At St. Paul's, every message focuses on Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. Christ Jesus, by His holy life and by His death on the cross, paid the penalty for the wrongs of all people and extends full pardon and eternal life free of charge to everyone who trusts in Him.

Check this page for monthly messages on topics of interest and also for weekly audio sermon downloads.


November 2021: A Transition+ Expand

The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah. (Kings 17:16)

Friends, brothers and sisters in Christ!

Now that Pastor Frey has retired and I've become your vacancy pastor, let's trust God together.

I know that you are discussing your congregation's future. Know that I will support you during this time, and I'm available as I mentioned in my greetings to the members. One thing that I want to reiterate here is that God is faithful to His promises and will provide for your needs according to his riches in Christ. God has always been this way; this is why I've pointed you to the message of the Project Elijah with the Widow of Zeraphath.

Do not be afraid to share with me your concerns, your sorrows, your fears, because I'm in this with you as well. You are not alone in your thoughts either. While we as individuals might not all agree on everything in the congregation, we sure have a lot more thoughts in common on what should happen than each one of us might realize. More importantly: Christ's work is specific - and purposeful - regardless of any shortcomings of our own. And meanwhile, remember, God will not forsake the people he has chosen, but will keep them for eternity. In the face of that, certainly he will provide for their temporal needs as well. I have seen this many times. Those who know me know that I'm a witness to this.

Let Jesus rule in your hearts and your minds to follow His wishes, in particular as we deliberate our future work in this grand, distinguished congregation. Your ancesters may have built the building, but Jesus built the congregation. He still sends his Spirit to those who hear his word and is always working. Therefore I say: "Peace to you, and do not be afraid."

Pastor (v) Joe Das

May 2021: Holy Communion+ Expand

I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" (Psalm 122:1)

Dear Fellow Redeemed,

In response to questions that have arisen surrounding the reception of the Lord’s Supper during the covid19 pandemic, I am sharing, as promised, the following thoughts.

1. Martin Luther wrote in his Large Catechism: “We must never think of the Sacrament as something harmful from which we had better flee, but as a pure, wholesome, comforting remedy that grants salvation and comfort. It will cure you and give you life both in soul and body. For where the soul has recovered the body also is relieved. Why, then, do we act as if the Sacrament were a poison, the eating of which would bring death?” While these words were not penned during a pandemic, I am sharing them with you at this time specifically because we have been dealing with covid19 for more than one year now. Some of you have absented yourselves from the reception of Holy Communion for the duration of that time out of concern that it may be unsafe to partake of Christ’s Holy Supper. To the contrary, neglecting our Lord’s gift to you is a matter of concern. Consider also these words of Luther from his Introduction to the Small Catechism: “If anyone does not seek or desire the Lord’s Supper at the very least four times a year, it is to be feared that he despises the Sacrament and is not Christian, just as no one is a Christian who does not believe or hear the Gospel. For Christ did not say, ‘Omit this’ or ‘Despise this,’ but ‘This do, as often as you drink it’.” Without question, there are greater things to fear than receiving Christ’s body and blood given under the bread and wine, and I’m not referring to the cup of Tim’s coffee that someone handed you from the takeout window or even the loaf of bread that was placed by human hands on the grocery store shelf and handled at the check out counter by the clerk. Satan is making the most of this pandemic, doing his best to strike fear into the hearts of God’s people. How he claps his hands with glee when he succeeds in keeping a child of God from receiving the spiritual food that our Lord provides for us. The end result is that some are living in fear of the devil and his temptations instead of fearing the Lord. Don’t let him gain any greater foothold. Recognize his lies for what they are. Trust instead n your God. See His Sacrament for what it is. It is a precious gift to be cherished, not a peril from which to hide. Celebrate His love for you and receive His life-giving food. Even if you are wary of attending a worship service in person, call me and make arrangements for a private of family communion at home, at church or outdoors. And please don’t hesitate to let me know what I can do to make you feel safe. If there is any special protocol that you would like me to follow, just let me know.

2. Some of you have also inquired about the possibility of including the celebration of the Lord's Supper in our virtual broadcast or offering it privately online. This would offer those who have chosen to absent themselves from the Sacrament out of fear of contracting covid19 a possibly appealing option. The reason however that we are not offering virtual Communion as an option is because we believe that the Scriptures indicate that the physical gathering together of God's people with an ordained servant of God, who has been called to administer the Sacrament, and the distribution of the physical, consecrated elements are all necessary for the Sacrament to be valid and in line with the institution of Christ in His Word. While I understand the desire of some of you to receive the comfort of the Sacrament virtually, it needs to be received in the manner in which it was instituted by our Lord, and not just in a way that is convenient. This is also the belief of both our synod and our sister synod, the LC-MS.

Once again, I am always ready and willing to bring the Lord’s Supper to the members of St. Paul’s whenever requested. Please call upon me any time. And remember this word of encouragement to you from our God Himself: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2020: Pastoral Letter+ Expand

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ((Hebrews 10:25 )

Dear Friends and Members of St. Paul’s,

It has been more than four months since in-person worship services at St. Paul’s have resumed, albeit with some precautionary protocols in place. Among other things, safe social distancing is being practiced with worshipers spreading themselves out throughout the sanctuary, masks are being worn, singing has been suspended, offering plates are not being passed and hymnals are being rotated in and out of use every three weeks.

Yet, I know that some members have chosen to absent themselves from worship until things return to normal. But, who knows when that will be or, for that matter, if things will ever return to the way they were. It is entirely possible that one year from now, we still will be in a similar place. Those who are waiting for things to get back to normal before returning to worship may one day discover that it has been years since they stepped foot into the house of the Lord who loves them.

I am writing this letter to assure those of you who are uncertain about attending worship services that it is safe to attend worship services at St. Paul’s. If you have been or if someone in your household has been shopping for groceries, attending worship services at St. Paul’s is without question safer still. If you go to work, visit a doctor, go to the bank, travel or go out for any other kind of errand, please know that attending a worship service is just as safe.

I invite you to worship your Lord with us this Sunday. I look forward to seeing you.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

April 2020: Covid-19 Response+ Expand

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

This is a very uncertain time for our world as we collectively seek to respond with wisdom to the COVID-19 pandemic. Naturally, the question of whether we should be gathering together for worship or other congregational activities has arisen. For this reason, following the March 23 directive from Premier Doug Ford, the elders of St. Paul's and I determined not to offer worship services in the building of St. Paul's in the near future. The building will remain closed for all activities until further notice. We, at St. Paul’s, are pro-life and therefore are concerned for your well-being. Life here and hereafter are precious in the Lord’s sight and therefore in our eyes too.

COVID-19 is to be taken seriously, but let us not fear needlessly. There is lots to fear in this world, and how Satan rejoices when our decisions and lives are motivated by fear. Instead, it is important that we seek strength, comfort and wisdom for daily living from God’s Word.

Of course, we can do this at home through the regular reading of His holy Word, which I encourage you all not to neglect. But, until such a time as regular worship services are resumed, online worship services will be offered. Beginning Sunday, March 29, these worship services may be viewed on YouTube. Just click here to go to our YouTube channel to view them. Once there, click on the video that you wish to view. The services will also be uploaded to our church website in an audio format as before. In addition, I hope to send out some sort of communication each Saturday prior to the uploading of the YouTube worship service in place of a Sunday bulletin.

Regarding the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, those who desire to receive the Sacrament are invited to request private communion either at home or at the church. During such private (family) communions, only individual cups will be used, unless the communicants provide their own cup or goblet from home.

Additionally, an online Bible study will be offered in the future for those who wish to join this live class. To do so, go to our church calendar under the “Programs and Calendar” tab of this website, and click the link in the calendar.

Finally, until all of this clears up, please remember the words of our God, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. You are in my prayers; please keep me in yours!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

March 2020: Deny Myself+ Expand

Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.!” (Luke 9:23)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

What a foreign concept! In the verse above, Jesus tells us to deny ourselves. But why would anyone do that?

Aren’t we supposed to live life to the fullest? Doesn’t God want us to have full and happy lives? While many would like to think so, the truth is that God, in Scripture, has said no such thing regarding this present life. To the contrary, Jesus spoke of denying self, of being last instead of first, of losing your life for His sake, of turning the other cheek, of facing persecutions and the like.

This is one of the reasons that Christians, during the season of Lent, emphasize self-denial. Giving something up for Lent reminds us of Christ’s command to take up our crosses and follow Him. As He denied Himself, so are we to. And historically, this custom received greater emphasis than today.

Consider the practice of the Church before Rome had become thoroughly Christian. At that time, those who wished to be baptized received rigorous training during the Lent season, with Baptism taking place on Easter Eve. At the beginning of Lent, those who wished to be baptized would make a promise to give up their allegiance to the devil. Then, throughout the season, they would not bathe or shave. They could eat only after sundown, and spent their time primarily in meditation within the walls of the church. Then on Holy Saturday, they would undergo a public examination, and were left to pray and meditate into the night, eager for their Baptisms on Easter.

How different from today. Today we look for the easy way. Christians today would rebel at the suggestion of a practice as exacting as the one observed by believers in the early Church.

However, perhaps, there is something to be learned by us here. The early Christians, by their self-denial, no doubt had a greater appreciation of the self-sacrifice that Christ made on their behalf than we do. What do you think? Perhaps giving something up for Lent would be a helpful exercise for us after all.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

February 2020: Viral Cure+ Expand

The Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick”. (Luke 5:30-31)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

According to Friday’s headline, the virus has killed 26 people and infected at least 830 more. I’m referring to the Wuhan coronavirus. While primarily affecting the people of China, where travel restrictions have been placed on 40 million people, cases have also been reported in Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the U.S. Health authorities around the world are now taking action against the spread of this disease for which antibiotics are of no use. Hopefully by doing so, a global pandemic can be prevented.

If only all deadly diseases received this kind of attention. Sadly, this is not so. In fact, the very diseases which are the deadliest of all are for many people their least concern.

I am thinking of the spiritual disease of sin, the cancer of unbelief and the poisonous teaching that a belief in any god will do. These things lead to death—a certain eternal death that is as real as and more tortured than death by the Wuhan coronavirus.

If someone among us were diagnosed with the coronavirus, we would be concerned for that individual and worried for ourselves. We might also wonder about the source of the infection and we would be eager to eliminate it.

Yet, although countless sufferers of spiritual poisoning surround us, we are often content to let them be. We shed no tear for the infected and appear unconcerned that such spiritual diseases may spread to us or our loved ones. And although we have the antidote (God’s Word) among us, we do little to eradicate the source.

Thankfully someone else has done much. Jesus came to eradicate the deadly spiritual diseases of this world by declaring God’s love to it. This He did for all—including you and me. But He did so at a great cost. He came right into the midst of the infected, exposing Himself to our sin. Then, with our diseases upon Himself, He shed His precious blood for us so that by it, we might be cured eternally.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

January 2020: Blessed+ Expand

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It seems a little odd to be reflecting on the year gone by, for, after all, it is already March as I sit writing this article. But although the year of 2019 is already beginning to fade into a memory of yesteryear, there are some things about the year gone by that are worth noting.

This past year was a year in which God poured out upon us His blessings. Among those blessings was the rich abundance of His supply of material wealth by which we were enabled to generously return a portion of His supply towards the furtherance of His kingdom work among us and abroad. By God’s grace, our offerings not only exceeded what we had budgeted for the year but also exceeded what we spent, so that we were left with a healthy surplus at year end. Moreover, our mission giving fell only $224 short of our mission goal.

Other figures for the year are also encouraging. After twelve years of decline or stasis, we saw an increase in both our baptized and communicant membership. Additionally, our weekly average attendance remained unchanged from last year and slightly up from the year before.

But the most significant thing worth noting is a change in practice implemented during the year gone by. After many years of communing monthly and on certain festive days, our congregation elected to offer the Lord’s Supper twice monthly plus on the same festive days as before. To me, this is a thing to be celebrated. After all, the Sacraments are, together with the Word of God, the means by which God blesses us. Through these gifts of Word and Sacrament, He brings about the spiritual growth of His people. There are no other means, methods, tools or techniques through which God promises to increase faith and love. How precious, therefore, that we now not only have the Word of God proclaimed among us weekly, but also have the sacrament of His body and blood distributed among us with greater frequency.

The year of 2019 is one worth remembering and celebrating, and, by God’s grace, so will the year ahead be blessed!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

December 2019: ’Tis the Season+ Expand

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It’s here! Well not really. Technically Christmas is still a month away, but that’s not what shopping malls and radio stations are telling us. They are telling us that Christmas has arrived, and some are already in full Christmas swing.

But are they really? Do they even know how to get into the “swing” of Christmas?

Just today, I heard John Lennon’s song, “So this is Christmas”, playing on the radio. In it, Lennon expresses his desire for peace, equality and an end to war. But as it was playing, I couldn’t help thinking, “isn’t this the same guy who in another song of his asks us to imagine how wonderful things would be without religion?”

Now that doesn’t sound like Christmas to me. For how can you have Christmas without religion? Christmas is born out of the Christian religion. It is a celebration that has its very origin with God, who, out of His great love for us, sent His beloved Son to bring us salvation.

But with every passing year, this seemingly obvious truth is becoming more obscured. The majority of Canadians today primarily identify Christmas with Santa Claus, gift giving, family gatherings and the sort of earthly tranquility of which Lennon sang. Some have absolutely no knowledge of the true reason for Christmas. And although most may still understand that it has something to do with a baby lying in a manger, Christ and our heavenly Father’s love is no longer the chief thing for them.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this. When Canadians or people around the world sing or play secular songs such as “So this is Christmas”, they are not celebrating the same holiday as we are. We may both use the word “Christmas” to identify the season and we may both use similar vocabulary (peace, love, joy) to describe the season, but that which most people are celebrating is not at all the same as that which the people of God in the Christian Church celebrate.

So let the world get into its Christmas swing now. Santa and company are immaterial to us.

For soon will come our celebration, when we will say, “‘Tis the season”. Then the people of God shall rejoice. For, in the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father’s love is revealed and peace between God and mankind is established.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2019: The Me Too Movement+ Expand

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (I Corinthians 12:26-27)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

This Pastor’s Message is not an easy one for me to write. In 30 years of ministry, I have never written anything like this before. For, it is never easy to rebuke; it is always easier to encourage.

I must confess that only once before during the time of my pastorate here at St. Paul’s have I been as disappointed. So what’s the reason for my current disappointment? It has to do with the outcome of the conversations that we have had regarding our Sunday Worship and Education Hour schedule.

Early in the summer, I was hopeful, believing that we would see a struggling Sunday School become viable again, a Youth Bible Class revived and an Adult Bible Class increase in size as a result of adjusting our Sunday morning schedule. Parents had expressed an interest in having their children attend an education hour after an earlier worship service and some adults had indicated that they would be willing to join in on the adult class once here for worship anyway.

However, much of that seems unlikely now. That schedule was not adopted. And it is now becoming apparent that the schedule that we adopted as a compromise may not produce the hoped-for results either. So you can understand the reason for my disappointment. There is a possibility that our Sunday School will fold, that a Youth Bible Class will not come to fruition and that the adult Bible class will remain small.

But my disappointment extends beyond this. For I can’t help but wonder what brought us to this point. Were we all just a little too focussed on “Me” instead of putting ministry, congregation and the needs other members first? Whether out of a desire to sleep-in an extra half hour or some other scheduling consideration, did we consider—are we considering—the needs of the other members of our family? We are one family. In fact, according to the verse above, we are one body. And if one part of our body suffers, the whole body suffers, including me.

My hope, at this late hour, is that a ministry of Christian education for young and old alike on a Sunday morning may yet come to be. But if not, I pray that God would allow us all to grow in our understanding that the needs of others should be considered before “Me”, so that in the future, ministry, congregation and God’s kingdom may flourish.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

October 2019: Voting – A God-Given Duty+ Expand

The authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. (Romans 13:6)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

In roughly three weeks, Canadians will be going to the polls to elect a new government. Are you planning to vote? I hope so! Casting a vote is your God-given opportunity to help set a God-pleasing course for our nation.

Notice that I said a “God-pleasing” course, not a “personally advantageous” course. While economic policies should be the concern of God's people, the far greater civic responsibility of us, as Christian people, is to do God’s will.

Sadly, the will of God is not always given due consideration by Christians as they head to the polls. Our decisions are often based upon what political leaders will do for us verses how they will serve Christ.

God's Word, however, declares that “the authorities are God's servants”. Our concern, therefore, as those who elect these servants of God, must be their willingness to fulfil their role as God’s servants.

We should be prayerfully seeking to determine where the prospective leaders and other candidates of our country stand on issues of morality and faith. Our votes should be cast for those men and women known for their Christian principles and exemplary godly lifestyle.

More important than electing those who support policies that will give us a few more dollars to spend is being represented and led by lawmakers who maintain God’s love and justice. With such leaders, God will be pleased; and God's favour will be upon us also. More important than voting the way our family has always voted is being prayerful about the outcome of the election.

So what will it take to win us over? Will it be new tax credits, first-time home buyer incentives, promises to balance the budget and new health care programs, or will it surround the right to life for all Canadians, discontinuing the use of public funds to promote a culture of abortion globally, rejecting the LGBTQ’s gender identity ideology and granting churches complete freedom to uphold Biblical truth and practice. Let your conscience, not your pocket book, lead you.

And be sure to let your conscience be heard! On October 21, use your God-given opportunity—fulfil your God-given duty—and vote. Remember to go to the polls and pray that, through us, God’s will be done.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

September 2019: Great Treasure+ Expand

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:170)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Years ago, when the purchasing power of a dollar was considerably greater than it is today, an old man discovered about $5,000 in a family Bible. The money had been placed there by his aunt who had died 40 years earlier and who had declared in her will, “To my nephew, Stephen Marsch, I will and bequeath my family Bible and all it contains.” For years, this man lived in poverty, unaware of the money hidden in his Bible. Had he only opened it, he would have found this treasure. But expecting nothing of value to come from its pages, he never bothered to look.

