Tag Archives: Leadership Conference

Dr. Rob Reimer: Discerning God’s Voice– Two Diverse Approaches, Three Key Characteristics

By Dr. Rob Reimer, SBC president

The past few weeks have been filled with conversations regarding the SBC Leadership Conference. This article is a response addressing some of the concerns and support expressed regarding the conference. This article is not intended to exhaustively address the issue. Authors have written many books on the topic. This will not be a book, but a short overview.

There are few things that bring a bigger smile to my face than when people earnestly seek after God. It is one of the greatest joys that I have as President of Steinbach Bible College to see students grapple with faith issues. One of those faith issues that has recently garnered much attention is in the area of hearing from God.

Two Diverse Approaches

As I listen to people talk about this faith issue, I sometimes hear two diverse approaches. The first approach says that all I have to do is become quiet, listen for God’s voice for a few minutes and then whatever impressions I receive must be what God is telling me to do. The formula is simple: become quiet for a short time, and then God will give me an impression that is absolute.

The second approach says that God doesn’t speak to me personally, but only through the written Word. This formula says that for every decision I need to make, God will automatically give me a verse and somehow that verse will fit my situation. So, what happens is that I read a verse for my devotions and somehow try to manipulate that verse to fit my personal situation.

Both perspectives have components that I need to incorporate into my life as I hear from God, and both have cause for concern. To throw out either perspective would short-change the process while seeking to hear from God. I believe that a better alternative would be to incorporate both and seek a more balanced approach to hear from God.

 How Do We Hear From God?

I believe that there are many ways that God speaks to us today. We typically have our “go-to” methods. Subsequently, it can be easy to assume that the way God speaks to me is the only way or ways that God speaks to all of us today.

As I think of a list of ways God speaks to us, I realize that some of these methods I have experienced personally, while others I have not experienced at all. However, just because I have experienced them, or not experienced them, does not make them right or wrong, or the only way to hear God. The reality is that God speaks to his children in a variety of ways.

There are three characteristics that I personally have experienced as I have sought to hear God. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. This is simply sharing my experience.

Time Seeking God

The first characteristic deals with the amount of time I spend in seeking God (1 Cor. 2:9-16). There seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of time I wait on God, and how well I hear from God. When I only spend a few minutes or a short amount of time listening to God, I tend to “mishear” Him. Maybe it is just me, but that has been my experience.

However, when I dedicate myself to prayer and wait patiently on Him for direction and discernment, I tend to “get it right” more often than not.

Have you ever wondered why that seems to be the case? I think the answer lies in the fact that a big part of hearing from God is simply the process. God wants us to spend time in communion and fellowship with him. Our goal for hearing from God is more about the relationship that we have with him than simply getting an answer on what to do next.

God seeks a deep and vibrant relationship, not a vending machine approach to answered prayer. When we become silent for 10 minutes and expect to hear a word from God, we risk turning this relationship into a formula. That does not mean that spending 10 minutes in silence is a waste of time; far from it. However, I believe a better way is to focus on building our relationship with God over a lifetime.  Then we will be amazed at how God continually speaks to us.

The Body of Believers

A second characteristic involves the body of believers (Col. 3:16). My experience has been that I tend to hear God better when I do it in the context of other believers. That is not to say that God only speaks to me when I am with others. I do sense God’s leading when I am alone.

However, for the key decisions of life, I find that I hear God better when other believers are involved. I ask them to join me in prayer. I share how I feel God leading me and ask for their input as they join me in prayer. I invite them to pray with me over a period of days and weeks, not only for 10 minutes.

My home church is in the process of setting direction for the future. As a whole church we are committing to 10 weeks of prayer. We are encouraged to write down our thoughts over this 10-week period. Then we will look at these thoughts and see where the Holy Spirit is leading. I really believe this is a healthy way of listening to God. We are working at building our relationship with God and with each other as we join together in hearing from God (Matt. 22:34-40).

The Use of Scripture

A third characteristic involves the use of Scripture (Romans 10:17). My personal experience has been that when I immerse myself in Scripture, it has a profound impact on my hearing from God. To immerse requires more than reading a chapter and pulling out one verse that seems to stand out. It means reading large portions of Scripture in one sitting. It means reading passages repeatedly.

