He Worthy" from this past Sunday! What a way to unpack the Gospel, especially that second refrain. He is! He is! 

Also, wasn't it a gift to have our brother, Dr. Paul Stevens, launch our sermon series on prayer? An excerpt from Timothy Chester's The Message of Prayer (from the Bible Speaks Today series) came to mind as I was reflecting on our brother's exposition of Matthew 6:9-13. As it has with me, may it further lead you into prayer--communion with our living God.  

It was for this we were made: to know God; to be with Him; to enjoy friendship with Him; to share the life of the trinitarian community. 'In obedience the Christian is the servant, in faith he is the child, but in prayer, as the servant and the child, he is the friend of God, called to the side of God and at the side of God, living and ruling and reigning with Him.' 'God does not want us as objects, but as covenant partners, partners who can converse. He desires our conversation input, our spontaneous gratitude, our free concurrence, but also our patient or impatient questioning; and even our vehement protest is dearer to Him than a silent, unconvinced acquiescence.' 

To say that we should seek friendship with the One who created the far reaches of the universe, who is the ruler of all history and who dwells in unapproachable light, sounds like outrageous hubris. Yet this is the gospel. Prayer is an expression of the very heart of God's eternal plan to have a people who are His people; to know us and to be known by us. We readily bask in the reflected glory of knowing someone even moderately important or famous--how much more can we glory in friendship with the trinitarian God! 

Prayer means conversation with God, calling upon God... The person who has grown up with the traditions of the Church takes this for granted. He is not conscious of the astonishing character, the boldness and "irrationality" of this act. 

For this week, we encourage to be in prayer for our church family, particularly for those who need healing, guidance, and encouragement. As I shared at our church business meeting last week, please do keep Monica Gartner (loss of her mother, Agatha), Klara Van Der Molen (her 5-year-old grandson, Caleb, was hit by a car), and Margaret Loden (hospitalized after a fall) in your prayers. From today to Pentecost Sunday (June 9th), we encourage you to consult our weekly prayer sheet to pray for others. Click here to download the prayer sheet. 

Please be sure to pray for the Brown family as Anthony prepares to transition into First as our Senior Minister.  As of May 8th, he has transitioned out of Hillside Baptist Church. He is now finishing his work with the North Shore School of Mission. Anthony and Helen have set aside the last two weeks of June to rest. He is set to start at First in July. 

In prayer with and for you, 
Justin Kim
Executive Minister

Posted by Justin Kim

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