How sad a story—sad because this man needlessly suffered for years—sadder still because he did without an even greater treasure for just as long.

Friends, while the Bibles that are in our homes may not be stuffed with large amounts of money, each and every one of them does contain this greater treasure. God's Word is a very precious treasure indeed!

Yet, we often fail to take advantage of this precious treasure, for like Marsch, we expect nothing of value to come from our Bibles. That isn't to say that we aren't aware that the Bible is God's Word and a book worth reading. Nor is it to say that we never read this Word.

Yet, there is something within us that from time to time declares “I'm too busy, or tired, to open the Bible today”; as if the Word of God is not that great of a treasure after all. Would such thoughts pass through our minds if we knew that $5,000 were waiting for us between the pages? And what if that sum of money would be replenished every day? We would surely be filled with a new burst of energy and easily find the time to open our Bibles faithfully every day.

Friends, our Bibles contain even greater treasures than large sums of money. For all the money of this world will rot and vanish long before even a fraction of God's eternal treasure is realized. But let’s not wait for eternity. The treasures of God are available here and now and, to be sure, there is greater wealth to be found in God's Word than we shall ever realize in this life.

Therefore, with summer drawing to a close and our schedules returning to normal, let’s keep our Bibles in arm's reach and open. We will surely be the richer for doing so.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

July & August 2019: Church Blessings+ Expand

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

No doubt, some of you have read the announcement in today’s newsletter regarding the frequency of communion. This fall, during the months of September through November, the Lord’s Supper will be offered twice a month on the 2nd and last Sundays of the month for a trial period. So why the trying out a more frequent communion schedule?

Increasing the frequency with which the Lord’s Supper is offered at St. Paul’s is not something new. A couple of generations ago, the Lord’s Supper was offered less than six times a year. But a decision was made to increase that number to its current 16 times per year. Clearly some—perhaps even many of us—understood the benefit of doing so.

In more recent years, there have been inquiries about offering the Lord’s Supper more frequently still, so that our practice might be in line with what almost every other LCC congregation is practicing. Currently, we are the only Lutheran congregation in our circuit that still celebrates the Lord’s Supper monthly.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “If we do this more often, it will become less meaningful.” At first, this has the appearance of wisdom; but consider this. Do we apply this reasoning to other elements of the worship service? Are we worried about praying too frequently? Reading the Bible too much? Shall we be safe and make preaching less frequent? All of these things are special to us precisely because they are frequent practices.

So let’s give it a try! And remember, that afterward we will look for feedback. For whatever we do thereafter, we want to do it together. We want to move forward as a loving and listening family.

That’s how Christians in the early church functioned. They met regularly—weekly, as we do—devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Interestingly the early church did all of these things every time they gathered together.

That isn’t to say that we must do the same. While a more frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper is described in the Bible, it is nowhere commanded in the Bible. But then, celebrating the Lord’s Supper isn’t about being commanded to do so. It’s about the Lord’s invitation and the blessing that He there offers us.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

June 2019: A Sure Thing+ Expand

He saved us … so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. (Titus 3:5, 7-8)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It was 1995 when the Toronto Raptors played their first NBA game against the New Jersey Nets. Now, almost 25 years later, they have taken a 1 – 0 lead in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. So, will this be the year when they go all the way?

That’s what every Raptors fan is hoping for. And if fan enthusiasm counts for anything, then a Raptors victory is in the bag. But sadly, an NBA victory and the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy can’t be brought about in this way. Even if our enthusiasm were to grow—even if every person in Canada were to wear a Raptors T-shirt, all of it would be nothing more than wishful thinking.

In life many things are nothing more than wishful thinking. Things which people count on as a sure thing often fall through. The best made plans can change suddenly because of things beyond our control.

I recall a young couple whose wedding arrangements were proceeding just as planned until their wedding day when the groom’s father died of a heart attack. How unexpected!

And life is like that—filled with the unexpected. There is so little of which we can be sure.

Even something as seemingly certain as the rising of the sun is not guaranteed. For the Scriptures declare that a day will come when we will witness “the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.”

What then is certain? As far as our future is concerned, only this: eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus. This sole truth is based first of all on the certainty of the past, namely the death and resurrection of Jesus. He died and He rose—these are historic facts that cannot be undone. Secondly, it is based on the trustworthiness of God. Unlike anyone or anything else, God is not fickle, nor is there anything beyond His control. God’s plans are absolutely certain.

This includes even that which, many believe is the least certain of all. Because eternal life cannot be seen, many refuse to believe it. How far from the truth! For, this is certain: “Having been justified by His grace, through faith, we are the heirs of eternal life!”

Pastor Richard A. Frey

May 2019: Forgiveness+ Expand

Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. (Luke 11:4)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

While it has not been confirmed, some analysts believe that the Easter Sunday bombings, that claimed the lives of at least 253 people—primarily Christian worshipers—in Sri Lanka, were done in retaliation of the March 15 shootings in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that claimed the lives of 50 people. Whether or not that is so, Muslims in Sri Lanka are now fearing the possibility of retaliation by Christians. Were that to take place, would the number of fatalities again escalate? And would there be after this yet another retaliation against Christians, greater still in magnitude? And would the retaliation ever end?

Hate, bitterness and a spirit of retaliation will never produce a satisfactory solution. These can only produce more of the same. In addition, they will foster fear and anxiety.

Knowing this, our Lord calls His followers to forgive. As God in Christ forgave us, so are we to forgive one another. But this is no easy task. Imagine being among the survivors of the Easter Sunday bombings. Family members have been taken from you, their bodies not even recognizable. Your life has been changed forever. Can anyone truly expect you to forgive? The answer is yes.

That is not to say that forgiving will be easy. Forgiving is never easy, but it is precisely what we are called to do.

Forgiving wasn’t easy for Christ either. Let us never think for a moment that His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross and the forgiveness that He offered there was easy for Him. Nonetheless, in the midst of His agony, He forgave all who were responsible for it. Jesus forgave us—and continues to forgive us—for all our sins against Him.

So, it started with Him. He broke the cycle of retaliation. Now we are called to do the same—with this hope. As by Christ’s forgiveness, we have been brought to know God, so we hope that those who wish us harm will, instead of receiving retaliation, be blessed with the best gift of all—eternal life.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

April 2019: Patience+ Expand

The fruit of the Spirit is … patience (Galatians 5:22)
The Lord…is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

The weather outside, as I am sitting and writing this article, looks beautiful. The sun is shining, the snow is vanishing and the temperature is closing in on 10°C. And none too soon! Is it just me, or was this winter colder than others? How I’ve longed for the warmer weather to arrive!

But the waiting has not always been done in patience. Moreover, there are so many other things about which I am impatient. What about you? Do you also have a tendency to be impatient at times?

Why do you suppose that is? I believe that, in part, it is the result of our living in time.

Consider the weather once more. We know that in seven or eight short months, the weather will turn cold again. And we aren’t even out of the woods as far as this winter is concerned. If the forecast is correct, the snow may be flying again by the time most of you receive this newsletter. Summer is short, with every cold and rainy day cutting into the summer we long for, making it more difficult to be patient.

But what if the cold and wet were followed by an eternity of beautiful days? Would it not be easier to be patient? We might even find ourselves relishing the final few days of winter and spring.

And so it is with other things for which we wait. Because of the limitations of time, we know that we will not enjoy them as long as we would like. So we struggle to remain patient.

But not so with God. For He is not confined by time. He understands so much better than we the reality of the eternal summer to come. He therefore does not fret as we do over the cold and rainy days that fill these days leading up to eternity.

Our Lord is patient. In each day, regardless of how trying it is, He sees another opportunity to draw to Himself another soul for whom He sent His beloved Son to die. And as we grow in our ability to see the same opportunities, we will find it easier to be patient like Him.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

March 2019: Uniquely Christian+ Expand

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. (Matthew 5:13)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It isn’t easy to distinguish Christians from non-Christians. Former American pollster, George Gallup Jr. once wrote regarding Church attendance in the U.S., that it “makes little difference in people’s ethical views and behaviour with respect to lying, cheating, pilferage and not reporting theft.” Globally, the picture is similar. Chuck Colson, who prior to his conversion served seven months in prison for obstruction of justice, maintained that there are 100 times more burglaries in so-called “Christian” America than in so-called “pagan” Japan. If this is so, it is no wonder that so many have little or no interest in the claims of “active” Christians.

Consider, on the other hand, the man, Zacchaeus. After meeting Jesus, he said “Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” It seems that his coming to know Jesus as Saviour brought about a generosity in him that was noticeably distinct from the world around him.

And so ought we to be. Though in the world, we are not to be of the world. We are to be the salt of the earth, flavouring and shaping it, rather than conforming to it. Our compassion, generosity and willingness to take a stand for what is right should not take a back seat to that of others.

Yet so often, we do that unto which we have been called only if convenient or beneficial. Being sacrificially different than our neighbours rarely occurs to us.

Jesus, on the contrary, was just that—sacrificially different. His actions were motivated not by ease of life, personal needs or desire for acceptance. Jesus’ motive was love. Wanting to offer the world the forgiveness and life it needed, He denied Himself and served others unto death.

Now it’s our turn. We have many opportunities placed before us each and every day to love and to serve. May this be our goal. As we enter into this year’s Lenten season, may we reflect on the sacrificial love of Jesus for us and strive to be uniquely Christian in this unchristian world.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

February 2019: Sanctity of Life+ Expand

Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. (Proverbs 31:8)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

This past Sunday (today as well), congregations in Canada, including many congregations of Lutheran Church–Canada observed/are observing Sanctity of Life Sunday, naming issues such as abortion, physician assisted suicide and euthanasia in their public worship. Christians throughout our country are increasingly lifting up their voices to God in prayer, asking Him to deliver the people of our land from these sins and to heal them of their consequences.

And it is no surprise that they are doing so. For Canada has become a leader in championing those causes and practices that undermine the sanctity of life.

During the past year, multiple organizations, which applied for funding under the Canada Summer Jobs Program, were denied funding because they refused to sign a declaration stating their support for “Charter values”, namely abortion and same-sex marriage. However, abortion has never been determined by the courts nor Parliament to be a Charter right. Therefore, after considerable protest, the Canada Summer Jobs Program policy was changed—somewhat. While signing a declaration is no longer required, the new policy still prevents any organization whose main work includes advocating for pro-life and pro-family laws from accessing the program.

More recently, the subject of assisted suicide is again under debate in Canada, as proponents push to have legislation expanded to allow those without terminal illnesses to seek physician assisted suicide.

Internationally, Canada is faring no better. Although the country of Niger has declared abortion illegal and although it has ordered all foreign agencies (including Canadian agencies) to cease performing abortions in its country, Canada has recently committed millions of dollars to fund advocacy and lobbying efforts where it is illegal. In its disdain for life, Canada is even willing to undermine the national sovereignty of another country.

It seems that many in Canada—especially many in our current government—no longer cherish life. But God does. And as the people of God, so do we. Let us then renew our resolve to speak up for the speechless and to pray that all life be cherished.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

January 2019: The Growth Continues+ Expand

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

As long as a plant receives water and sunshine, it will grow. Right? Theoretically, yes. But in practice, it doesn’t always work that way in my house. Household plants often struggle to survive. And while I would like to blame the water, the sunshine or the plant itself, deep down I know that the problem is with the one in charge of making sure that the plant receives the things that God provides for its growth. The reason for the lack of growth is me.

So it is also when it comes to growing spiritually. If there’s a problem, it’s not for lack of those things that are critical to our spiritual growth. Just as water and sunshine are necessary for the growth of a plant, so God’s Word and Sacraments are critically important for the growth of God’s people. Thankfully, as with water and sunshine, God provides these in abundance for His people. He certainly provided these life-sustaining gifts for us this past year. And as a result, the year of 2018 was a year in which we, God’s people, grew spiritually.

Now, that’s no easy feat. In an age of rapidly changing societal norms, in a country where Christian values are openly mocked and decried, it is a wonder that a remnant of God’s people even exists. But here at St. Paul’s, as well as in other congregations where the Word of God is still being proclaimed, God’s people continued to gather and grow. By the grace of God, faith increased among us, deeds of love flourished, gifts of charity were shared and our Christian witness was maintained.

And that shall never change. For we have God’s promise among us. Through the prophet Isaiah, God declares, “My Word… shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”. As long as we abide in the gifts that God gives for our spiritual life, we shall not only live, but grow and thrive. May this promise carry us forward with confidence and courage!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

December 2018: Too Little, Too Late?+ Expand

When the time had fully come, God sent His Son. (Galatians 4:4)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Too little, too late. We might use those words to describe the warnings from public officials in what has become the deadliest wildfire in California history. With a death toll that has climbed to 87 and more than 600 still unaccounted for, victims of the fire are looking to hold someone accountable. They are calling public officials negligent for their delay in warning residents about the dangerous blaze.

Of course, it’s always easy to point a finger, even though we are often masters at procrastination ourselves. We debate within ourselves about what to do. Then, rather than move forward with confidence, we undertake something far less venturous than we would really like.

To be sure, our actions (or lack of them) aren't without their reasons. “The timing was wrong” or “It just didn't feel right” are among the reasons we may offer. Later, however, we may find ourselves saying, “I knew that I should have”.

Thankfully, our God does not operate in this way. God knew when the time was right. He chose a time of world peace, when many people spoke a common language, to implement a plan that had been in the works for centuries. These conditions allowed the news of His plan to spread throughout the world quickly. And when that time arrived, God did not become timid about implementing it. He moved forward with a plan that can only be described as radical. God the Father sent His only Son into our world in the form of a helpless baby to an unknown virgin living in a depressed region of backwards Palestine. This was God's relief plan for a suffering world.

Would it be too little, too late? Not at all!

Jesus, whose birth we will be celebrating soon, was just what our suffering world needed. This baby would take upon Himself the root cause of all of the suffering of the world—our sin. He would die with it as His own and conquer it, with the result that sin’s consequence—suffering and death—would also be overcome. Though people may still suffer and die in this world, we are aware of God’s relief plan. Eternal life is ours through faith in the One who came at just the right time.

May our remembrance of this coming fill our hearts with joy this Advent and Christmas season!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2018: The Gift of God’s Word+ Expand

The Word of the Lord remains forever. And this Word is the good news that was preached to you. (I Peter 1:25)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

When was the last time that you thanked God for your elbows? Please don’t tell me that you never have. After all, can you imagine life without elbows? How would you eat, swing a golf club or hold a baby? Lock your elbows as if you had none and try doing these or a host of other activities. Elbows are essential parts of our bodies that are easily under-appreciated because they are always there.

God’s Word is a little bit like elbows. It too is always there for us, doing what it needs to do. And because of that, it’s easy to take God’s Word for granted.

However, unlike elbows, God’s Word has not been, nor is, possessed by the majority of the people of this world. Think of ages past when printed literature of any kind was rare. While many households today own multiple copies of God’s Word, virtually no one owned a Bible up until a few hundred years ago. And even today, most of the people on this planet—including many Christians —do not possess a Bible.

Even among those that have a Bible, there are many who do not have God’s Word. For many have been led astray to believe something other than that which God clearly declares in the Bible. Instead of being taught of salvation as a free gift of God through faith in Jesus who died for the sins of the world and rose that the world might have life in Him, many are taught to trust in their own good deeds and efforts.

This was especially so in the day of Martin Luther. But thanks be to God, He gave us Luther who brought forth the pure teaching of God’s Word again. As a result, we have the precious Word of God among us again! Not only do we have Bibles in our homes, God’s Word of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is also proclaimed in our midst. In fact, it is now so common among us (thanks in part to Luther) that it has also sadly become under-appreciated like our elbows.

That does not however mean that the Word of God is of little value. To the contrary! Like our elbows the Word of God is essential to our every day life—our spiritual life. So let’s give thanks to God: for the good news contained in His Word and for men like Luther who have helped in the preaching of that Word among us today.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

October 2018: The Truth of God’s Word+ Expand

Jesus answered, “... Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

If you have been watching the news, then you have no doubt seen the unfolding of the Kavanaugh/Ford saga south the border. Christine Blasey Ford has accused supreme court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault when they were both high schoolers; while Ford is being accused of being a pawn in an orchestrated smear campaign.

So what is the truth? That’s what a Judiciary Committee is trying to establish. So you can imagine my surprise when some witnesses at the hearing, referring to Ford, spoke not of the truth, but of “her truth” (that which is true for her). But if there is a version of events that is true for Ford, then Kavanaugh must also have his truth. How can this be? Surely there can only be one truth.

While that seems self evident (at least to me), more and more people no longer see it that way. Instead, some people speak of a certain moral action as being right for one person but wrong for another, or of an action being right on one occasion but wrong at other times.

No wonder then that we as Christians find it difficult to defend the Word of God. For the world no longer accepts the idea that there are moral absolutes—things that are always right and other things that are always wrong. Although God’s Word declares that God, as our Creator, has the right to determine what is right and wrong, and that He has established moral absolutes, the world has rejected this teaching outright. For many in the world, truth is in flux and therefore those who wish to speak to them about God’s Word have nothing to say.

But can there be multiple truths? Can one plus one equal both two and three? To be sure, no! And this applies to more than mathematical equations. It applies to history as well.

There can be only one true account of what happened between Kavanaugh and Ford. Similarly, there can be only one true account of what happened 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. Pilate, who asked Jesus, “What is truth?”, deep down knew the truth. He knew that it was wrong to execute an innocent man. Nonetheless, he put Him to death.