As a former pastor, one of the most profound challenges I gave to the congregation was to read through an Epistle or Gospel every week for a seven-week period. It was not uncommon for individuals to tell me that Scripture came alive for them, and that God spoke to them in powerful ways. Hearing from God involves reading Scripture, lots of Scripture.

So, how do we hear from God? I believe a biblical approach is to put less focus and emphasis on a formula, and more on relationships. Let’s commit to spending a significant amount of time developing our relationship with God. Let’s involve others who are godly and mature believers. Let’s immerse ourselves in Scripture. If this becomes our emphasis, I truly believe that we will be better “hearers” of God.

Rob-Reimer.jpg
Dr. Rob Reimer

I want to invite you to join me in further study and dialogue as we earnestly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in becoming more attuned to hearing from God.

Rob Reimer, MDiv, DMin, is the president of Steinbach Bible College.

Dr. Phillip Cary will help us to hear from God – Update: LC cancelled.

Will explore an earlier Christian era’s approach

by SBC

Phillip-Cary
Dr. Phillip Cary

STEINBACH, Man.—Dr. Phillip Cary will delve into the concept of Hearing from God during SBC’s 2018 Leadership Conference on March 16-17. He will explore an earlier era of Christianity’s look to Holy Scripture for the voice of God and will respond to a possibly harmful “new” approach in our anxiousness to hear God speak.

Cary is an award-winning Professor of Philosophy at Eastern University in St. David’s, near Philadelphia, PA. He also works as the Scholar-in-Residence at the Templeton Honors College where he specializes in the history of Christian thought, with particular focus on Augustine and Luther. A published author of numerous monographs and books, he is currently finishing a book tentatively titled How Luther Became Protestant—and Why It Matters (Brazos, 2018).

Dr. Cary is best known to the public for lecture series published by The Great Courses, including courses on Augustine, Luther, the History of Christian Theology, and Philosophy and Religion in the West.

“The Leadership Conference provides an opportunity to resource pastors and lay leaders with necessary tools that will add to their ministry,” says Dr. Rob Reimer, SBC’s president. “It also provides a valuable opportunity to network and connect with other church leaders for encouragement and support.”

Registration and information for the annual Leadership Conference is available online at SBCollege.ca/events or by calling 204-326-6451. Early bird registration ends March 2. All are welcome to attend! The EMMC, CMC, EMC, and the MB Church of Manitoba support the event officially.

 

 

Dr. Ed Neufeld: Will You Love as Paul Asked of the Philippians?

by Reilly Smith

Are you willing to give up everything for Christ as he gave up everything for you? Are you willing to love like Paul challenges the Church to love in Philippians? Are you praying for your congregation as Paul prays for the Philippians? Has the Church responded in unity to God’s sustaining graces with humble concern for one another?

These questions were some of the personal challenges that arose in the minds of those attending the annual Leadership Conference at Steinbach Bible College on March 17-18, 2017. People in five other locations joined by webinar, including from Alberta and Ontario and the countries of Belize and Mexico.

The speaker, Dr. Ed Neufeld, is a professor at Providence Theological Seminary and the pastor of Kleefeld Christian Community, both in southern Manitoba. Dr. Ed Neufeld spent four sessions dissecting separate portions within Paul’s letter to the Philippians, showing the importance of prayer, love, unity, and sacrifice. There were several primary themes from each session that stood out from this weekend.

Friday Night

In Friday night’s session Dr. Neufeld began with a study of Paul’s prayer in Phil. 1:9-11, seeing it as an apostolic prayer providing vision to the Church. The prominent point of this session was to pray for love to increase. Dr. Ed Neufeld made it quite clear that prayer is vitally important; and that praying for love to increase will cause many other areas of spiritual maturity to increase, including knowledge, discernment, sincerity, and blamelessness.

He made it clear that there is no tension between increasing your mind and increasing in love; rather, to make good kingdom choices, love is vital. Furthermore, the Greek word that is translated as pure (1:10) is a word about sincerity. Pure in this case is not about being sinless; it is about decisions resulting in right actions.

All this information was pulled out of Paul’s prayer, with the clear application being that it is important for leaders in the Church to be praying for their congregation. Dr. Neufeld pointed out that both disciplined and undisciplined people accomplish what needs to be done. It is not a question of more discipline being needed for prayer, but, rather, a realization of the utter helplessness of leadership without prayer.

