Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. The surgery went well but the doctors recommended sixteen weeks of preventative chemo. Through the test, diagnosis, surgery and treatments, I asked my Heavenly Father three questions: What is Your purpose in this trial? What do You want me to learn? How can I glorify You in this?
James tells us that we are to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (1:2-4) God allows the testing of our faith which produces endurance. When we let endurance have its perfect result, much more than we could ask or imagine happens—we “lack nothing.”
Through this trial God has shown me that what I was lacking was patience. So, God is teaching me to be patient. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, the quality of bearing difficulties with a tranquil mind (Romans 5:3-4), and patience leads to hope (Romans 15:4). Patience has a companion, humility. I am learning that I must also be humble just as our Saviour was humble (Philippians 2:8). Humility is the conviction that I am unworthy of the mercy and grace of God and not capable of anything apart from Him and His blessings!
As I learn patience and humility there are three tremendous benefits that God is blessing me with.
Thankfulness: God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Therefore I am learning to practice thankfulness in all things (Ephesians 5:20) even in this trial. My Father has blessed me far and beyond what I could ever hope for. Through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit He provides remarkable courage. Thankfulness has helped change my attitude about my circumstances, myself and God. The benefits of being thankful include refocusing my attention from the trial to God, a release of worry (Philippians 4:6-8) and a refreshing of my relationship with Him. I hope that as you read this you will understand the peace and energy that I have seen through a grateful relationship with God—a relationship that is enlarging my vision of Him, exalts His name and magnifies His presence.
Increased Faith: Faith is all about trust, trusting God’s purposes. Starting to understand God’s purposes strengthens and enables us to be more committed to His plan rather than our own. After all, I want to be part of His plan and on His agenda, not my own. This faith unites us, as do your prayers and cards of encouragement.
A Joyful Heart: The joy of the Lord is not based on circumstances but based on who we are in Christ. I can rejoice no matter what. Paul describes this in Ephesians 3:19 as being filled up to the fullness of Christ. When in the midst of trials there is no greater time to comprehend the complete surrender of our lives to Christ. God has a plan and purpose in each of our trials and many times we try to solve the problems on our own or run from the Lord but as James writes, “Consider it all joy…”
My heart is filled with joy as I think of how you have prayed, supported and worked with us to establish people in God’s Word across Canada over these 20-30 years, we have been truly blessed. Much has been accomplished for the Kingdom and as we look at the new initiatives for 2013 and beyond, God is making disciples.
Jane and I know that our season as National Directors will come to an end. We and many of our ministry partners prayerfully sought the Lord to find a passionate leader who God would use to guide Precept forward and God sent us Mark Sheldrake. Over the past few years we have been working diligently to mentor and train Mark in everything ‘Precept.’
Mark joined the ministry after pastoring in the local church for many years. He joined our staff with no prior knowledge of Precept Ministries. Over the years we have trained him in the Inductive Study Method, as a workshop trainer and a small group leader. As the Director of Operations he has taken on many of the day-to-day responsibilities of the ministry and will be spearheading the new initiatives in 2013.
When I look to the future of Precept, my heart is filled with joy. In 2013 we will launch the Precept Network; which really is the future of Precept Ministries. The Precept Network is designed to support every Bible study leader irrespective of geographical inconveniences. We will have leaders all across the country committed to supporting leaders wherever they are. We have desired something like this for years, but the potential of the Precept Network is far beyond what we could have imagined.
I am also overjoyed that the Precept Online Community (POC)will be launching in late November. Now in the testing phase, Bible Study Leaders globally are able to come together on a networking site to share ideas, resources and so much more. Within the POC our Canadian Bible Study Leaders’ group is designed to connect leaders across this country for support. With the click of a mouse a leader can correspond with trainers, staff and leaders, update classes to let others know what they are studying and how their class is going.
We are praying that God will raise up 20 new trainers to offer local training workshops. This would erase the need for minimum numbers at workshops. With more trainers, more people will be established in God’s Word.
Jane and I are believing God for more in 2013 and beyond, as we submit ourselves to His plan for us and the ministry. We are filled with joy that God will do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think. Thank you for your partnership in this work. God bless you, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.