But here’s another amazing truth. This same Jesus rose again from the grave and still lives today. Moreover, His truth still stands: that all who confess their sins and believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

September 2018: Built Upon the Rock of God’s Word+ Expand

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Is your faith built upon the rock of God’s Word or the sand of man’s opinion? The truth of the matter is that for many Christians, it’s a bit of both. While we confess allegiance to the Word of God, the reality is that we are also influenced by the opinions of those around us.

Part of the reason for that is that we are regularly bombarded on all sides with popular opinions and fashionable theories, aimed at undermining our foundation—the unchanging Word of God. To complicate matters, we often feel ill equipped to respond to these attacks against the Word of God. Statements as simple as “The Bible is filled with contradictions” or “Fossils prove that we evolved from apes and that the Bible is wrong” send us into a mild panic. (Both of these statements, by the way, are false.) But without a proper grasp of what God’s Word and His marvelous creation declare about the world’s objections, responding to them will remain a challenge.

That’s why we are embarking on a twelve week DVD-based Bible study at St. Paul’s this fall. So that we all might be better equipped to answer questions such as, “Why should we trust the Bible?”, “How could Noah fit all the animals in the ark?”, “Where did the ‘races’ come from?” and “Does science confirm the Bible’s history?”, we will be offering “The Foundations” series at two different times. It is my hope that all of you will sign up for this series, not only so that our foundation on the rock of God’s Word might be more secure, but, so that together we might be able to defend our faith with greater confidence and boldness.

The truth matters. It matters when it comes to what we believe. It certainly matters when it comes to what we teach our children. It matters even more when it comes to knowing Him who alone can save us from the jaws of eternal death.

Join me this fall, won’t you—and invite your friends and neighbours too—to participate in “The Foundations” series. It’s time to put the opinions of men aside and to let God speak!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

July & August 2018: Summer - An Opportunity to Glorify God! + Expand

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (II Peter 3:18)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Summer is here, and so is the season for growing! The crops are up and flowers are in bloom everywhere. In the days to come, we will enjoy the fruits of the land. While this cycle is not new, it is an exciting thing nonetheless to experience the growth that summer brings.

There is, however, much more than vegetation that should be growing during the summer months. As God declares through the Apostle Peter in the verse above, we are to be growing... spiritually!

While summertime (holiday time in particular) has been viewed by many as a time for rest—not only in general, but from spiritual growth also—this should not be so. As Christians, we should always be growing spiritually in order to glorify God. Summer should be a time of rest FOR spiritual growth.

In my teenage years, I was a member of a youth group. Our group met once a week during the school year. However, in the summer, we met three times a week. We used the extra time that we had (our holiday time) for spiritual growth. Of course, not everyone has more leisure time in the summer.

But, for those who do, summer is a perfect time to do that for which there may be insufficient time during the rest of the year. Summertime—especially holiday time—is a great opportunity for a little "fertilizing" and "weeding" of our souls.

So why not use your vacation time to grow in prayer? Add five minutes of prayer a day to your holiday and watch yourself grow! Or, how about reading an extra chapter of the Bible every day and seeing if it makes a difference in your life? Or what about singing a hymn or two every day with your family? But be careful if you do, for your family ties may just grow stronger.

How about it? Will this summer be a season of growth for us all? Let's give it a try!.

And the name of the Lord will be glorified both now and to the day of eternity. Amen!.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

June 2018: Paradise or Hell+ Expand

“I saw ... new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, ... and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more ... But as for ... the faithless, ... their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.” (Revelation 21:2-8)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Some people describe it as paradise. But more recently, it has taken on the appearance of hell. I’m talking about the island of Hawaii. Having entered its fourth week of eruptions, lava flows from the Kilauea volcano have now reached the ocean and lava fountains are erupting from a nearly continuous 2-mile-long portion of a series of fissures that have opened up in the ground. Thousands have been evacuated as highways have been cut off and homes have been destroyed. Sulfur dioxide in the air has made breathing difficult and mounds of black hardened lava have replaced portions of the lush Polynesian jungle. Even some locals are describing their surroundings as paradise turned to hell.

But the truth of the matter is that anything we describe as hell here on earth pales in terror next to the horrors of the one true eternal hell, described as the lake of fire in the verses above. There, those who have rejected Christ Jesus here on earth will continue to have their wish. They will continue to live apart from Him whom they denied here. What that will mean, however, is that they will live apart from all that is His. The good things of God’s creation will not be present in hell. There will be no lush Polynesian jungles, breathtaking sunsets or beautiful vistas of any sort. Nor will there be homes to please us, friends to cherish or good health to enjoy. Since every good gift comes from God, everything that is good will be absent in that place we call hell, where God is not found.

On the other hand, eternity with God will be just the opposite. There, in the true paradise to come, we, who believe and trust in Jesus Christ, will enjoy every good gift. And those gifts will include not only those that we have experienced here on earth or that our finite minds can imagine, but far more. For we shall be with Him who is the Creator and Giver of every good gift. There, every tear will be wiped away. There, Hawaii, will be seen as but a poor forerunner of what paradise truly is.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

May 2018: His Brother's Keeper+ Expand

“Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 5:8-9)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It has been a difficult week in Toronto. Many people are asking why Alek Minassian used a rental van to run down pedestrians in Canada’s largest city, killing at least 10 people and injuring 15 others.

So what might have been done to prevent it? Some suggest stricter regulations when renting a vehicle could have prevented it. Others propose the shutting down of specific internet sites as a solution. Sadly, neither of these things may have prevented the tragedy.

Senseless murders are much older than either motorized vehicles or the internet. A quick look at the Bible confirms this. In it, is the record of Cain murdering his brother Abel. This crime also must have caused people to ask the question, “Why?” For no one had ever killed another human being before. This was a first and it must have shocked the world.

But the reason for the crime was not shocking. It was as simple as jealousy. Cain, who had been giving God his second best, believed that he wasn’t receiving the same recognition from God as Abel. Therefore, out of jealousy, he killed his brother. For this he was judged.

And will you believe that the recent Toronto murders were committed for a similar reason? Minassian was jealous too. He was jealous of other men who are more successful with women than he. Thus he committed murder also, for which he too is judged.

Then there’s Jesus. He was not a murderer, nor was there a jealous bone in His body. Instead, He suffered at the hands of jealous murderers, in the hope that some of them might repent of their sin, trust in Him and receive forgiveness for their jealous and murderous ways.

And while we may be offended at the thought of declaring the likes of Minassian forgiven, let’s understand that we ourselves are in need of the same forgiveness. For although we are not murderers, we have frequently succumbed to jealousy and often failed at being our brother’s keeper. Thankfully, God sent His Son Jesus into the world not for the grossest of sinners only.

Jesus lived, suffered and died for all of us equally, so that we, who, like Minassian and Cain, are undeserving of forgiveness and eternal life, might receive these from God nonetheless. Through faith in Jesus, forgiveness and eternal life are ours whoever we are. Thanks be to Jesus who became His brother’s keeper!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

April 2018: Plain to See Salvation+ Expand

“I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation.” (Exodus 15:1b-2a)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

What a sight! But as gruesome as it was, it must also have been a joyous relief to see. The army of Pharaoh, which had been pursuing Moses and his people in the hope of enslaving them again and with the likely intent of killing some of them, was now belly up with their horses in the Red Sea. What that meant was that the people of Israel, who had a moment earlier been fearing for their lives, were now safe. By His strength, God had saved them; and that salvation was so plain to see, that Moses and the people sang a song of triumph unto the Lord.

In a similar (plain to see) way, God has saved us. We too were being pursued, not by soldiers and chariots, but by sin and the devil. These pursuers, as the pursuers of the people of Israel, meant to enslave and kill us also. But as God intervened for the Israelites in exodus, so God intervened for us. By His strength, God saved us by defeating those intent on harming us. By sending His Son, Christ Jesus, among us to do battle for us, sin and Satan were defeated —right before our eyes. It began with Jesus’ public execution on a cross. Many saw it and recorded the details. It ended with the report that the grave, in which He had been laid and which had been sealed to prevent His body from being stolen, was empty. Both of these events—Christ’s crucifixion and His empty tomb—were viewed by many.

What’s more, hundreds saw, and some even touched and ate with, the resurrected Christ. His victory over sin and death were so plain to see that many of these witnesses were even willing to suffer death rather than deny the truth of His resurrection. Why would they do that, unless they had actually seen what they claimed to have seen. Only a fool would die for that which he knew is a lie. Were all of the apostles and many of the other witnesses fools? No! Rather, they had seen God’s salvation from those things that had earlier caused them to fear for their lives in the person of the victorious and resurrected Christ.

About Him, they sang songs of victorious praise. And God’s people are still raising their voices in triumph unto the Lord. Let us say with them, “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

Pastor Richard A. Frey

March 2018: Gold!+ Expand

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

A new Olympic record for Canada! As of Friday, Canada won 27 medals, surpassing its previous record of 26 set on home soil in 2010. And what exciting games for Canada they have been, despite some upsets in women’s hockey and men’s curling.

But just as interesting for me has been the great disparity of medals won by two neighbouring countries that I have always thought to be somewhat similar. With a population of just over 5 million each, Norway leads the medal pack with 37 while Finland has won only 4 bronze. So why the difference? It surely can’t be that the Norwegians are athletically that superior to the Finns. The difference more likely is in the training and/or funding that these countries offer their athletes. If that’s the case, then Norway not only values its athletes, it has an impressive way of supporting them monetarily.

So what is it that we value? That’s not a trick question. It is also not a difficult thing to determine. According to the verse above, it is as simple as seeing where our treasure is. In other words, what are our investments and where do we spend our money. If it’s on our home, then that’s where our heart will be. If we spend our treasure on a fancy car, then that’s what we’ll value.

Of course, as God’s people, we also claim that His kingdom is valued by us. That’s what Jesus had been talking about when He spoke the words recorded by Luke in the verse above. He had been talking about the kingdom of God. It’s that kingdom of which we wish to be a part. It’s also that kingdom that we hope will flourish.

But how? Perhaps we need to take a lesson from the Norwegians. They might say, if you want something, put your treasure there. Invest in it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Do we want eternal life for ourselves and for our children? Are our hearts burning for others—that more believe in Jesus Christ and be saved? Do we value the kingdom of God? Then let it be truly so! Let us place our treasure there. Let us give our time, talent and treasure into God’s service so that together we may win the gold.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

February 2018: Remembered!+ Expand

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

“What's for dinner?" he asked, after taking off his boots.

“Dinner?” responded his wife. “We've always gone out on our anniversary. You didn't forget, did you?”

“Me, forget? Ummm...., maybe the dinner part, but not that today is our anniversary! Are you ready to eat?”

So, what do you think? Did he remember? Or was his response a cover-up? And how do you suppose his wife felt? I imagine his forgetfulness must have bothered her. Perhaps it caused her to question his love.

Our words and actions often reflect our passions and priorities, especially when spoken or done spontaneously. On the other hand, if we need to be prodded, prompted, nudged or even manoeuvred into speech or action, it says little for our love of the matter.

What then shall we say of those who, when asked, declare their love of Jesus, but only when asked. Or what about the one who declares: “I love my church,” but he doesn't seem to notice the many things which need doing around the church. Perhaps he has even said: “Let me know if you ever need help,” but he rarely, if ever, serves Christ's Church because he is rarely approached with a personal request for help.

Do we really need to be reminded or asked? There are so many avenues of service, so many opportunities for fellowship, and so many souls that are perishing with such little time to live for the kingdom of God.

Of course, times are busy. “Maybe next year”, say many. But next year never comes. “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come”, writes Solomon, the man of wisdom. He knew too that there is no time like the present. Life usually tends to get busier with each passing year and, with increasing age, more difficult besides.

So now is the time. Let's set our cover-ups aside, confessing our forgetfulness and even apathy (at least at times) to the kingdom of Christ to which we belong.

And we will discover that our Creator remembers us. Forgetting His Son on the cross, He remembered us. Forgiveness is ours! Moreover, He will ever remember us, His creation, and we will never be disappointed in His service.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

December 2017: Sound the Alarm+ Expand

[Jesus said] “What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!” (Mark 13:37)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

The fire alarm sounds and soon all the children are in a line walking out of the school into the yard. No one was expecting the bell to sound that day. It came as a bit of a surprise. But better to be surprised by a fire alarm than to be hurt in a fire.

The season of Advent, into which we are entering, is a little bit like an alarm. In the Advent season, the message is proclaimed, “The Lord is near! He is coming… to be the judge of everyone!”

So what shall we do? How shall we respond? When a fire alarm sounds, children know what to do. Do we know how to respond to Advent’s alarm?

Thankfully, the season of Advent not only sounds an alarm, it also shows us how to be ready for the Lord’s coming. For, it shows us whom to trust, so that when the Lord returns in judgement, we will not be found lacking.

The season of Advent, you see, not only points to the coming of Christ in judgement; it also points to the day of His birth in a manger in Bethlehem. There, the Son of God—the world’s future judge—came as our Saviour. There He came not in power but in gentleness. There He came not as one to be feared but as one to be trusted.

The season of Advent therefore shows us the one in whose name we may confidently stand before the coming Judge. It is none other than the Judge Himself, who first came as Saviour to prepare us for His second coming as Judge.

You see, Jesus wants no one to be caught by surprise when He comes to judge the people of this earth. Even as school children are taught how to respond to a real fire, so Jesus came as a baby, grew, lived and died among us in order that we might be prepared for His real and final return.

He is coming. Watch! Listen! Can you hear the alarm sounding? It says, “Trust in Jesus!” By His life and death for you, you are forgiven. In Him, you shall stand blameless before the Judge when He comes.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2017: The Whole Truth+ Expand

[Jesus said] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

This October 31 will mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation—a movement that had its beginning with Martin Luther’s nailing of 95 thesis to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

But contrary to what some people believe, Luther had no intention of breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church. Nor had he developed a full Lutheran doctrine at that time. Although he was challenging the practice of the selling of indulgences (certificates that, in exchange for a payment of money, supposedly granted forgiveness of sins and release from purgatory), he still embraced most of the teachings of the Roman Church when he posted his famous thesis.

As a devout Roman Catholic, Luther believed in the existence of purgatory, the celibacy of the priesthood, prayers to the saints and so much more. Regarding these things, Luther would discover the truth from God’s Word in the months and years to come.

But Luther did not wait until then to take a stand. He did not wait until he had a truckload of grievances before speaking out. For he understood that every part of God’s Word is important and any perversion of even a part of it is a travesty. Luther understood that God is not just interested in our clinging to the main teachings of the Bible, while not fretting about the rest.

After all, who are we to designate portions of God’s Word as more or less important? God does not give us the option to set aside some of His Word as nonessential. For Jesus Himself acknowledged the value of every part of God’s Word down to the dot of a single iota (Greek letter “I”). Similarly, we are to receive all of God’s Word as the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

That’s why in 1517 Luther took the stand that he did. A single abuse against the Word of God should be enough to cause any Christian to rise up in protest. God grant us always a similar zeal for the truth of His holy Word!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

October 2017: Give Thanks!+ Expand

“We can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me.” (Hebrews 13:6)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It started with Hurricane Harvey. After a record 12-year span in which no hurricanes made landfall in the United States, Harvey was an extremely destructive hurricane which killed 82 in the US and one in Guyana and which caused between $70 and $200 billion of damage in eastern Texas. More recently, Hurricanes Irma and Jose caused a combined 127 fatalities and billions more in damage. And let’s not forget the more than 300 persons who lost their lives in the September 19 earthquake in central Mexico. All this in less than one month. This world is filled with large-scale natural disasters, not to mention war, illness, financial ruin, family heartaches and so much more. And no one is immune.

Although many are of the opinion that God will not allow any danger to befall those who trust in Him, this is simply not so. Christians, along with others, suffer hardships in this world. Christians, as others, contract diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and, in the end, will die. Christians, together with others, may suffer losses on the stock market and make poor financial decisions.

Nonetheless, those who believe in Christ need not fear. Why? As the writer of the book of Hebrews pens in the verse above, "The Lord is my helper." Consider also these words of Christ our Lord: "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." While we may suffer loss in this world, sometimes as a result of the contempt or folly of others, our souls are safe in Christ.

Moreover, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who rose bodily from the grave, will not only deliver our souls from death, but our bodies too. We believe in the bodily resurrection and the restoration of all things beautiful and good. Whatever good we had, though we may lose it for a time, it will be ours again with more besides. Not one thing will be lost or taken away.

"We can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me." In Christ Jesus, we can relax, be at ease, be content, and more than all this, we can even give God thanks!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

September 2017: Be on Your Guard for What’s Next?+ Expand

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

What will be next? That’s what many are wondering about the leader south of the border, who seems to get tripped up in one scandal after another of his own making. The most recent case in point follows the killing of a 32 year old woman at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on August 12. While the president issued a statement condemning racist violence, the KKK, and neo-Nazis, he only did so after two days of stalling and a considerable outcry.

Canada’s chief, on the other hand, seems to be far more sensible. Always well spoken, our prime minister puts forth a very positive image.

However, let’s take a quick look at the record of our prime minister and allow it to speak for itself. As Jesus Himself said, “By their fruit you will recognize them”.

Consider the following. Under the leadership of our prime minister, the liberals have banned anyone who is prolife from running as a candidate for their party. They have pledged up to $20 million to fund international sexual health initiatives including many abortion-related projects. They have passed anti-Islamophobia legislation. And, with the introduction of Bill C-51, they are currently attempting to remove the only provision in the Criminal Code that directly protects the rights of individuals to freely practice their religion, whatever that religion may be.

Perhaps, we in Canada are the ones who need to be asking the question, “What will be next?” Although the person at the helm of our country is not running from one fire of his own making to the next, he may be building a fire that eventually will burn out of control. It seems to me that this could be, in the end, a far more dangerous thing.