Saturday Morning

Saturday morning began with a study of Phil. 1:12-27. In this session Dr. Neufeld addressed several different applications. First, in living or dying we are to do what is best for Christ. He plunged into Paul’s main questions in Phil. 1, starting in verse 18. Paul’s thought is shown to centre around three main questions: “What’s best for Christ?” “What’s best for Paul?” and “What’s best for the Church?”

Dr. Neufeld noted that God would be glorified if Paul didn’t despair or let go of his faith through the trials. Furthermore, what Paul needed in order for him to hold onto his faith was the Philippians’ praying and God’s grace. A question leveled at those in attendance was: “Lord, not my will but yours be done”—can you say it and mean it in a dark day?

Then Paul’s two loves were addressed. Dr. Neufeld showed that in Philippians Paul clarifies that the focus of his love is on Christ and on Christ’s people. Paul’s question in this passage focuses around these loves. Does Paul leave this earth to be with Christ or does he stay to aid the Church? The question to us is, who or what are we loving as opposed to whom we should be loving?

After this, Dr. Neufeld examined our call to be worthy citizens. Phil. 1:27 was shown to be a bridge between Paul’s example and what he wants us to do with it, with an encouragement to look at the examples of Paul, Timothy and those around us. Here he also noted that all around us, in our very own churches, there are people who are worthy citizens of the gospel.

One of the questions that arose during the second session’s Question and Answer time, was, in light of the above examples, can we live simple lives? The answer was that the Philippians were just ordinary people. Following Paul does not always mean living an extraordinary life.

In the third session Dr. Neufeld began by addressing how the Church is called to love each other. The New Testament has many commands to love each other as there are 96 imperatives regarding the way the Church treats each other. Love must be recognized as a central aspect of the gospel.

The discussion that arose from this conversation was extensive and the humble exploration of this matter was a great example of how pastors and other leaders in the Church should respond to controversial ideas. The emphasis on love set the stage for the following observations Dr. Neufeld would make.

Dr. Neufeld noted that in Phil. 2:1 God has given us sustaining graces to support us, and in 2:2 our response to these graces should be church unity. He continued to unravel the response, making it clear that humble concern for each other is also part of the response to God’s sustaining graces.

As noted by Dr. Neufeld, humble concern does not mean pastors should minster only to those who think they need help. Rather, he believed that pastors should serve humbly in the same way as Jesus and Paul did. They did not take their instructions from their people, but still showed an immense amount of caring.

Also in the third session Dr. Neufeld discussed how it is essential to be genuine. He showed that Paul regards Timothy as a great example of genuineness. Paul sent Timothy to the Philippians because he is the only one who genuinely cares for them.

In Phil. 2:19-24 it was noted that Christ’s interests and Timothy’s genuine care are interchangeable terms. Such truths cause us to ask ourselves: is our ministry done out of genuine concern and love for others?

Saturday Afternoon

In the fourth session Dr. Neufeld gave a strong comparison and challenge. It was noticeable in chapter two that Christ set aside everything for His people. However, in chapter three it was noted that Paul set aside everything for Christ. How much are we willing to sacrifice back to God for what was sacrificed for us? The correct answer is all.

Dr. Neufeld also clarified that for many people, in many countries, this question is not a hypothetical one. In some places, if a person gives their life to Christ, they really are giving up family, friends and a home merely as a result of that decision.

In a similar way, he noted that Paul lost all the prestige he once had in his circles among the Pharisees when he became a Christian. This loss wasn’t hypothetical for Paul either.

As can be seen, the Leadership Conference proved to be a great time of learning and of personal challenges in our service to Christ. Much fellowship and discussion occurred throughout the weekend with many people wrestling with the text.

Reilly-Smith
Reilly Smith

Most of all Philippians was shown to be a book of love. If there is one challenge to be made for the Church today from Philippians, it is to love each other. This is not a secondary calling of the Church, but one of the primary callings, a command heard throughout the Gospel.

Reilly Smith (Cornerstone, Crystal City, Man.) is a second-year student at SBC in the BA (pastoral minor) program. The article was produced for the Tri-Con Editors’ Group as part of his course work for Dr. Patrick Friesen.