My Vision for the Church

A few weeks ago, shortly after arriving at the church as pastor, I shared my vision for the church at the service officially welcoming us to Bethany. Since then, some have mentioned that brief statement and asked if it could be provided again. And others who missed it then may find it helpful now. So, here again is my vision for the church. I based my comments on the following Scripture:

2 Corinthians 3: 2-4 “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

“As a pastor, those words are meaningful to me — the church is in a sense the means by which the message of Christ is communicated to the world, the “letter” which those who minister have some part in writing by teaching and shaping the body of Christ.  Here then is my vision for the kind of church we should be, a church made up of:

Holy People
* That means, in the big picture, people committed to godly living individually. My vision for you is that you would be Christians whose faith would shape every decision, whose greatest desire is to glorify Jesus Christ, and whose lives can honestly be said to be testimonies of godliness.
* My hope for you is that you would be holy in all your conduct, that you would fight to be holy, to refuse worldly and ungodly entertainment that deadens your soul, that you would think with a godly mind about what you allow on your TV, your radio, your computer, your bookshelf, and in your mind; and that you would be not just barely Christian, but passionate followers of Jesus.

Learning People
* That means, essentially, people committed to growing in Christ.  My vision for you is that you would want to learn more about God, learn more about living as a Christian, and desire to learn how to apply the truth of God to your everyday life.  My hope for you is that you would engage your mind to be always growing.
* To be growing and learning means choosing what you fill your mind with and how you use your time.  Read your Bible for yourself, regularly.  Listen to good Christian music – so much is available to us today.  Do not seek simply to be entertained, but to seek out and listen to that which is meaningful, theologically rich, and beautiful.  Read good Christian books – some we have on the bookshelves in the library here, and I would love to recommend more.  Using discernment, take advantage of the many resources available in print and online media to help you grow.  My hope is that there would be an appetite to read, to listen, and to learn and stretch your mind in the pursuit of God.

Godly Families
* I have been in ministry for more than 20 years now. My greatest disappointment has been seeing families devastated because they would not build their marriages and their home God’s way. My heart has been heavy when parents did not respond to instruction, but became offended when instruction and correction was given about the home. My vision for you, parents, is that you would not be satisfied with “good” kids, but strive to raise godly kids. My hope for you is that you would not give up because it is too demanding, that you would not be too permissive, or too harsh, and so drive your children away from Jesus Christ. We cannot guarantee the next generation’s commitment to Jesus, but we can do all in our power to be obedient to what God’s word says about the home, to build godly marriages and provide examples to our children and young people of genuine Christian living.
* My vision is that each of our homes would be places where Christ is honoured in both words and actions, where family devotions are a regular part of life in the home, where the Bible is taught and practiced by Mom and Dad and important to our children, where Christian music, Christian books, and Christian media shape the hearts and minds of our children, where obedience is expected and disobedience is corrected immediately, and where parents let their children know that church is important to the whole family.
* My vision for all – for those who are unmarried, those from broken homes, those who are widowed, those with unsaved families, those whose children are grown – is that in all our relationships we would learn to practice kindness, forgiveness, mercy, and grace, letting no bitterness take root in our hearts, and seeking in our homes to create an atmosphere of godliness and peace.

People Committed to the Great Commission
* I want to pastor a church that is not merely a preaching station, but a place of service; a church that looks to the future, a church that looks outward, seeing the needs of the world, and does something about it. I want my church to be a church that prays for missionaries, and goes to serve alongside them. I want to pastor a church where people actively worship together, minister to one another, practice hospitality by inviting people into their homes because they love fellowship with other believers, and think often about how to reach lost people God brings into their lives.

My hope, and my prayer, is that that would be this church.”

He Is Risen!

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ — he went to the cross for our sins, but he is alive today to give us new life. I hope you make time to worship the risen Christ with God’s people this Easter!

Good Friday (April 14) – Combined worship service at Fundamental Baptist Church (1170 Sand Cove Road, Saint John) at 11:00 am. The service will be followed by lunch in the fellowship hall. Come enjoy good music and preaching centered on the cross, and good fellowship with other believers!

Easter Sunday (April 16) – Breakfast at the church at 8:30 am, then Sunday School and adult classes at 9:30 am, with a worship service at 11:00 celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.

Thank You


We are glad the Lord has led us to Bethany, and look forward to serving together with all of you who make up the body of Christ in this place.  Thanks to all those who gave their time to help us move and unpack, to those who have provided for us while we get settled in, and to all those who faithfully serve in the church and bring joy to a pastor’s heart.  And thank you for the welcome service today — the music, the fellowship, the prayer and ministry in the word from other pastors who came, but especially the warm words of welcome expressed by the deacons on behalf of the congregation.  It means a lot to us.  May the Lord bless you as we serve Him together in the days ahead.