No wonder then that Jesus warns us to be on our guard against those who look innocent—even trustworthy—on the outside, but are in fact false guides on the inside. Politically, emotionally and religiously, there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing around us. Do not be deceived—neither in what you believe nor in who you trust. Beware!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

July & August 2017: Weed Control+ Expand

And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?” (Matthew 13:27)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

A quick look around town will reveal more than a few lawns infested with weeds. The lawn near the church office door is similarly overgrown with weeds, even though the weeds have been sprayed and new grass seed has been planted on more than one occasion over the years. So where do the weeds all come from? We didn’t plant them. While their appearance is no mystery, I am frequently surprised by the speed at which they continually reappear.

These weeds and our ongoing struggle to keep them under control provide a perfect picture of the spiritual battle that each of us face. Although we lament their appearance, within our spirits, sins often flourish. Impatience plants itself, lust takes root, anger pops up, pride grows tall, greed chokes out that which is good and apathy creeps everywhere. And along with all of that comes worry, shame, guilt and remorse. These things keep reappearing in our lives.

So what can we do? It’s obvious isn’t it? As with a lawn, you keep working at it. The weeds need to be put down and new seed needs to be planted. Not once, nor just twice. It’s a battle that homeowners face throughout the year every year. Even if they stay on top of things, the weeds continue to reappear. The battle never ends.

In the same way, our battle spiritually will also always rage. We must not however give up. Instead, like the homeowner, we must put down the sin by confessing it to God. Daily, we must repent of our sin, casting it down before the feet of Christ.

And as we do, it will be good for us to remember His words in John’s first letter, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. This Word and promise of Christ is the seed that needs to be continually sown in our hearts. For it is this word that will overcome the worry, shame, guilt and remorse that so stubbornly cling to us.

Our confession and Christ’s promise (absolution)–these are what are needed for weed control.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

June 2017: What You can’t See Can Hurt You+ Expand

Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. (Psalm 19:12)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

You have probably heard the saying, “what you can’t see can’t hurt you”. Of course, you probably also realize that this saying is far from true.

Bacterial infections can go altogether unnoticed and contaminated water looks harmless to the naked eye; but these unseen threats can be extremely dangerous. History is replete with accounts of plagues that claimed thousands of lives, even though nothing harmful was ever perceived. What you can’t see can hurt you.

On a spiritual level, what we can’t see can also be dangerous. That’s why the writer of Psalm 19 above was concerned about his errors. He understood that his hidden faults–his sins of which he was unaware–could prove fatal.

How different from another man. In Psalm 10, “[the wicked] says to himself, ‘God has forgotten; He covers His face and never sees.’"

But God does see. God is like the microscope that can detect bacteria in water. The writer of Hebrews declares, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Thus, we too should be concerned about our sins, even those sins of which we ourselves are unaware.

Thankfully, there is another who also is concerned about our faults. God Himself is deeply concerned. He understands, even more than we do, how deadly our sins are. For this reason, He provided an antidote, namely His Son, Jesus, through whom a total cleansing of sin is available.

That’s why the writer of the above psalm not only acknowledged his hidden faults, but also dared ask God for forgiveness for them. And you know what? He received that forgiveness.

And so do we. Through faith in Jesus, we are cleansed from the most deadly of things. Every sin, whether seen or not, is removed for those who are in Christ; and an eternal life, filled with perfect health, peace and joy, is theirs also.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

May 2017: Yes!+ Expand

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (II Corinthians 1:20)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Cancel or not cancel; what will Donald Trump do? First, he threatened to rip up NAFTA. Then he said he wouldn’t. But last week, he was back to saying he would scrap the deal before again saying that he wouldn’t. So what will next week bring? It’s difficult to say.

And that’s the way it is with so many things in this world. There are few things that are absolutely certain—few things that you can count on.

Not so with God! When God makes a promise, it is a sure thing. For God does not go back on His word. No matter how many and how big those promises are, when God says “Yes”, He means “Absolutely yes!”

That’s the way it was throughout the course of Old Testament times. Time and again, God warned His people of the consequences of their rebellion. And true to His word, they experienced the outcome of their disobedience each and every time just as He said they would. However, at the same time, God spoke of a coming redemption through a promised Messiah—One who would come to heal, forgive, reconcile and bless. And true to His word, God did this too.

Christ Jesus came into the world to fulfill every promise that God, over the course of thousands of years, had ever made. Unlike Donald Trump and so many other politicians, God is not fickle in His proclamations. He is true to His word and faithful to those to whom He lovingly makes His promises.

Nor does God play political games with us as some suppose the president of the U.S. is doing, hoping to gain some negotiating leverage by his threats and ploys. God is not interested in gaining leverage for Himself. Just the opposite. Christ Jesus came into the world quite willing to give up everything He had for our sake—that we might receive the fullness of God’s promise to reconcile His rebellious people to Himself.

And so it is! In Christ, we are the recipients of God’s gracious promises. In Christ Jesus, we have God’s “Yes!”

Pastor Richard A. Frey

April 2017: News of a Different Sort + Expand

[Jesus said], “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

The contrast is glaringly obvious. I am thinking of the contrast between recent news stories and the Easter story.

Over the last few days, several tragic news stories have caught my attention. First there was the story of Justin Kuijer, accused of murdering his stepson moments before attempting to kill a local bank employee. Then there was the report of the Westminster Bridge terror attack that killed five people and injured dozens more. And then there is the ongoing fentanyl news story—a story of a drug that is a hundred times more potent than heroin and responsible for an escalation of drug overdose deaths in Canada. Of course, these are but a few of the sad news stories that come our way every day.

But then, there is the Easter story—a story which is not about the taking of life, but about the giving of life. Oh sure, the Easter account begins with the loss of a life also. But that is not what makes the Easter story newsworthy. The Easter story is noteworthy news even today because it is the story of life.

The Easter story is unlike any other news story. For not only does the One who died revive after being buried for three days, but in His death and resurrection, He offers life to others—to the whole world.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”, He declared. Easter offers the wonderful news of Him who came to lay down His life for the sheep so that in Him, they may live. Through faith in the resurrected and eternal Christ, we have His own guarantee that we shall rise to live eternally too.

Though each day is filled with reports of those who come to steal and kill and destroy, we, the sheep of Jesus Christ, need not fear. Those who would try to harm us cannot leave any lasting harm. Even the devil himself cannot hurt us.

Now that’s what I call a news scoop. The Good Shepherd lives; and because He lives, so shall we! That’s what I call news of a different sort.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

March 2017: Refugees + Expand

When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. ” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It is a scenario that happens several times every day near the Quebec town of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle. A taxi arrives at a dead-end road on the American side, a family emerges, luggage is hauled across a border that is nothing more than a ditch, the RCMP arrests the asylum seekers and they are taken to be processed into an already overloaded system.

So what is your response to this? Perhaps you wonder why they can’t enter Canada through legitimate channels? Personally I am confused about it too, as I suspect many Canadians are.

But here is something about which I am not in the least confused. There is nothing wonderful about being a person without a country to call home. Life, for the many refugees of this world, is not easy. To be an alien in a foreign land or living in fear of deportation must certainly be quite stressful.

For that reason, we should deal compassionately with those who find themselves in such circumstances. Moreover, it is highly probable that somewhere in our ancestry, members of our family were strangers in a foreign land. God, in the verse above, calls on us to remember that.

Of course, let us not forget that in another sense, every human being was a refugee forced out of his homeland—forced out of Eden on account of our sin—into an unwelcoming world. But God did not abandon us. To the contrary, Christ Jesus, His Son, paid a high price, fulfilling every legal requirement for us so that we might receive legitimate status and legal citizenship in our heavenly Father’s kingdom. The Apostle describes it like this, “you are a chosen race, ... a holy nation, a people for his own possession ... Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

But let’s get back to the recent wave of asylum seekers. Perhaps this too shouldn’t be about what’s right, rather about mercy.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

February 2017: La palabra de Dios en ingles + Expand

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God. (Psalm 42:1-2a)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Close to fifty! That’s how many adults attended the Bible study that I was privileged to lead while I was in Nicaragua. And what made the size of the Leon group even more remarkable was that it was possibly larger than the Lutheran congregation that meets in that city. Clearly members of the congregation had invited their neighbours and friends. The end result was a hot, poorly-lit room in which my knees were almost up against the knees of those facing me in the first row, with close to forty in the room, and another ten in the doorway and looking through a window.

So what was it that brought them all there; and why were four other Bible study locations similarly well attended? Were they there to hear golden-tongued speakers? Hardly! For the leaders of the Bible studies (except for one) didn’t even speak Spanish. Translators were required. So then, what was the drawing card? It was la palabra de Dios (the Word of God).

Now think about that for a moment. How eager would you be to attend a Bible study in which the leader speaks in a language that you do not understand? Everything would be spoken twice, first in another language and then in your own, making the class twice as long. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll try to line one up.

The reality is that here in Canada, even Bible studies with ample seating, climate controlled rooms, visual aids and dynamic speakers are often poorly attended. Is it because we are too well fed? In our prosperity, are we forgetting Him from Whom all things come?

For all the poverty in Nicaragua – and there is a great deal – the people of that land understand who the Giver of all things is. They look to God for their daily blessings and they look to Him for the blessings of Spirit as well. Their problem is that many of them do not have enough of either, leaving them eager to receive whatever gifts are offered to them. Whether these gifts are in the form of used clothing or even the Word of God en ingles, they, with glad hearts, receive them.

May God similarly fill us with an eager desire for the precious gift of His Holy Word.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

January 2017: A Year of Mercy and Love + Expand

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Many of you, no doubt, are familiar with the psalm from which the above verse is taken. Psalm 136 is that psalm in which every verse ends with the same refrain. “For His mercy endures forever” is repeated 26 times! Other Bible versions translate these words, “For His love endures forever”.

Here at St. Paul’s, we have often spoken a portion of this psalm on Thanksgiving Sunday. And even though, when we do, we omit a full half of the psalm, I sometimes wonder, during the course of our speaking it responsively, whether any of you find the constant repetition of the same words monotonous. My hope of course is that this will not be the case; rather, that by the frequent rehearsing of these words, an important truth will be driven home.

God’s mercy and love truly endure forever. Nor is there anything that compares to God’s mercy and love.

This truth became more apparent to me during the year of 2016. Throughout the year gone by, I was struck time and again by God’s love toward someone as undeserving as me. My selfish nature, my lustful thoughts and my slothful ways would have worn out the patience of any other person. But not that of the Lord. His love and mercy endure forever.

At. St. Paul’s, it was so also. In 2016, we were far from the perfect congregation. Our missionary zeal, our compassion for fellow members of the congregation, our study of His Word, the frequency of our prayers, our charitable giving and a multitude of other things were so far short of what they could have been that the Lord could have easily been worn out by it all. But He wasn’t. And do you know why? Because His mercy and love endure forever.

How wonderful that is! How wonderful that God again blessed us in the many ways in which He did. As in the previous year, so again our average worship attendance increased by 2%, Sunday School attendance was also up, and thanks to a couple of bequests that were received in the year, our year-end bank balance remained almost unchanged.

God was good to us. His mercy did surround us. While some might look back on the previous year as a quiet and uneventful year, I see the year gone by as a testament to God’s amazing love and grace. O give thanks to the Lord! His mercy endures forever!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

December 2016:  True Peace+ Expand

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests.” (Luke 2:13-14)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Peace… As a child, I used to think that I did not want peace. It sounded too boring. I wanted excitement, not peace. Since then, I have learned that peace is a precious thing—something I want—something all of us need.

Peace has nothing to do with idle inactivity or boredom. True peace, in fact, is the very opposite. It is an exhilarating state, void of all debilitating turmoil, worry, anger and guilt. It is a life of complete freedom to live life to the fullest.

Imagine being at peace always. How wonderful life would be without any turmoil to eat away at us. We would always have inner strength. How beautiful life would be without any worry to paralyse us. We would always move forward with bold confidence. How exciting life would be without any anger to consume us. Every moment would be ours to enjoy. How blissful life would be without any guilt to beat us down. We would always be able to stand tall, yet we could do so in complete humility. How blessed it would be to have true peace!

The good news is this. In Christ Jesus, true peace is already ours!

Jesus Christ fulfilled the entire law for us and conferred His keeping of the law on us so that there is nothing of which we stand guilty before God. Jesus Christ came not to condemn us in anger but to forgive us and to offer us that same forgiving spirit in place of our anger. Jesus Christ offers a life that is eternal to every believer in Him so that we need never worry about being short changed. Jesus Christ has given us a new purpose in this life and has replaced turmoil with joy.

In Jesus, the One born in Bethlehem, we have peace. That is why the angels declared as they did on the day when He was born, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests”. The birth of Jesus was nothing less than the fulfilling of God’s plan to re-establish that peace that once existed between Himself and those upon whom He looks with His favour.

That includes you! You too are one of His favoured people. Have a peace-filled Advent and Christmas!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2016:  Baby on Board+ Expand

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

No doubt you’ve seen them too—the caution signs that some people have in the rear windows of their cars that read “Baby on Board”. I must confess that I find them a little bit comical. Do these signs suggest that we do not need to be cautious of other cars that do not have any babies on board? And what if only seniors are on board? Does that allow us to be downright reckless? Clearly I am being a little facetious.

For the value of a life is not age dependent, nor can we measure it by some other standard. Every human life has equal worth. Yet, it seems that there are some who do not agree. Proponents of physician assisted suicide are proof of this. So are those who claim that it is alright to murder a child within the womb of its mother if it is not a wanted child. But since when do the emotions or feelings of some (such as parents) supersede the rights of other human beings to live?

The fact is that there is only One who has the right to end a life; and that is the Giver of life. Only God who gives life has the right to take it away.

And God considers every human being precious. To say it a different way, we are all, in the sight of God, precious babies on board. Whether we are a few days old or 101, whether we are athletic or developmentally challenged, whether we are black or white, male or female, poor or rich, handsome or plain. God desires us all. That’s what He declares in His Word. The Apostle Paul writes that God our Saviour “desires all people to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4). That is also why “He died for all” (II Cor. 5:15). Yes, all of us—we are all precious in the sight of the Lord.

However, as the above verse declares, especially precious to God are His saints—those who through faith in Christ Jesus have received the forgiveness of all of their sins. As the devil prowls around on this earth, seeking whom to devour, he is forced to pause when in the presence of believers. For God has placed His caution signs all around us, held firmly in the hands of His protecting angels.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

October 2016:  Time to Celebrate+ Expand

You know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

I know that it may sound cliché, but time sure flies. It’s hard to believe that we are already into the fall season. The days are noticeably shorter and cooler. Thanksgiving decorations are already up, and, to my chagrin, so are some Halloween decorations. And can you believe it, the church office is already receiving Christmas catalogues!. Then there is the rapidly growing number that marks my age. Sometimes it seems like I was 25 just last week. Where has the time gone? Before you know it...???

That’s the point of the Bible verse above. Whereas we may be inclined to believe that the time of our departure from this world is a distant future event, it will, without question, come upon us more quickly than we imagine. And when that day arrives, today will feel like it was just the week before. So use your time well. There may be no warning before that unknown hour arrives, when our Lord will call us from this world.

Why, just this past week, another one of our members was suddenly called out of this world. Not much more than a week before, he suspected nothing.

But please understand that when the Lord encourages us with the words of the above verse to be ready for that unknown day, He is not trying to frighten us into living our lives well, “or else”. Just the opposite! Look at the verse again. This Word of God speaks of our salvation being nearer to us now than before.

That’s the truth for every believer in Jesus Christ. The life of eternal joy and peace that awaits us is just around the corner. Like Christmas—even though it is a good thing—it will be here sooner than you wish.

So wake up! Get ready! Begin the celebration! Do the work that God has given you while there is still time, before the hour comes when no one can work. “For [our] salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”

Pastor Richard A. Frey

September 2016:  Steer Clear!+ Expand

Flee from sexual immorality. (I Corinthians 6:18)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Although it may no longer be in the headlines on a daily basis, the Zika virus is still making the news. According to an August 26, 2016 Canadian Press article, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now wants all U.S. blood centres to start screening for Zika, It seems that there is much uncertainty and concern regarding the extent of the spread of the virus.

Of course, as a precaution, people are also still being advised not to visit areas where the mosquito-borne virus is known to exist. Accordingly, many people are steering clear of known Zika infected areas.

If only we would understand that this “steering clear” principle also applies to matters pertaining to our spiritual health. If we find ourselves weakened in faith and struggling with sin, perhaps it is because we aren’t doing the obvious. Perhaps it is because we are frequenting areas where sin is known to exist rather than steering clear of such places. God’s Word declares, “Flee from sexual immorality”. In other words, run from where it exists and avoid those places where you may be exposed to sexual immorality’s infection. Is it in the jokes you tell, the novels you read, the shows you watch or the music you listen to? If so, then steer clear!

And this applies not only to the sin of sexual immorality, but to all sins. As the apostle writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed”. For like the Zika virus, sins of all sorts, whether in deed or in thought, pose a threat to those who come into contact with them.

Therefore, steer clear of sin by doing the opposite of visiting those places where it might be found. In the letter to the Philippians, we read, “Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. The apostle is talking about God’s Word. This is our safe place. Immerse yourselves in it. For by doing so, we automatically steer clear of that which is dangerous.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

July & August 2016: Beware!+ Expand

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. (I John 2:18)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Barak Obama, Adolf Hitler, Pope Francis, Mikhail Gorbachev, Napoleon Bonaparte, Nero and Saddam Hussein; what do all of these have in common? Add to these: Rome, the USSR, the papacy, freemasonry and the European Union. Have you figured it out yet? All of these, and many others, have, at one time or another, been accused of being the antichrist. So which of these do you suppose fits the bill?

Barak Obama will soon be off of the world stage and so seems an unlikely contender. In the wake of the Brexit vote, it seems less likely than before that the weakening EU is the villain. Many others on the list have died or ceased to exist, and so clearly no longer qualify for a modern day antichrist. Is it one of the remaining few or is it someone else yet to come?

Shall I speculate on this some more? That is not the point of the verse above.

It doesn’t really matter if we are able to rightly identify the antichrist. Far more important is that we are aware that there are opponents of Christ at work in the world, who are eager to tear us away from our Saviour.

These are those of whom we need to be aware. Every person and organization that does not confess Christ is anti (opposed to) Christ. As the verse above declares, there are “many antichrists”. And, a little later in John’s first letter, he says just that. “He who denies that Jesus is the Christ… is the antichrist”. There is not just one ultra sinister person for whom we need to be on the outlook. Rather we must be alert at all times for there are many who seek our demise.

Therefore, don’t be taken in by a popular politician or a revered religious leader, nor assume that a harmonious nation or a successful economic union is God-blessed. Rather, in this last hour, weigh everything against the Word of God, which confesses Christ Jesus as the living Lord and only Saviour of the world.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

June 2016: Rich in Christ+ Expand

You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. (II Corinthians 8:9)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

We live in a competitive and “me first” society. People strive to get ahead, oftentimes at the expense of others. No one wishes to be last—no one, that is, except Jesus, the Saviour of mankind.

When Jesus entered into the world, He willingly set aside all the advantages that were His and chose last place. Although He is God, He took upon Himself the lowliness of a mortal man. Jesus exchanged His glory for shame. He gave up heavenly wealth for earthly poverty. Jesus chose to be such a man as would be pushed, shoved and beaten down. As the apostle wrote, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross

But here is a wonderful thing! In the defeat of death, Jesus was victorious. We, who strive for success, sometimes at the expense of others, often fail. But He, who humbly sought last place, is today the holy and victorious One.

This is because, by His holy life and humble death, Jesus made payment for the sin of the whole world. He never sinned, but nonetheless He suffered the consequences of sin in order to make satisfaction for our sin before His Father and ours. Having accomplished this, He received again the honour, power and majesty that are rightly His. The reason therefore for Christ’s poverty, suffering and death was to take upon Himself our sin and its consequence which we all deserve. For all who look to Jesus and trust in Him, death, sin’s punishment, is no more.

Therefore, if you really want to get ahead—eternally ahead—don’t look to your own accomplishments. If ultimate success is your hope, look to the accomplishment of Jesus. For in the work of the now exalted Christ is eternal victory for all who believe in Him. We have been made rich by Him who for our sakes became poor.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

May 2016: That's a Promise!+ Expand

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. (Matthew 24:7)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Almost 600 confirmed dead in Ecuador as a result of the April 16th earthquake, close to 50 dead in Japan after an earthquake there just hours earlier, and eight drowned motorists in Houston’s flood. These human suffering stories are among those that made the headlines last week. Sadly there are many more.

So what does it all mean? Some would be quick to point out the verse above from Matthew 24. When speaking of the time of His return, Jesus spoke of wars, famines, earthquakes and more. Are these tragedies therefore a sign of His imminent return?

Before we jump to conclusions, it would be wise to take a look at the past. Even a cursory examination of history allows us to see that wars, famines and earthquakes have been a part of every era from the time of Christ up until today. As a result, many notable Christians throughout the centuries gone by were convinced that Jesus would return during their lifetimes. Why, even the apostles thought that Christ could return during their lifetime.

That’s the point of the Christ’s words. His words encourage Christians from every age to always remain prepared. According to them, He could return at any time.

The signs leading up to His return have always been among us, and every time one of these signs slaps us in the face, we are reminded of His promise to return. To say it differently, Christ has attached His good news to the world’s bad news. By using the tragedies of this world as signs preceding His return, He has attached the promise of that new and eternal kingdom that He will give to His people upon His return to every human tragedy, so that when one slaps us in the face, there might also be hope.

Even in Ecuador, where 600 lie dead, where thousands are injured and where countless more are without food and shelter, God’s people can know that Jesus, who forewarned of us of such tragedies, will receive His own into His perfect kingdom and will return one day soon to deliver us from this valley of tears. The end is on its way. And for those who believe in Jesus, that’s not a threat. It’s a promise!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

April 2016: Life in Christ+ Expand

He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (II Corinthians 5:15)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Finally”, she thinks to herself, as she steps up to the altar. “We made it. The invitations, hall, pre-marriage classes, wedding gown, decorations, cake, table favours, rehearsal are all behind us. It was a lot of work, but that’s okay. It’s over! And my wedding day is here. We're here!”

But then a second thought crosses her mind, as she hears the pastor say something about commitment. She asks herself, “Here? Where's here? Why, the work is not over! This is just the beginning, and the real work is about to start.”

Friends, that’s how it is with other things also. As Christians, mistakenly, we often view the manger as the beginning of things, Christ’s ministry as the middle and the cross and empty tomb as the end. But is that really so? Are not the cross of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter really more of a beginning than an end? After all, did Jesus die only so that He could say: “It is finished!”; or was it His hope that the beauty of the forgiveness of sins, which He won on the cross, would offer a new beginning for many? Similarly, the resurrection is not just the happy ending of a tragic story. It is more properly a new beginning. It is the beginning of the life that is offered to us by Jesus, the Victor over death.

All too often we forget this. We see the cross and Easter’s empty tomb, and we think we’re there. We believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and we assume that our faith in these events is the end of our spiritual travels. In fact, this faith is only the beginning of our travels.

As God in the verse above declares, “He died for all...” Why? “…that those who live might believe?” No! Rather, “…that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” That’s the reason Jesus died—that we might live for and with Him, here and now, as well as forever.

This Easter season, let us remember the reason for Christ's work. It began with His birth, death and resurrection, but still continues. Jesus wants us as His own. Let us rejoice in the life He has given us, and let us use it in service of one another and to the praise of His glory.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

March 2016: Yo-yo Christians?+ Expand

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

As I sit here looking for some inspiration in the writing of my Pastor’s Message, one of those Asian ladybugs is crawling across my desk. The poor thing (if you can call those orange coloured imposters “poor”) is probably confused. They usually come out as the weather warms up. But this year, the weather has been up and down as often as a yo-yo.

Sort of like some of us when it comes to our walk of faith. One moment we are strong, the next just barely hanging on. At least that’s the way it often is for me. There are times when I feel solid in my faith – as if nothing could ever shake my confidence in Christ. At other times however, I wonder whether I even dare call myself a Christian. It’s not just that temptations are filling up my head, but worse, that I want them to stay and find pleasure in them. Then, by the grace of God, He rescues me so that I am again eager to live as a holy child of God. Just like a yo-yo.

So how should I describe myself? Am I a child of faith or a son of unbelief? I would like to suggest that I am both. But not in a yo-yo sort of way, where at one moment I am up and the next down in my faith. If that were the case, I would have something to worry about, namely that the Lord may return, not at a time when I am up in faith, but, at a time when I have fallen into unbelief. Rather, I would like to suggest that I am both a man of faith and a man of unbelief at the same time.

According to my inherited, sinful nature, I find myself in league with the devil and the world, inclined toward – even bent in – unbelief. But by God’s Spirit working in me, I have faith. As a result, I find myself identifying with the father mentioned in the verse above.

This father, who was seeking help for his son from Jesus, and who had been told by Jesus, “All things are possible for one who believes” had cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Like me, this father believed in Jesus. Like me, this father was filled with doubts.

But here is the wonderful thing. Jesus did not turn to the man and tell him that he would have to wait until his yo-yo like faith was on the upswing before He would help him. Rather Jesus healed his son. For in the end, it is not just healing that comes from Jesus, even the faith that we have is a gift to us from God. And His gifts are not at all like the weather or like ladybugs which come and go. Our Lord is faithful whether we are up or down.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

February 2016: Resurrection People+ Expand

Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (II Corinthians 3:16)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

In just a few more days, we will be entering the season of Lent once again. Lent is that season that is often filled with sombre reflections on the suffering and humiliation endured for us by our Saviour Jesus Christ. As a result, it is in the season of Lent that many people choose to deny themselves certain pleasures. “What are you giving up for Lent?” is a question often heard at this time of the year. After all, if Jesus gave His life for me, then surely I can give up something for Jesus.

This year, however, as we approach the Lenten season, I would like to encourage you to focus your attention on that which lies beyond the passion of Christ. Of course, you know what that is. Beyond Christ’s suffering and beyond His dying lies the empty tomb. Let us never forget that. God’s final message to us is not one of denial and death, but of life and victory.

Therefore, it is impossible for us to reflect on the sufferings of Christ, except through the lens of the empty tomb of Jesus. We are the people of God living in the light of Christ’s glorious resurrection.

For this reason, Lent should never be a time of weeping or sadness. That is not to say that we may not be filled with sorrowful remorse for our sins. Indeed, our sins should grieve us. However, let our grief always be for ourselves and not for Jesus, as if He was an unfortunate victim.

That’s not what Lent is about. Rather, Lent shows us the powerful love of Jesus. It shows us His strength and resolve. It is proof of His mercy and grace. And all of these are the more evident still when viewed from this side of the empty tomb. For us, the veil has been removed. Sadness has been turned into joy. Peace and hope have replaced fear and anguish. And in repentant gratitude for these His gifts to us, we confess our sins and solemnly vow to do better.

For we are God’s resurrection people. No longer do we cling to the things of death, namely sin and suffering. Rather we walk in the knowledge of Christ’s forgiveness and the newness of His righteousness. All this in thanksgiving to Him for His loving passion and with the courage that His resurrection affords!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

January 2016: Reflections on a Special Year+ Expand

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

No doubt, you have felt this way too. Someone asked you, “What’s new?” and you felt put on the spot because you weren’t immediately able to think of anything new. So why do we feel that way? Are we afraid that if we answer the question with “Nothing”, others will think that our lives are boring and uneventful? New is not always good. If you and your family are healthy, if your finances are secure, if you enjoy your God-given vocations and if your soul is at peace in Christ, who wants new? Not me!

This past year at St. Paul’s, “new” was not on the menu – at least not in a significant way. Our worship services continued as before, with a 2% increase in attendance over the previous year. Bible classes were held as before. Sunday School attendance increased marginally. Contributions remained unchanged, and thanks to a disbursement of surplus funds from the district CEF, our yearend bank balance remained in the black. Our elected boards continued to meet. Our choir again sang the praises of God in our worship services, while others sang them in the nursing home. Our women’s group remained constant in its support of missions, while other ladies actively sewed quilts. A mission team travelled to Nicaragua once again. And although our youth group wound down and we chose to take a recess from offering VBS, many other activities continued as before, making 2015 a year like many others.

Yes, the year of 2015, like so many others, was a year of God’s grace. Although a mystery to many in the world, the love of God in Christ Jesus was again proclaimed in our midst throughout the year gone by. While many languish in guilt, shame and regrets, we enjoyed the good news of God’s forgiveness from the start of the year to its finish. Whereas the majority on this planet live in fear of the wrath of God, we were never without the joy of eternal life. And while some struggled with loneliness, the opportunity for fellowship with other Christians was always at our doorstep. None of these gifts were new to us. But let us not confuse that which is familiar with what is undesirable or mundane. God’s gracious gifts to us in 2015 were very special.

May He grant us many more years like the one just gone by!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

December 2015: Christmas Treasure+ Expand

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

I am a little embarrassed to admit that this past Thursday night, I was up until after three in the morning. I was at my computer, trying to purchase a dishwasher at an online Black Friday sale that had begun at midnight. Unfortunately, because of the high Black Friday traffic volume, the web site kept crashing, and the transaction that should have taken minutes turned into hours. Thankfully however, my order finally went through and I saved hundreds of dollars. But, was it worth it? It seems that I am willing to sacrifice quite a bit in order to hang onto a little bit more of my earthly treasure.

So how much am I willing to sacrifice for the heavenly treasure won for me by Jesus Christ? When was the last time I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, immersed in God’s Word or fervent in prayer, in the hope of growing spiritually? I am ashamed to say that the last time may have been when I was a teenager.

Thankfully however, there is One who spends many hours in prayer on my behalf—and on your behalf. Jesus, according to St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, is at the right hand of God interceding for us. Jesus is our mediator before God the Father. He is also the One who, according to the writers of the Gospels, spent many a late night in prayer while all were asleep. Moreover, this is the One whose entire earthly life was sacrificially dedicated to obtaining for us an eternal heavenly treasure.

Soon it will be Christmas, that time of the year when we, with joy, remember the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. And while the day is for us one filled with images of mistletoe, eggnog, a warm family dinner, gifts under a tree and a peaceful baby in a manger, we should never forget that the first Christmas was for Jesus a beginning of a lengthy time of sacrifice.

It was not for a few hours in the early morning, nor even for a few days, but His entire life was dedicated with great pride and sacrifice to purchasing something far more valuable than a dishwasher. On the blackest Friday of all, the transaction begun on Christmas day was finally completed. The payment He offered for the world’s redemption was accepted. The treasure was now His.

You and I are that treasure. You and I are always on the mind and in the heart of Jesus. What a wonder! Merry Christmas!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2015: Testimony+ Expand

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

A sceptic might ask, “If the Bible really is true, then why don’t we see evidence for the world’s creation or for Noah’s flood or other Biblical events? Why does all of the evidence point to a world that evolved?” In today’s era of mass media disinformation, these are the types of questions that are hurled at Bible-believers daily. The answer to such questions is quite simply this: Evidence for creation, Noah’s Flood and other Biblical events is everywhere, but it is not reported as such by mainstream secular sources.

In other words, the questions are misleading. They suggest, first of all, that there is no evidence to support Biblical truth, and second that an abundance of evidence in support of evolution exists. Neither is in fact true.

Take for example a recent Associated Press (AP) article posted on the Guardian website. This article is a perfect example of how evidence can be hidden and presented in a completely dishonest way. In the article, the AP reports the discovery of fossilized hadrosaur bones found along Alaska’s Colville River. The article is referring to the work of a team of scientists who wrote in a 2010 paper, “The hadrosaurid remains... show little evidence of weathering, predation, or trampling, and are typically uncrushed and unpermineralized” Now, when scientists say that bones are “unpermineralized,” what they mean is that we are not dealing with fossils, but comparatively ‘fresh’ dinosaur bones. But herein lies the difficulty for those of an evolutionary, anti-Scriptural bent. Even under the most ideal conditions, these bones could not have remained unfossilized in a bone bed dated as 69 million years old by the authors of the scientific paper.

Moreover, this phenomenon has been cropping up again and again in recent years, with the find of red blood cells, flexible tissue, proteins and DNA inside dinosaur bones stunning the scientific world. Under an evolutionary timeline, all of these things should have decayed or disintegrated long ago. Yet, rather than simply admitting that the evidence contradicts their worldview, most evolutionary scientists evade the problem.

The time has therefore arrived for us to ask, "If modern secular science really is true, then why don’t we see evidence for the evolution of the world? Why does all of the evidence point to a world that was created?”

Pastor Richard A. Frey

(some of the above is taken from October 2015 “Media bias hides the significance of Alaskan hadrosaur finds”)

October 2015: Time to Vote+ Expand

A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor... By justice a king builds up the land. (Proverbs 28:16; 29:4)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

In roughly three weeks, Canadians will be going to the polls to elect a new government. But with the parties as close as they are in the election race, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will form the next government. For, while many have already decided how they will cast their votes, others are still undecided.

So what will it take to win them over? Will it be new tax credits for seniors and first time home buyers, promises to hire more police officers and health care professionals, or how about lower EI premiums and income tax rates? Have you noticed anything about these and most of the other election promises made by the three major political parties? Or perhaps the better question is, have you noticed anything missing from their election promises? As usual, the prime contenders in the electoral race are steering clear of addressing issues of morality and ethics. And why is that? Because it is commonly believed that addressing these issues will not win many over. Instead, taking a stand on matters of righteousness will, in the opinion of the political pundits, lose one an election.

Now it would be easy to criticize those running in the election for not addressing such weighty matters as the right to life for every Canadian. After all, the lives of more than 100,000 unborn children are ended each year in Canada and most politicians go to great lengths to avoid the issue altogether. But let us not be too hasty at pointing the finger. After all, we are the ones who often cast our votes for that party that is offering us the greatest economic advantage instead of for that party with the truest moral compass. While the hopeful leaders of our land cannot be let off the hook for their political jockeying, we too must admit that by our silence on matters of righteousness, we give those running for office the impression that pennies in our pocket matter more to us than does justice for the oppressed. They are only offering us what they believe we desire.

So let us put the onus on ourselves. Let us speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Let us proclaim that questions of right and wrong – of life and death matter more than anything else, and that we desire compassionate and righteous leaders. This election, let us vote according to our consciences, not according to our pocket books.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

September 2015: Ridiculous Jesus?+ Expand

The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Imagine, if you would, the following ridiculous scenario. You have just robbed a bank at my coaxing, using a foolproof, zero-risk plan that I devised. However, you have been caught. It seems that my plan was not that foolproof or secure after all. And as a result, you have sued me, claiming that I have ruined your reputation and life. Ridiculous? It sure is.

But so is the class action lawsuit filed in Canada against Ashley Madison for their failure to protect sensitive user information. How absurd that those who have cheated on their spouses or were hoping to commit a shameful, immoral act should sue the organization that put the idea before them. That is as ludicrous as one criminal suing another for a poorly devised plan.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting that Ashley Madison bears no responsibility in all of this. They should be held accountable for their disgraceful luring of men and women to their depraved website and the sinful lifestyle it promotes. However, how can the one who has broken his marriage contract through an act of infidelity, or who is hoping to break it, blame another for his broken marriage or his ruined life?

What a twisted world in which we live! And what is more twisted still is that the grievance against Ashley Madison is not primarily for luring women and men to commit shameful deeds. Most people, including the plaintiffs, seem quite content with the service offered by the website. Instead, the lawsuit is for failing to keep the whole sleazy mess hush hush. And therein lies the sad twist in this pass the buck affair.