~ Pastor Philip, Sydonyia, and family

Jamaica Journey Review

It has been a week now since our team left Jamaica (yes we did make it back safely a day later than expected) and as I reflect on our time there the only appropriate response is praise. Praise God for blessing exceedingly abundantly above all that we asked or thought. Praise God for gospel advance in Jamaica allowing us to reap where others have faithfully planted and watered. Praise God for Christian brothers and sisters whom we were able to meet and fellowship with. It is such an incredible joy to be part of the family of God. Praise God for pastors whom we met who are steadfastly holding forth the Word of Life. Praise God for Bible college students who have hearts to serve God with their lives. Praise God for spiritual growth in each of the team members hearts and lives. Praise God for safety in travel and health and strength while in Jamaica. Praise God for His incredible creation we experienced in the the rich diversity of fruits we enjoyed, the beauty of flowers arrayed fairer than Solomon in all his glory, unique animals, dazzling waterfalls, lush foliage and beautiful, strengthening sunshine. Praise God for the joy there is in serving Him. Praise God for answered prayer!

I’m sure the full impact of this missions trip has not yet been realized but as I reflect on what God has already accomplished through it I am filled with wonder at God’s incredible grace to use us for His glory. Thank you for your prayers, for your giving and for your interest in God’s work through us. May we continue to serve Him faithfully where He has placed us till Jesus comes.

Pastor Joel

Jamaica Journey Day 9

Today was a day filled with mixed emotion. We were first of all sad to leave the people and country that we have come to love over our week here. There were plenty of hugs exchanged and promises to see each other again soon. After a brief stop in Montego Bay to pick up last minute souvenirs and lunch we headed to the airport. There our emotions changed to the joy of being on our way home to see all the ones we love and missed this week. We had warning of a possible storm in Toronto but we were thankful that our flight out of Montego Bay was only delayed by 20 minutes and we made it safely in at 7:15 pm local time. That was the end of our flights for the day however as everything was cancelled. After making it through the maze of the airport and the large crowds we were able to confirm that we were rebooked for the same flight a night later and by God’s good hand we found the last 3 rooms at an airport hotel. The shuttle was delayed because of the weather and while most stayed inside because of the cold and snow (and the fact that some were still in shorts) Caleb, Tiffany and Christian bravely stood watch till the shuttle finally arrived.  After checking in at the hotel we were able to get pizza at 11:15 pm for supper and all crashed into bed exhausted. These certainly weren’t our plans but we know God’s ways are best and we are trusting that our extra day in Toronto has a good purpose. We are looking forward to seeing you all soon,

Pastor Joel

Jamaica Journey Day 8

Today was a day of hard work to get as much done on the construction project as we could, knowing that we leave for home tomorrow. The men worked all day cutting rebar, making and pouring concrete, creating forms and putting in the last two footings. The end of the day brought a large rainstorm that we worked through in order to get the last footing done. There is still plenty of work to do to complete the building which the Jamaican men will do when we leave but we were able to accomplish much for the glory of God. We trust that this upgraded building will aid Fairview Baptist Bible College continue to hold forth the faithful word and train men and women for life long service to Jesus Christ.

The women cleaned and got everything ready for our departure tomorrow. Then some of them had the opportunity to get their hair done in Jamaican braids by the librarian here. After supper we were taken to a local wood carver to pick up a few souvenirs and then we ended the day with a team meeting to share the blessings we all experienced from the trip along with the lessons we learned. We all have much to praise God for and are looking forward to seeing you all soon to tell you about it personally. Please pray for our return trip as the weather is calling for snow in Toronto! Thank you for all the prayers and following along. Good night from Jamaica for the final time,

Pastor Joel

Jamaica Journey Day 7

Our cup runs over with the joy of serving the Lord! We had an incredible day worshipping at Black River Independent Baptist Church which is lead by our gracious host Pastor Black. It took about an hour to get here from the college and while we were concerned about possibly being late for a 9:30 start we shouldn’t have worried: they take laid back to a level even beyond Lepreau! Our Sunday School teacher had to wait for a taxi and didn’t arrive till after 10 but we enjoyed his lesson from the book of Job. Tara and Tiffany were able to sit in on a class with some of the kids and enjoyed meeting new children that quickly became friends. The morning service followed with the opportunity for the team to sing a special number and for us to join in on Jamaican worship. While livelier than we are used to we appreciated their joy in the Lord and were able to join in on the songs that we did know. Then I was able to preach and I was thankful to God that He answered prayer and I had a voice to do so. God was at work and 2 men and a girl came forward at the end of the service with one of the men trusting Christ. God is so amazing as the man Wayne, who lives in the UK, was here visiting relatives. So God brought a preacher from Canada and a man from England to Jamaica where the gospel was presented and received. What a joy this was for all of us. While this was all going on, Claire (aka mom), led the children’s church with the other ladies helping out. Needless to say our day of worship was rich and blessed. We were able to meet many warm and inviting brothers and sisters in Christ who we look forward to seeing again soon but if not in glory.

After the service we headed back to the college with a stop along the way to Bluefields beach to have a quick swim in the Caribbean Sea for a much needed cool off. Supper at the college was another great meal provided by the tireless ladies in the kitchen. Then we had an evening service together at the college with a time of singing and testimony as a group. There were plenty of blessings to share and we are rejoicing in all that God has done. It is hard to believe that tomorrow will be our final full day here before flying out Tuesday. We have appreciated your prayers and are looking forward to seeing everyone soon. Good night from Jamaica,

Pastor Joel