The same is true of the world’s first pass the buck affair. Adam tried to hide it from God, and when discovered, he blamed another—the woman. But notice, that in addition to Eve, Adam also blamed God. He said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me.” So while Adam acknowledged the committing of a sin, he tried to pass the blame for it to the woman and to God for sending her into his life.

But here is the amazing thing. God accepted the blame. Although payment would not be made for many years, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, allowed judgment to be passed against Himself for Adam’s sin and for every other sin to come—even the shameful ones we try to hide. Lawyers and lawsuits were not required. Ridiculously amazing? It sure is!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

July & August 2015: Money & Time Well Spent+ Expand

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

I had to do a double take. Had I heard correctly? Did the news reporter really say upwards of 500 million dollars? Yes, that was the application fee he reported for one of the new NHL franchises likely to be offered for the 2017/2018 season. And that’s just for the privilege of doing business. After that, like all of the other teams, the franchise would need an arena that could cost just as much and would need to pay the salaries of its players, some of which are in excess of 10 million dollars a year. I am constantly amazed at the amount of money available so that we might be entertained.

At the same time, funds to care for the vulnerable in society are often in short supply – unless, of course, there is money to be made by doing so. What worries me, and no doubt you too, is that one day we will likely be in need of additional support. Will there be funds available to care for all of us; and what of those who need additional support right now?

James, in his epistle, speaks to this issue. He writes, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”. As Christians, we know that our status as children of God is a gift from God, conferred upon us by Him. We don’t earn that status. Forgiveness is also God’s gift to us through faith in Christ Jesus, as is eternal life. As a result, there are sadly many Christians who believe that there is no need to live any differently than the rest of the world. But James, in the verse just cited, begs to differ. In essence, he is challenging us to put our money where our mouth is – to live a life that reflects the religion that we embrace.

We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ, in love, substituted Himself for us. He lived a perfect life in place of our sinful ones and died an excruciating death to pay for those sins.

In thanksgiving to Him for His service, He now calls on us to serve one another. He calls on us to use our wealth not just for our own entertainment, but also to care for others. And, if we do not have the money to help the vulnerable, we can still make a difference with our hands, our feet and our time. And by the way, if we all charged for our time, there is no doubt that the fee would be well in excess of one half of a billion dollars.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

June 2015: Believe in Whom?+ Expand

Then he ... said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30 - 31)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

This past week I watched a supposedly Christian movie. It was about a man called to be the pastor of a struggling church in a rundown neighbourhood of Atlanta. What a disappointment!

While the movie proclaimed through word and song the importance of “believing”, never once were movie watchers directed to believe in God, let alone in Jesus Christ. There was no mention of Christ crucified, the forgiveness of sins or eternal life. Instead the movie proclaimed ad nauseum the importance of having a positive self image and “believing” in yourself.

As a result, the movie was not only void of a Christian message, it was blatantly anti-Christian. Cults do a better job of cloaking the Gospel in Christian terminology than this ‘feel good about yourself and everything will be okay’ – ‘believe in yourself and you will prosper’ movie. In the end, the movie directed its watchers to find the solution to all of their troubles within themselves.

That’s the problem with so much of today’s religiosity. It focuses on our ability to handle the situation—on our ability to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Instead of being about believing in Jesus, it’s about our ability to believe. Instead of being about Jesus, it’s about us.

How different than that which true Christianity teaches. When the Philippian jailer, in the verse above, sought help, Paul did not tell him to help himself. Instead of charging him to BELIEVE (that is to get it right), Paul directed him to believe in THE LORD JESUS (that is in Him who got it right for us). Jesus—that’s what true Christianity has always been about.

It’s never been about our faith; it’s always been about Jesus. You and I could have all of the faith in the world, but without Jesus, that faith would have no value. We would still be in our sins. We would still die eternally. But Jesus changes everything. He is the solution. Behold Him. Rest your eyes on Him. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

May 2015: A Cause for Concern+ Expand

The day of the Lord will come like a thief ... and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved ... But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (II Peter 3:10, 13)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

The weather sure has been erratic lately. Many attribute this to climate change, brought on by the mismanagement of the globe by human beings. Perhaps they are right. And perhaps, as they suggest, we should all be deeply concerned.

Climate change is a matter of great concern, especially for those who believe that the world is billions of years old. Those who deny the Bible have good reason to be concerned about recent changes in weather patterns. After all, if the climate has remained relatively unchanged for such long ages, then any noticeable change in a short period of time suggests that an established equilibrium has been destroyed. If that's the case, we all should be alarmed.

On the other hand, if, as Christians believe, the world is young, climate change is not as alarming. After all, that would mean that the climate has been changing relatively quickly all along. In the span of perhaps only 6000 years, the earth would have experienced a global tropical climate (as is attested by the discovery of many “tropical” fossils in arctic regions, the Sahara Desert and elsewhere), an ice age and other climate deviations. If that is the case, today's climate change could be but a continuation of a climate in a constant state of flux.

Moreover, unlike those of an evolutionary bent, Christians believe that the earth, in its current sin-stained state, is here for only a short period of time. Christians believe, as the Scriptures declare, that the earth and every celestial body in the universe will be destroyed by the Lord Himself. Thereafter, He will create a new perfect heaven and earth.

The greater concern for believers—greater than climate change—is therefore that which lies behind every unfavourable weather event, every destructive war and every ravaging disease on this planet. Human sin, including the sin of global mismanagement, is the cause of every calamity and all suffering. For this reason, as eager as some may be to manage the resources of the earth with care, Christians will be even more concerned to live lives of holiness and godliness.

Thankfully, when we fail, there is One who did not fail—Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord—who takes our place. By His work in our stead, the requirement of godliness has been fulfilled, our sin has been forgiven and we have His promise of new heavens and a new earth.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

April 2015: Oblivious+ Expand

Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, You know nothing at all, nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish. (John 11:49-50)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

What a week of contrasts! One moment the crowds were cheering Jesus on with shouts of “Hosanna in the highest” and, only five days later, they were out for His blood. But what's just as interesting as their fickle behaviour is that the two crowds, without knowing it, were actually calling out for the very same thing.

Let's consider first of all the word “Hosanna”. It is a word that means “Save us, we pray”. By calling out “hosanna”, the crowd was acknowledging the ability of Jesus to deliver them. But it is this deliverance that cost Jesus His very life. True, the crowds may have been thinking in terms of a political deliverance from the Romans with Jesus as a glorious king at the helm. But the reality is that in order for Jesus to answer the plea of the Palm Sunday crowd, He had to die. Unwittingly then, those that shouted out hosannas were calling for His death – for the crucifixion of Jesus.

The crucifixion of Jesus is also precisely what the Good Friday crowd was calling for. True, they were doing so out of envy, fear, greed, a lust for power and a host of other selfish motives. But the reality is, although they were unaware of it, they were demanding that Jesus save them. For that is exactly what the crucifixion of Jesus is all about.

Oblivious to the same truth, even the high priest, Caiaphas had declared that it would be better for one man to die for the people, rather than the whole nation to perish. No doubt, he too was thinking politically. No doubt, he feared the possibility of Roman intervention if Jesus, a person that some viewed as a troublemaker, was not disposed of. But as God's Word declares, without knowing it, he was actually prophesying that Jesus needed to die for the benefit of all people.

Friends, there are days when we also are oblivious to the work of salvation accomplished for us by Jesus. Frequently, by our sins we join those who cry out, “Crucify Him”. Often, in our desperation, we call out “Hosanna”. And thankfully, Jesus hears both of these our prayers. Thankfully, He allowed Himself to be crucified in order to deliver us from sin, death and eternal damnation.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

March 2015: Let Your Voice Be Heard+ Expand

Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Can you believe it! The radical Ontario sex education curriculum that angered parents in 2010 has remained unchanged, almost word for word, in the curriculum released on February 23 and proposed for implementation this fall. It contains just as many controversial elements at the same age-inappropriate grade levels as before, when it was written under the direction of confessed child pornographer Benjamin Levin, then Deputy Education Minister. The only difference now is that Kathleen Wynne has made the curriculum even more explicit and more age-inappropriate than before.

The mentions of sexual orientations have increased dramatically, the idea that being male or female is merely a social construct is still being pushed (according the new curriculum there are six genders), anal intercourse is presented as being normal, the seriousness of contracting HIV is downplayed and masturbation as a pleasurable way for children to learn about their bodies is encouraged. The new curriculum document also has a much stronger undertone of sex as a purely recreational activity apart from love or marriage. In fact, the words "love" and "marriage" never appear in the sex-education strands of the curriculum – not even once.

So, why do you suppose the current government is so determined to change the curriculum? You have heard the saying, “misery loves company”; well it seems that sin loves company too. “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” By forcing their ideology upon others – by normalizing what was once considered both morally and mentally destructive – Wynne and her government are soothing their own consciences. No wonder they are so determined. No wonder they are so entrenched.

Friends, if the forces of evil can unite with such determination, then so can and must the people of God. When God's people stood up in 2010, their voices were heard. The government of the day retracted its curriculum. The time has come to speak up again – to hold fast in the trenches. Let your voice be heard!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

February 2015: When Good News is No News at All + Expand

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Imagine stepping out of your car and having someone say to you, “Good news! You can buy gasoline here.” The remark seems odd to you, because it's mid afternoon and you're at a gas station. So where's the good news? What you don't know is that until moments ago, this remote gas station—the only one for miles—had been out of gasoline for days. Had the tanker truck not just brought in a new supply, you would have been stranded. Apart from that knowledge, the news of gasoline at a gas station hardly constitutes good news.

That's the way it is for some when the Good News of eternal life in Christ Jesus is shared with them. The good news, without the bad news, is for them no news at all. Many people are under the false impression that all is well. They believe that God is pleased with them and will grant them, at the conclusion of their earthly life, some sort of an eternal reward for the life that they have lived—a life free from an overabundance of gross misdeeds. Believing that God will reward them, news of Christ's gift of eternal life is no news at all.

No wonder then that so many cannot be bothered with Jesus. Who need's Him? He's like a man at a gas station telling customers that gasoline is available, even though they are already filling up their tanks. Such a man would be a nuisance. You certainly wouldn't thank him, nor would you break out in praise at his announcement. In the same way, Jesus is a nuisance to many.

Pray to Him? Take time to worship Him? Serve Him? Live according to His Word? Why bother? Things are fine the way they are.

This couldn't be farther from the truth. The truth, as the Scripture verse above declares, is that “the wages of sin is death”. Without Christ, every person who has sinned, even once, shall earn—actually, has already earned—eternal death. But there is good news in the midst of this bad news. Christ Jesus, our Lord, has assumed that death for us and gives eternal life to all who trust in Him!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

January 2015: The Privilege of Prayer + Expand

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (I Timothy 2:1)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

As members of the family of God, we have a responsibility to care for one another. When one member is hurting, the others are there to pick up the slack, to show concern, to support and to help. That is what family members do.

In Paul's letter to Timothy, the apostle expresses concern for some of the members his “family” who are falling away from the faith. The solution to his concern? He writes, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people”. This is no flimsy cop out—no halfhearted solution. He knows that the the first step in solving any problem is to take it to God. He also understands that God is even more concerned about those who depart from the faith than we are.

That is why, only a few verses after penning the words above, Paul says concerning the offering of prayers, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. This is also our motivation for praying, namely knowing that it is God-pleasing.

For this reason, we initiated, in the year gone by, a system of praying for the members of our church family, with the hope of praying for every member of the congregation during a twelve month period. As simple as that sounds, we managed to get bogged down. Sometimes, it was difficult to get in touch with families. Other times we were at fault. Our busy schedules or forgetfulness got in the way. Occasionally, prayer requests were not received by the pastor prior to the worship service. Even as I write this message, we are in a bit of a “prayer lull”. But, we are determined to get back to the joyful task of praying for one another.

Consider also the following. God has not called us to organize church potlucks, to hold committee meetings, to maintain a church building or even to publish an annual report. He has called us to hear His Word and receive His Sacraments, to love one another in word and deed, and to pray. This is our responsibility, our calling and our privilege. And if we believe that God answers prayer—as indeed He does—can you think of any better endeavour?

I give God thanks that the year of 2014 was a year of prayer. And trusting that God will honour our prayers, I look forward to His manifold blessings in the year ahead.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

December 2014: Advent + Expand

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law. (Galatians 4:4-5a)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Today marks the beginning of Advent and the beginning of a new year on the church calendar. The word “Advent” comes from a Latin word that means “coming” or “arrival”, reminding us that this season is a time to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, who came among us.

Our Advent season lasts at most four weeks. Compare that however to the four millennia that God's Old Testament people waited for the coming of the Messiah. God had promised them a Saviour, even already in the day of Adam and Eve, when they were still in the Garden of Eden. No doubt, there must have been times when God's people wondered about that promise and wavered in their faith. Our generation has seen a huge falling away from God in just a few years. How easy it is to get tired of waiting. Imagine waiting for 4000 years.

But God in His wisdom sent forth His Son according to His timing. When the fullness of time arrived, God sent forth the Saviour, just as He had promised. Today we remember that Saviour who came.

But, as we do, we, like the people of God in Old Testament times, still have cause to look forward in hope. For the Advent season gives us not only the opportunity to reflect on the Saviour's coming in Bethlehem, it also gives us the opportunity to remember that our Lord Jesus will come again in glory on the Last Day. We look forward to the fullness of salvation—to that total glory and joy which all who know Jesus will experience on the day of His second coming.

Advent reminds us not to grow weary as we look forward to that day. It reminds us to keep waiting, hoping, preparing and rejoicing. This year, as we decorate our homes in anticipation of His coming, as we light the candles of the Advent wreath to help us count the days, may our Advent prayer be that of the ancient church, “Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus!”

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2014: Why Bother? + Expand

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Another municipal election is behind us and the results are dismal. I'm not referring to the candidates who were elected. I'm referring to the voter turnout. Once again, a disappointing 30% - 40% of eligible voters exercised their right to vote. Why was the turnout so low? Why did so many not bother?

I suspect that some of those who chose not to vote would argue that their vote would have made no difference. Even if it had resulted in the election of a different candidate, taxes would still increase—nothing would change.

No doubt, some people use a similar argument when it comes to worship. “Why bother? What difference will my worship attendance make?” Experience has taught them that life is the same whether they worship or not. The lawns of those who worship are no greener than the lawns of those who do not worship, nor are their driveways filled with nicer cars, nor are they prone to fewer hardships. And in the end, everyone dies. “So why bother?” say those who choose not to worship.

Of course, these still claim faith in Christ, even as those who choose not to vote still claim to value the democratic process. Moreover, these still hope to receive from Christ the benefits of faith, especially eternal citizenship in heaven.

But unlike any government in Canada, which will not revoke a person's citizenship for failing to vote, our Lord Jesus does issue this word of warning to those who are indifferent toward worship, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Why such a harsh word from Jesus?

Our Lord knows that there is no greater enemy of His Church than apathy. As Edwin Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” Even as failing to care will give us a society in which the careless will lead us according to their whims, so will failing to worship give us a society in which the godless will lead our children and grandchildren into the waiting arms of the devil. There are many among the younger generation who already have little or no knowledge of Jesus, much less faith in Him as their Saviour. How Satan rejoices at our indifference.

So why bother?... to worship, that is? Because God commands it and because others—especially the next generation—need us to care!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

October 2014: Jesus is Enough + Expand

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It was a touching video—a three minute online clip that I watched thanks to a link that someone shared with me. It featured women standing before an interactive mirror, being assured of how appreciated they are. How easy it is to feel inadequate or even ugly in this world. How precious to be told otherwise. However, there was something about the video that just didn't feel right.

It was the conclusion. The women interacting with the mirror were, in the end, encouraged to affirm, vocally and loudly, that they are enough just the way they are. So what's wrong with that? At first blush, nothing. In fact, it seems a rather noble thing to affirm people in the way that they think about themselves. However, then it dawned on me. Saying “I'm enough” is no different than declaring “I'm OK, You're OK” or “You should feel good about yourself” or “You need to learn to forgive yourself”.

All of these statements direct us to view ourselves as self-sufficient, self-made people, capable of absolving ourselves of guilt. They are declarations about ourselves that we hope, by virtue of having put them forth, will work— will actually cause us to be enough, OK, forgiven, etc.

As Christians, however, we understand that this is far from reality. We understand that while it is easy enough to say self-affirming things, it is just as easy to doubt them thereafter. We can never be sure that what we declare about ourselves will actually come to pass just because we said it. The truth of the matter is that we are not self-sufficient. We are unable to forgive ourselves or declare ourselves adequate before others. This must come from outside of ourselves—this must come from God Himself.

And it does—rather, it did. Christ Jesus came to earth for this very purpose. He came to take away our inadequacies, our faults and our ugliness. It is alright to confess that we are not enough, for Jesus came to take our sin upon Himself and to give us in its place a new inner beauty—His very own righteous life lived for us. And the price He paid for these—His own blood—was enough!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

September 2014: Growing Season Is Here + Expand

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It has been said by some that Canada has two official seasons, winter and construction. For us as St. Paul's, that may actually be true this year. Summer is almost over and we still do not have our parking lot back.

Be that as it may, there is a season for every activity under heaven, and although the road construction in front of our building is still dragging on, the time has come for us to move back to our regular schedule. While the more relaxed pace offered by the summer months is always a welcome thing, the blessings of a fuller church schedule are more desirable still.

With the arrival of the fall season comes increased opportunities for spiritual growth. Our Sunday and midweek Bible studies resume, fellowship and service activities get underway again, and many of us are reminded of our need for regular spiritual nourishment.

Oddly, as we close in on the end of what most of us would call the growing season, a growing season of a different sort begins. It is a growing season in which the growth that is experienced is not always clearly visible. Oftentimes the growth is in the inward spirit. At other times the growth is in acts of love that go unnoticed by others. Then there is even that growth in childlike faith—the very sort of faith commended by our Lord—that is viewed by some as regression instead of the growth that it really is.

None of this should deter us from embracing the opportunities for growth that the fall season affords. Growing season has arrived again. Take advantage of the opportunities for spiritual growth offered at St. Paul's. Be proactive. And dedicate yourselves anew to prayer and the study of God's Word in your homes. Be deliberate. Allow the Lord to do His construction work in your heart, and you will experience the growth that He gives.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

July & August 2014: Grand Shame + Expand

Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

The headlines declare, Grand Pride Wedding sees 110 couples wed”. Referring to a mass wedding for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples, held at Casa Loma Castle in Toronto on June 26, 2014, the newspaper article goes on to describe this grand “celebration” in glowing terms, with words such as amazing and historic.

Surprised? Should we be? God speaks of these things in His Word. Almost 2000 years ago, the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, warns of men and women dishonouring their bodies... women exchanging natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and men likewise giving up natural relations with women... consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men”. Moreover, as the verse above declares, “though they know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them”. Indeed it has come to pass, even as God said it would.

That which God declares an abomination and which all, in the honesty of their inner being, know to be sin has been declared by those who practice such things a grounds for pride—grand pride in celebration of WorldPride. And it is being declared so with such intensity and force that those who dare to speak otherwise are made to feel ashamed for that which they believe. How twisted our world has become! Those who ought to feel shame are proud and those who strive to uphold truth and purity are made to feel ashamed.

But let this be known. The truth is not something to be determined by popular vote. It remains true despite what 110 couples do, and despite what you, I or other Canadians believe. And the truth, as established by the One to whom we owe our existence, is and will always be this, that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

June 2014: A Friend in High Places + Expand

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 7:34)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

You have likely heard it said, “it's not what you know but who you know”. This statement could not be more true for any people than it is for Christians.

After all, Christians often define themselves as believers in Christ Jesus, or as people who know Jesus and who are known by Him. This knowing of—this faith in—Jesus, and not any other knowledge is what Christians place their hope of salvation upon. As Scripture declares, “This is eternal life, that they know … Jesus Christ”. Jesus Himself testifies, “I know My own and My own know Me... and I give them eternal life”.

It is with this in mind that I would like to draw your attention to a special festival on the church's calendar. This Thursday (May 29) is Ascension Day—the day on which Christians celebrate the ascending of Jesus into heaven.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He did so not to retire from His work. To the contrary, Jesus ascended for the purpose of continuing to serve us. According to the verse above, Jesus is seated at the right hand of our heavenly Father, where He intercedes for us. In other words, He is pleading our case before heaven's courtroom and presenting our petitions before the heavenly judge.

And why should we expect to be heard? Because of our holy deeds, our wealth, our wisdom or some other ability that we have to justify ourselves before God? No! It's not what we know but who we know. We have a friend in high places—Jesus, “the mediator between God and men”.

What this means for us on a day to day, practical level is that those who know Jesus—who believe in Him as their Lord and Saviour—can be confident that their prayers will always be heard. While Christ's death offers believers in Jesus the forgiveness of sins and while His resurrection from the grave gives Christians the assurance of eternal life, His ascension to the right hand of the Father's throne gives those who know Him the confidence that He will, in the mean time, help them along life's way.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

April 2014: Never Missing + Expand

Where shall I flee from Your presence? … If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me? (Psalm 139:7b, 9-10a)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It has been three weeks and the mystery continues. As I sit writing this article, news reports are coming in saying that those searching for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 may have found debris from the aircraft. Even if this turns out to be the case, other questions will remain unanswered, namely how it went down and why it was so far off its flight course. We may never have all the answers.

On the other hand, it is no mystery to God. He understands all things. He also never loses track of us.

That being the case, why did Flight MH370 disappear and why has tragedy likely befallen its 239 passengers? Did God allow it? No doubt, relatives of the passengers of Flight MH370 are asking this question.

It seems to be human nature—to blame God when things go wrong. We all demand the right to make our own choices. Yet, when someone else (who like us insists on the same right) chooses to do wrong or to be careless, resulting in an accident, we blame God for not intervening.

We can’t have it both ways. While God indeed knows all things, He allows us the freedom to choose. He does not control our every move; He does not prevent us from making poor and sinful choices.

He does however promise to be there for us, wherever our sins or the sins of others lead us. That is the very reason Jesus came to live among us—so that He could be with us in our trouble. And while among us, instead of getting rid of our sinful choices or those who choose them—us—He paid the penalty for our sin. He also suffered as a result of the sinful choices of others.

Moreover, Jesus is still with us today wherever our sins or the sins of others lead us. In other words, He was with the passengers of Flight MH370 on March 8th, even as He is there whenever a soul leaves this earthly life behind.

God does not lose track of us. It is utterly impossible to fall off of His radar. And for those who believe in Him, that means a safe arrival whatever the journey!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

March 2014: How Much Longer? + Expand

O Lord! How long will it be? (Psalm 90:13)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Are you tired of the white stuff yet? It sure has been a long, cold and snowy winter. And to make matters worse, the forecast is for more of the same. Of course, spring will eventually arrive and when it does, the lush green grass and the colourful flowers will look nothing at all like the present wintery tundra. What a wonderful transformation that will be! In the mean time, no doubt, a few of you are wondering, as am I, “How much longer?”

As Christians, we may find ourselves asking the same question, “How much longer?” How much longer until the harsh coldness of the world is replaced with the eternal warmth of God’s perfect love? How much longer until sorrow is replaced with joy, hurt with happiness and disappointment with ecstasy?

Moreover, how can we even be certain that the perfect life promised by Jesus will actually come about? Even at the best of times it’s possible to have some doubts; when times are rough, it can be more difficult still.

Toward the end of Christ’s ministry on earth, the disciples found themselves at such a time. Opposition to Christ was on the increase; their faith was being challenged. They needed some reassurance. Therefore Christ offered it. Taking them to a mountain top, He was transfigured before them. His appearance became radiant; Moses and Elijah appeared in their midst; our heavenly Father spoke to Jesus out of a cloud; the disciples saw a glimpse of heaven and longed for more. They grew in their faith.

The disciples needed that sneak preview of heaven. So did we. While we all know that winter is followed by spring—we’ve experienced it many times before—the transfiguration of Jesus, which we are celebrating today, shows us a far greater transformation. It shows us that as certain as spring follows winter, so will the joys of heaven follow the labours of this life.

When will this be? How much longer? Only God knows. But know this, God will do it!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

February 2014: United as the Beloved of Christ + Expand

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

For 24 years, I have happily begun my messages with the above greeting, and no doubt many of you have been glad to receive the same greeting. But today as I write this message, while still enjoying some warm weather to the south and having just returned from another successful mission trip to Nicaragua, I cannot but help also having our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua in mind as I open this message with the same endearing greeting. Truly, you are my beloved friends in Christ, but so are many in the land of Nicaragua—a land so different than our own.

And the differences are not difficult at all to discover. These include the language - Spanish instead of English. Of course, there is also the weather, which was sunny and above 30 degrees throughout our January stay. How interesting it was to speak with our Nicaraguan friends about the snow and the cold. Some of them had never heard of a furnace and could not understand why we would need refrigerators during the cold winter months. Then there is the standard of living. Nicaragua is a very poor country compared to Canada. After eating an eight dollar meal at a restaurant, one of our translators shared with me that most people in Nicaragua could never afford to eat in such a high-priced place. When I told him that my wife and I recently received a $100 gift card to a more expensive restaurant in Canada and that the card was not enough to cover the cost of the meal for the two of us, he was completely taken aback. Of course, beyond all of the obvious differences, there are many more subtle differences - in culture and mannerisms - most of which I am but beginning to understand.

Yet despite these differences, there is a beautiful fellowship and a powerful unitedness that we share with our Lutheran brothers and sisters in Nicaragua. What a joy it was to experience that once again! Though separated by thousands of miles, language and culture, the common hope that we share in Christ was and is obvious to those of us who were privileged enough to travel to this far away country. Our missionary team was truly blessed in this common hope. So were our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters in the Lord. Through us, they were blessed by the support that they received from us. Through them we were blessed by the honour they bestowed upon us for our desire to help with the proclamation of the Gospel in Nicaragua. Through them, we were also encouraged by their growing and youthful church so eager to receive the Gospel; while through us, they were emboldened by our coming, seeing in us a devotion to Christ that they desire as their own.

Today, as I write this devotional message to all of you, though separated from you by many miles, I cannot help but reflect upon the mutual encouragement that our missionary team and our Nicaraguan hosts received from one another. I also am filled with the remembrance of the encouragement that you and I regularly receive from one another through our mutual fellowship. It is an encouragement that is not difficult to explain. As the verse above declares "There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all". Together, we are a part of this one body. Together, we share and rejoice in that one hope. We are united in Christ. We are beloved brothers and sisters in Christ!

Pastor Richard A. Frey

January 2014: God's Witnesses + Expand

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts1:8)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

In this familiar Scripture passage, God sets before us the duty and privilege of sharing the Gospel of salvation both near and far. While a modern day spin on this passage might change the above place names to Elmira, Ontario and the provinces of Canada, the thrust of the passage would remain unaltered. As God's people, we understand that the good news of the forgiveness of sins and of eternal life for every believer in Jesus is to be proclaimed throughout the entire world beginning right where we stand.

The year of 2013 was a year in which the carrying out of this sacred and exclusive right by the congregation of St. Paul's took on another dimension. It was an exciting year for a group of twenty-five short term missionaries to Nicaragua, ten of whom were from St. Paul's. It was not the first time that missionaries were sent abroad from St. Paul's. Glenn Beckner travelled to Guatemala in 1995 and again in 1996, and Rebekah Klinck was commissioned as a missionary to Thailand in 1998. It was however the first time that the congregation deliberately planned and promoted a mission trip. Previously, our congregation had simply responded to the plans made by certain individuals. In 2013, however, we had the opportunity to get involved with the mission endeavour from the very start.

And getting involved is exactly what we did. Not only did ten members and two friends of St. Paul's travel to Nicaragua, but plans for a subsequent trip were made, with many others once again supporting these missionaries financially, undergirding them with prayer and helping them with the assembling of craft kits.

Now please don't misunderstand. I am not suggesting that we were better witnesses in 2013 than we had been in previous years. While sending missionaries to Nicaragua was and continues to be an exciting way of witnessing, it is not the only way nor by any means the best way of doing so. Rather, the mission trip undertaken by some members and supported by others was simply a novel way of doing what we have been doing all along.

We have been and continue to be God's witnesses. Moreover, St. Paul's has been in recent memory, and perhaps always, a congregation with a heart for missions. Spreading the good news of Jesus in Elmira and supporting the proclamation of the Gospel even to the ends of the earth is more than a chapter entitled “2013” in the history of St. Paul's. It is an integral part of who we are and of what we, by God's grace, shall always be.

Pastor Richard A. Frey

December 2013: Getting Ready + Expand

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Assembling craft kits, preparing cookie dough, buying gifts, putting up Christmas decorations; have you been participating in these activities? With Christmas and the mission trip to Nicaragua just around the corner, it seems as though we’ve been doing a lot of getting ready lately.

That’s a good thing! For whether we are prepared or not, these events will arrive. What a shame it would be if families would gather together unable to celebrate the joys of Christmas for lack of preparation. And how tragic if our missionaries would reach Nicaragua unable to perform the work for which they are going due to ill preparedness. Getting ready and being ready are vital for many tasks.

Advent, however, which begins today, is primarily about another type of preparedness. It isn’t simply to be a time devoted to putting up a tree and baking Christmas cookies for family get-togethers. It is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming (or advent) of our Lord Jesus Christ.

That coming is threefold. First, it is His birth among us as a baby in Bethlehem. What an amazing event! God, out of love for us, became man. It’s a cause for celebration. So that’s exactly what we do. We celebrate Immanuel—God the Father’s gift to us of God the Son. Now is the time to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Father’s love.

Second, the advent of Jesus is a coming into our hearts. Jesus has promised to dwell within us. Advent is a time to slow down and receive Him in the quietness that the season offers. That’s right! You didn’t misread the previous sentence. We should be using the Advent season to slow down and meditate on what it means to be in Jesus and have Jesus in us.

Third, Christ’s coming is one of judgement and unchallenged rule. Jesus promised to come physically a second time. Even as He once came, was seen and was touched, so He will come again. But the occasion of His second coming will be with power and glory instead of weakness and humility. Those who believe in Him, love Him and serve Him will live eternally with Him. Those who ignore Him, despise him or are too busy for Him will suffer eternal shame and despair.

His hope is that you will not be among this latter group. His hope is that you will have heard His cry: “Prepare! Be ready!”

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2013: The Greater of Everything Good! + Expand

Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

You’ve heard the expressions, “the lesser of all evils” and “a necessary evil”. These may be appropriate expressions when considering the transportation of fossil fuels. Consider the debate raging around the construction of the Keystone and other pipelines. Yet, while some have decried these ventures, the train derailments at Gainford, Alberta and Lac-Mégantic, Quebec have caused a few to acknowledge that a pipeline may be the lesser of a necessary evil.

Without question, there are things in life that are necessary. Not all of them however—in fact few of them—are evil. Food, marriage, sleep—all these things are as good as they are necessary for the continuation of life.

In the passage above, Jesus speaks of another necessary good. While visiting at the home of two friends, Mary and Martha, Martha busies herself with the things that a hostess often does. That’s a good thing. Mary, on the other hand, sits with Jesus and hears His Word. That’s also a good thing, even though some may consider the hearing of the Word of God to be a chore—a necessary evil. The fact is that the hearing of the Word of Jesus is neither a necessary evil, nor merely a necessary good. Moreover, it is a far cry from being the lesser of all evils. Rather, it is the greater of everything good.

There really is no down side to the hearing—and reading, studying and memorizing—of God’s Word. For in it, we find not only wisdom and strength for daily living, but also the assurance of God’s forgiveness and the key to everlasting life.

No wonder then that the Psalmist writes “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” He knew where to find the better things of life.

Friends, it would be difficult to survive our modern way of life without transporting and burning fossil fuels. These are a necessary evil. However, the Word of God, which also must be transported (to our hearts) and consumed by us is of all things the greatest good.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

October 2013: GIVE Thanks + Expand

The heavens are Yours; the earth also is Yours; the world and all that is in it, You have founded them. (Psalm 89:11)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Mine, yours, theirs, ours—these are the words we use to describe the things of this world. However, Ethan, the psalmist, sets the record straight. The world and everything in it belongs to the Lord. Whether it be the mountains, the streams, “our” farmland, “our” homes, local businesses, multinational corporations or the clothing on our backs, it is all the Lord's.

We, on the other hand, are simply the managers of God's world. That being the case, how are we to manage God's goods? Does a man hire a manager simply so that he can pay him a salary; or is something expected of the manager? Is a manager told that he need not tend to the business—that he may do with it as he pleases—for even if the business collapses, he will not be asked to give an account? Of course not! Yet, it seems that many of God's managers believe that they can do as they please with God's world.

But do you actually believe that this is God’s intent? Does God allow the wheat of the fields to grow for us alone? Is it His desire that some horde it while others starve? Is not the wheat—God’s wheat—for all His children? Indeed, it is for all to eat and be satisfied. The blessings of life that God grants are for all to share.

Beloved, next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. We will render thanks unto God for His many blessings of food and drink, cars and homes, hospitals and schools, shopping malls and infrastructure, and much more besides. And as we remember with thanksgiving God’s many gifts unto us, let us keep in mind that we are but the managers of God's world. We are not the owners. Therefore, we must manage the gifts with which He has entrusted us according to His will—in such a way that not only a few are benefited by them.

Without question, God wants us to share His possessions with others, including the greatest gifts of all, Jesus, and the good news of forgiveness and life. Though all people are sinful and thus undeserving of God's love, by an act of grace, all who believe in Jesus as their Saviour from sin are forgiven and thus delivered from everlasting torment. What a beautiful gift—another reason to give God our thanks!

Let us do just that this Thanksgiving season. Let us thank God for His great goodness to us. But let us thank Him not with words alone. As the saying goes “actions speak louder than words”. So why not give God thanks by sharing with those who have less than we do? Set aside an offering for world relief (next Sunday is Canadian Lutheran World Relief Sunday), and invite someone lonely or in need to dinner for Thanksgiving. What a beautiful way of saying thanks that would be! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

September 2013: God Makes It Grow + Expand

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. (I Peter 2:2)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

If it were up to me, our congregation would offer more programs—programs for kids, programs for teens, programs for singles, programs for couples, programs for seniors, music programs, sports programs, fitness programs, money management programs and a host of other programs besides. After all, with all that programming, there would be something that would appeal to just about everyone and our church would be a busy and vibrant place.

But, is that what God wants? Does He desire His Church on earth to be the hub of a wide variety of programs? Is it His goal that His Church busy itself with a flurry of unending activity in magnificent structures designed to accommodate all that activity? You know the answer, don’t you?

God cares little for grandiose structures and for the busyness that we sometimes confuse with true spiritual life. Instead, God cares about hearts that know Him and souls that trust Him. What matters more to God than the programs that are conducted in a building is the Word of grace that is shared among the people who frequent that building.

After all, the Church is people. It is not buildings. It is not balanced budgets. It is not programs. Service clubs, dance studios and sports teams have these. And while they may be busy and vibrant, they are not the Church. The Church is people who believe in Christ Jesus for forgiveness and for eternal life.

For this reason, rather than wanting a congregation that offers more programs, I should desire a church that is focused on sharing, teaching, reading and studying the Word of God. For this Word—this spiritual milk—is a means given to us by God that we may grow up in our salvation. Together with the sacraments that He has given to His Church, it is God’s Word that brings about true growth.

Therefore, with the fall season upon us, let us rededicate ourselves to the study of that Word. In fact, as the apostle declares, let us crave it as babies crave the milk they need to grow and live.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

July/August 2013: Perfect Weather + + Expand

They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. (Isaiah 49:10)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

With the most recent wave of warm weather behind us, I am reminded of another heat wave. It was the late 80’s and Rosanne and I were still in the Windsor area. The heat wave was into its third consecutive day of plus 100°F (38°C) weather and our window air conditioner was working overtime just to keep our home around 80°F (27°C).

Then it happened. A transformer outside of our home caught fire and the power in the neighbourhood went out. In a very short time, the temperature in our home soared and we went from being comfortable inside of its protecting shade to wanting outside of its stifling walls.

But who can complain? After all, I imagine that the people of Old Testament Israel were used to this sort of discomfort on a regular basis.

How meaningful then God’s promise to them must have been when He spoke to them through the prophet Isaiah, saying, “[You] will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon [you any more].” Though it had not been invented yet, God was promising them permanent air conditioning, and not the kind that produces a draft.

That promise applies to us too. The conditions of eternal life, to which Isaiah is referring in the above verse, will be perfect in every way. The scorching heat will be gone as will be the bitter cold. Hunger will be a thing of the past and our lips will never be parched for thirst. Every day will bring us immense pleasure.

But amazingly, we also will bring God great pleasure. For we, His beloved children, will be gathered around His throne according to His desire—a desire so deep that He chose to suffer the heat of hell’s fury for us.

This summer, as we bask in the warmth that its days bring, let us also bask in the love that caused God to make us His own.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

June 2013: Triune and True + Expand

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? (Job 11:7)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Who can understand the majesty and mystery of the Trinity? While the triune nature of God is clearly taught in the Scriptures, it remains one of those things that just does not make sense to us. How can there be three distinct persons in the Godhead, but only one God?

Yet, that’s precisely what the Scriptures, in the New Testament, teach. In the book of Matthew, Jesus commissions us to baptize all people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Elsewhere, Jesus is plainly called God, as is the Holy Spirit, and as the Father also clearly is. Yet the first letter to the Corinthians affirms that there is no God but one.

The Old Testament similarly declares that the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Interestingly however, the word for God in this verse in the original Hebrew is plural, as it is throughout the entire Old Testament. Couple this with the fact that God, in the book of Genesis, refers to Himself as We; and add to these observations the detail that God often is described as operating in a threefold manner (as for example in the familiar blessing, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace), and once again we are presented with the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

But how can that be? How can 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 be true? Perhaps the formula is incorrect. Perhaps it should be 1 X 1 X 1 = 1.

Consider also the following illustration. A world renowned mathematician is given the task of tutoring a student in advanced trigonometry. His student is a four year old child. Although the mathematician may be a top notch communicator, he fails in his task. What is the problem? Is it him? Are the formulas untrue? It is neither. Rather, it is the mind of the child that is not capable of fathoming such truths.

So it is with the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Although our minds may not be capable of comprehending His being, God is who He is. He is a threefold majestic, righteous and merciful God wrapped up into one. And best of all, He has revealed Himself to us, offering all who confess His name and trust in Him eternal salvation.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

May 2013: Courage + Expand

When Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Oh to have the courage of Daniel! When the king decreed that every person who prayed to anyone other than him would be cast into a den of lions, Daniel kept praying in full view of others nonetheless. What courage! What fearlessness!

Actually, while Daniel displayed great courage, there is nothing in Scripture to let us know whether or not his heart was also filled with fear. Does that matter? Would we consider Daniel less courageous if we knew that he had been filled with fear as he uttered his prayers from his upstairs room? Not at all! For, courage is not the absence of fear, rather it is the willingness to act in spite of fear because something has been judged more important than fear.

However, there is yet another dimension to courage. True courage always does what is right. Otherwise, the recent deeds of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, might be described as courageous. After all, they were certainly willing to act in spite of fear because they judged something to be more important than their fear. Courage, however, is not a word that we would use to describe their act of terror.

True courage is not a sinful thing. It is what God commands of us and promises to give us. It is what every Christian should desire. And it’s not as if we are lacking opportunities to exhibit such courage. Like Daniel, we have plenty of opportunities to pray in public, confess Christ in public and do what is pure, just and noble in public. Sadly, we sometimes drop the ball when it comes to doing the good that God demands of us. Sadly, we often succumb to the sin of fear borne of a lack of trust in God.

So what is the solution? It is to take a closer look at God and see Him who delivered Daniel from the mouths of the lions. It is to see Him who conquered death and the grave. It is to see the One who will never leave you nor forsake you and who has said Be strong and courageous… your God will be with you wherever you go.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

April 2013: A Final Word and Epitaph + Expand

He is not here! He is risen just as He said!. (Matthew 28:6)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Have you ever stopped to look at the headstones of a cemetery? If you have, you have likely read things like Here lies, followed by a name, some dates, etc. Perhaps, as you read several such epitaphs, you also found yourself pondering the lives of the individuals described on the headstones.

Who were they and what were they like? Is it possible to know? Some people may make the effort to try and find out, and, with a little luck, may even unearth a bit of interesting history. Beyond that, however, all that remains is an aging headstone, some grass and perhaps a few flowers. It's all very final.

There is however one grave that is very different. This grave—this tomb—never aged, for it was hardly used. Nor does it have an epitaph cut in stone. Its epitaph, rather, is spoken by the mouths of angels. And unlike the many Here lies, it says No one lies here. More precisely, it declares He is not here! He is risen, just as He said!

Of course, this unique tomb and epitaph are none other than those of Jesus of Nazareth. They are unique because He is unique. He is the eternal Son of God. He was dead, but conquered death and is alive forevermore.

And if that is not amazing enough, here is something even more spectacular. This Jesus offers all who trust in Him the same eternal life that is His, for He continues to have power over death. All who believe in Him will also leave their graves behind.

Whatever our epitaphs may one day say, a time will come when another epitaph will be spoken of us. What will that epitaph be? For those who trust in the crucified and resurrected Christ, it will be They are not here! They have risen, just as He said.

This too will be very final.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

March 2013: Good vs Evil + Expand

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established… For he is God’s servant to do you good. (Romans 13:1a & 4a)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

At a recent meeting of the Woolwich council, the issue of casino gambling in our township was discussed. At that meeting, one supporter of casino gambling made an interesting comment. She said, The township of Woolwich is a business, not a church. Don’t make this about good versus evil again. Sadly, this resident is misinformed about the roles and functions of both the township and the Church.

While she is partially right in stating that the township is a business, she has clearly lost sight of what the township’s business is. As with all government, the township is in the business of protecting and maintaining the wellbeing of its citizens. But that does not simply mean its financial wellbeing. It is also the duty of government to maintain law and order, security, peace and a wholesome environment. At the same time, it is the duty of the government—federal, provincial, regional and local—to protect its citizens against crime, corruption and those who unscrupulously prey on others. To say it differently, the township of Woolwich is in the business of good versus evil.

The Christian Church, on the other hand, is not in this business at all. It is not the God-given task of the Church to be the moral watchdog of society. If this were so, where would justice be in those lands where the Christian Church is either not found or barely present. The Church’s role and function rather is to proclaim the good news of Christ unto eternal life. Go and make disciples of all nations, Jesus commands His Church. To say it differently, the Church—which can also be described as a business—is in the business of preaching Christ crucified and raised from the dead.

So back to the issue of casino gambling. Should it be an issue of good versus evil? Most certainly! Should it ever be about anything else? Whoever we are, whether Christian or not, we must seek that which is best for the community in which we live. We must choose good!

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

February 2013: Mission Trip + Expand

I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. (Romans 15:25-26)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It’s hardly a novel idea. I’m referring to the mission trip to Nicaragua that 25 of us went on in early January of this year. Many churches have organized similar trips. Moreover, the practice of sending out missionaries to assist the less fortunate of the Church has been around since the time of the Church’s beginning.

One of the first relief missionaries to be sent out by the Church was the apostle Paul. In addition to being sent out to proclaim the Gospel, he was enlisted to deliver the contributions given for the relief of those enduring a famine in Jerusalem. This missionary work was at the request of some of the other apostles, but was also gladly taken up by Paul who was eager to do his part.

How very similar to the situation surrounding our mission trip to Nicaragua. Those of us who made the journey were eager to help as we were able, and those of you who helped send us on our way did so in the hope that your encouragement and support would bring aid to our brothers and sisters in another land.

And let me say this in the way of a report. As in the case of Paul’s missionary journey, the mission trip was a success. Whether you were a part of the team that travelled or of the Church which by its prayers and offerings supported the mission team, our goal was achieved. Considerable progress was made on the construction of a much needed worship facility, that without our efforts would not have been undertaken nor even considered. For five days, hundreds of children received a small meal that they otherwise may have gone without. The Gospel of Christ was proclaimed in word and song in a program that otherwise may not have been possible. And fellow Christians were encouraged by the concern of their brothers and sisters from Canada.

Our mission trip may not have been a novel idea, but it was a worthwhile venture, undertaken in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, made possible by His grace at work within us and blessed by the Master Missionary Himself.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

January 2013: Energized for Ministry + Expand

[Elijah] replied, I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected Your covenant, broken down Your altars, and put Your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too. The LORD said to him… I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him. (I Kings 19:14, 18)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

Some years ago a leader of a church youth group was struggling with the uncertainty of whether he wanted to continue as leader of the group. It’s not as if he was being overburdened with work—just the opposite. The group was small and it only wanted to meet every other week at most. Nonetheless the leader found the task difficult. Contrast him with another youth leader I remember. His youth group was large and required regular attention. They met three times a week and sometimes four. Yet the leader remained eager and energized for the task. Now to make this contrast even more interesting, what if I told you that the two youth leaders are one and the same person.

Perhaps that would cause some to ask why he found a small amount of work difficult on one occasion and a heavier load quite acceptable on another? The answer, of course, is not in the amount of work that he had, rather in the nature of the group with whom he was working. It is no secret that it is more enjoyable to participate in a successful, vibrant venture than in one that seems to be making little difference or that is just hanging on. Just ask the prophet Elijah. Although he had just defeated 400 priests of Baal in a contest on top of Mt. Carmel, his victory seemed to him to have made little difference. For he felt as if he were part of a shrinking minority and even wondered whether there were any others besides him who still loved the Lord. He felt all alone.

But God reassured Elijah by telling him of 7,000 other faithful believers. Now that may seem like quite a large number, but out of an entire nation, 7,000 is actually quite small. Nonetheless, Elijah was encouraged. As a result, he rededicated himself to the ministry that was his.

As it was for Elijah, so it was for us in the year gone by. The community of St. Paul’s is a small group also. But by the encouragement of God, it is a community that remained eager and energized for ministry. The year of 2012 was a year in which a great deal of groundwork was done for a trip to Nicaragua. It was a year in which other mission work was fervently supported. And it was a year in which the Word of God was faithfully proclaimed among those whom God has reserved as His own.

in His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

December 2012: The Day is at Hand + Expand

You know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

December!? I can hardly believe that in a few more days it will be December already. Why it seems that just yesterday October’s leaves were still falling!

You know, for many of us, life is a lot like the fall season, in that we would like to think that we are still closer to the October of our lives. But the reality is that many of us are closer to life’s December, with that big day looming just ahead—and I’m not referring to Christmas.

Whether we are in our 30’s, 60’s or 90’s, we would be well advised to be concerned about something far more important than the number of shopping days left until Christmas. Whether as a result of Christ’s return or just because the number of our days on earth, as predetermined by God, have been fulfilled, we would be wise to live our lives as if the day were at hand. As the verse above declares, the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what that means. Because it is obvious that our time on earth can end at any moment, we should live our lives here wisely.

So what are those things that are most important to you?—probably the same things that were most important to the Apostle Paul when he wrote the above verse from Romans 13. If you were to look that verse up and examine its context, you would discover verses encouraging us to love others. Specifically, you would be reminded not to gratify personal desires, rather to show concern for those who are weak in the faith. Are these not things that tug at our spirits also?

Especially during this season leading up to Christmas, are we not inclined to wonder what gift we may give that will please others? It is almost December—the day is at hand. The hour has come. God grant us the wisdom to use our allotted time well—in joyful service unto Him and in love for one another—before the night comes when no one can work.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

November 2012: Behind the Scenes + Expand

For in [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.' (Romans 1:17)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It all began on a stormy night in 1505, as a bolt of lightening struck the ground near Martin Luther as he was on his way to law school. In fear, he cried out to St. Anne, vowing to become a monk.

After some time in the monastery, his superiors ordered him to get his doctorate and become a professor at the University of Wittenberg. There his lecturing led him to the book of Romans, which in turn led him to contemplate the bold assertion that the righteous shall live by faith.

This phrase, however, which to us is so clearly good news, was for Luther bad news. Why? Because the phrase had been reinterpreted by the theologians of the late Middle Ages to support a theology of Law and works. For centuries the Church had taught that the righteousness of God was God's active, personal righteousness or justice by which he punishes the unrighteous sinner.

But late in the year 1516, in what is often called his Tower Experience, Luther had a breakthrough in his understanding of God’s righteousness. After meditating and struggling day and night, Luther realized that the verse was not talking about the active righteousness that God demands, but the passive righteousness that He freely gives to those who believe the Gospel. Luther rediscovered the Biblical truth that the sinner is justified (declared righteous) by God through faith in the work and death of Jesus, not by our work or keeping of the Law.

This, according to Luther, was the pivotal event in his life. Of this discovery, he wrote that he felt he was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. Now his conscience was at rest. Now he was certain of his salvation. Now, converted by the Gospel, Luther was a ready instrument to be used by God for reformation!

Therefore, although we celebrate the Reformation on October 31 in commemoration of the day in 1517 when Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, we might arguably contend that the true beginning of the Reformation occurred behind the scenes before then. Whatever the case, where there otherwise would be only unrest and uncertainty, in the Gospel there is now sweet rest.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

October 2012: The Real McCoy + Expand

It stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame. (I Peter 2:6)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

It never ceases to amaze me how quick the media is to report anything that has the potential of discrediting the Christian faith. I’m thinking of the September 18 announcement by Karen King that a Jesus’ wife papyrus has allegedly been discovered. While the papyrus is almost certainly a forgery, by the time that is firmly established, the perpetrators of this hoax, with the help of the media, will have achieved their desired result, namely of casting a suspicious shadow over true religion.

Should anyone, however, be surprised by those, who through forgeries or other cleverly devised schemes, attempt to discredit the truth of God’s Word? Hardly! After all, wherever a valuable thing exists, forgeries are sure to occur. Consider the Mona Lisa. Because of its great value and fame, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece has inspired numerous forgeries and impersonators, none of which match the beauty of the original. Or consider Canadian currency. Last year more than 2.6 million dollars of counterfeit currency was passed into circulation. Clearly there is something to be gained by making imitations of that which is valuable.

Is it any wonder then that so many religions exist in today’s world? Should anyone be startled when someone, with a forged papyrus fragment, tries to put into question the authenticity of the most valuable thing of all? Casting suspicion over God’s chosen and precious Cornerstone can only enhance the value of those religions that otherwise are but cheap reproductions of the genuine article, and increase the appeal of the empty and godless philosophies of this present age. Moreover, the Scriptures declare that the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.

Once again, the Scriptures are right, and once again I am even more convinced that there truly is a real McCoy, even Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, our Saviour and our Lord!

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

September 2012: Overflowing Abundance + Expand

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:5–6)

Beloved Friends in Christ,

After many years of dreaming of a shed for our back yard, it finally arrived this past week. And while I haven’t yet started moving stuff into it, I can tell you confidently that by this time next week, before I get all of the things into it that I would like to, it will be completely filled.

Overflowing abundance—that’s an accurate way of describing the measure of our possessions. It’s not just my household, is it? Many of us have far more than we can store in a neat and orderly fashion—more than we need and more than we will ever use.

The same is true on a spiritual level. We have an overflowing abundance of spiritual things—more than we will ever use. Whether it is in the book store, in the library, on the radio, on TV, online, at church, with friends or in the privacy of our home, God’s message of love and life in Christ Jesus are everywhere. Who can make use of every opportunity, and who is able to exhaust God’s rich supply?

But there is a difference between having an abundance of material goods and a rich supply of spiritual things. For when it comes to material things: sheds, garages, bins, shelving and the like are needed. But for spiritual things, the only storage unit required—our heart—always has room for more.

No doubt, some of the spiritual things will spill out and run over, but that is a good thing. For, when God’s blessings of forgiveness, compassion, joy, peace, etc. come splashing out of our hearts, it doesn’t leave us with any less. Just the opposite—the overflowing abundance grows. That’s God’s plan and that’s His design. Moreover, that’s a reason to ever seek more and more when it comes to the many spiritual blessings God desires to shower upon us.

In His service,

Pastor Richard A. Frey

St. Paul's Lutheran YouTube Channel

Worship services from the home of Pastor Rick Frey during the COVID-19 lock-downs.

Click to view a worship service

Good News from the Cemetery

A special Easter Video from Rev. Robert Bugbee (past president of Lutheran Church-Canada) Easter took the cork off of good news! Discover how what God did on Easter makes all the difference in the world.

Watch: Good News from the Cemetery

LCC Missions 101

So what is Lutheran Church-Canada (LCC) doing when it comes to oversees missions? Quite a lot! LCC gives God thanks for your mission dollars which are at work in several countries around the globe.

Watch: this Introductory video on LCC missions in Nicaragua

Also watch what happens when ...

An Outsider Visits a Lutheran Church

An Outsider Talks with a Lutheran Theologian (Part I)

An Outsider Talks with a Lutheran Theologian (Part II)