The sweet smell of incense can make you feel good, but true friendship is better still. Proverbs 27:9 (CEV)
After combing through hundreds of definitions and stories about sisterhood, and based on my own experience of having godly “sister-friends”, and doing ministry with all of you this past year, I’m sharing my understanding of what it means to have a sisterhood community.
Sisterhood is a bond that exists between women who are not related biologically, but who share an exceptionally strong connection as they do life together, sharing in the ups and downs, all the while enabling each other to thrive because of the connectivity of their relationships – relationships that are pure, and truthful, and authentic, and organic. In other words, real relationships. Relationships that are a way of life!
The Apostle Paul talks about the value of those types of relationships. In Titus 2, Paul instructs groups of people, through his letter to Pastor Titus, on how they ought to model proper behavior and he provides us, women, with some specific instructions on how we ought to mentor younger women. Before you discount this statement as not pertaining to you, let me say that no matter our age, we all know a younger woman.
Here’s the passage:
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
This short passage can take a long time to fully grasp and an even longer time to actualize in real life. We may never entirely get all of it, but we can definitely give it a good try. Do not be mistaken, ladies, we need each other to grow and to be successful in what we’ve been called to do by God.
A while back, God placed it on my heart that I needed to develop some healthy, godly female friendships which I intentionally sought out. It also meant that I had to let go of some unhealthy relationships that were not adding value to my spiritual walk. Of course, not all my friends are Christians, but I’ve learnt the importance of choosing how to spend my time wisely and to focus on things that are life-giving and setting limits on the other things.
How may God be speaking to you through Titus 2:3-5?
Paul wrote this letter to Titus as he (Titus) was pastoring a small, struggling church on the island of Crete and while his church was living under the oppressive Roman Empire and the evil leader, Nero who wanted to get rid of all Christians. Imagine living under that kind of persecution!
Yet, in that context, Paul was instructing them to persevere and lead godly, exemplary lives as a model for the younger women (and men) in their community. Our oppression today may not be as obvious, or it may be, depending on your perspective. The point is that we have opportunity, under somewhat better circumstances to carry out these instructions.
Our women’s ministry has been gifted to us by a God who loves us dearly and desires the best for us. AW Women’s Ministry exists to provide opportunities for the women in our church family and our community to authentically connect with each other and to have a deeper understanding of the value of healthy, godly friendships. This is not only important in our own lives, but it is essential for the life of the church and for our mission as ambassadors for Christ. The different gifts we've received through the Holy Spirit enable us to be a source of strength and encouragement to our “sisters” during difficult times. What a blessing the women in my life have been when I’ve felt lost or overwhelmed!
Our Secret Sisters ministry, as a vital part of AW Women’s Ministry, is not simply a program; it is a lifestyle that we hope you have developed over the past year as you have prayed for your “sister” and observed her life unfold through the veil of those faithful prayers. Now, you have the chance to “reveal” yourself to her and deepen that relationship face-to-face.
Enjoy this gift; nurture this new friendship. Perhaps you’ve been paired with an older woman from whom you can learn some things about life. Perhaps it’s a younger woman to whom you can pass on some nuggets of wisdom. Perhaps it’s a fairly equal match where you can share your experiences and begin to build a true friendship. Some of us are extroverts, some are introverts, some are serious, some are funny. It is precisely these uniqueness that make for interesting friendships. But, be mindful that it will take time to build. Lasting friendships aren’t built overnight; they take years, so be patient!
“True sisterhood cannot be forced. It has to be developed with interest, patience, reciprocity and over time. Not every woman will be your best friend, nor should she be invited to be in your inner circle, but every woman is deserving of your respect and support when you are able to provide it. Sisterhood is not a trite word we throw around. Being your sister’s keeper should be a reflex. It should be based on how you would want to be treated if you were walking in her shoes. Sisterhood knows no boundary, no race, no class or geography. Sisterhood transcends, and it transforms us for the better. Sisterhood is from the heart."1
By: Sue Bloomfield & Yolande Knight
Enjoy another Carole King classic in which she joined a few “sisters”, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain to sing - “You’ve Got a Friend”
"Brought Out…to be Brought In”
“and he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.” Deuteronomy 6:23 (ESV)
I do my best to write from the place where I am; whether that’s a wonderful place full of light, or a bit of a dark place. When I was asked to write for this blog, I admit I was a bit reluctant because I was going through some stuff. You know, “monsters- under-the-bed” kind of stuff.
I liken it to being between a rock and a hard place, which is incredibly challenging. It is even more magnified when everything around you appear to be going fine. Casual inquiries about how things are going for you can be tricky as you force out a “great!”, because really, everything is going great. But on the other hand, you feel confused and uncertain about your next steps. It’s as if your blessings are overwhelming you. I am blessed beyond measure, and can actively remember when I was earnestly praying for the things that I have in my life now. But if there is anything I have learned in the last number of months, it is this: you cannot accurately gauge how a person is doing mentally or know what’s going on in their lives spiritually – good or bad – by how they appear physically.
But those monsters, man, they can be pretty scary! I believe that God is working on me to build my faith as he prepares me for my next “life task”, whatever that may be. I believe that once we finish one part of our mission, God begins prepping us for the next part. I’m in the pit of it right now, being prepared for whatever God wants to throw at me next. I’m not writing this from a place of having the answers, or even from a place of jumping up and down with excitement – I honestly don’t know how this next chapter of my story is going to turn out, or what exactly is going to happen once I no longer feel like I’m drowning in fear and uncertainty, because fear and uncertainty can be crippling.
But, I can tell you this.
God reaches us in those moments of fear, confusion, and uncertainty so we learn to lean on him totally and completely. He doesn’t quit on us like, maybe an old friend quit on you while you were in your pit. And trust me, I know that reading those words “he won’t quit on us” sounds great, but it can be hard to feel in your heart when you’ve been hurt – I’ve been right there. Believing that he has great things in store for us can feel like a joke when the last 15 chapters have been disappointments and hurt.
I love Deuteronomy Chapter 8 – which is titled, in my Bible App, “Remember the Lord Your God”. God was leading the people out of Egypt, into the Promised Land, but not before bringing them through 40 years in the wilderness so that they can learn to lean on him alone.
You see, God brings us OUT so he can bring us IN. Out of the old and into something new.
With the Israelites, he didn’t lie; they ended up where they were supposed to be – where he promised they would be, but he didn’t make it easy – he never said he would.
We have to make the decision to believe His promises, whether everything around looks perfect or even if things look completely opposite to perfect. We have to stop responding based on our emotions and circumstances and trust God, no matter what. Because when God brings us out, he always has a plan and a purpose for taking us into the new thing.
I heard Kristene DiMarco, who sings with Bethel Music, say, “something really beautiful happens when God becomes your only option” and it really resonated with me. It is in her short film “I Needed A Supernatural God”, from the album, “Where the Light Was”, in which she talks about the story behind the album. You can find the comment at the 10:50 mark of the film, though I would encourage you to find the 23:24 minutes to watch it in its entirety.
(Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4OAsxUJx2M)
In reality, living like God is the only thing is hard. That is a challenging way to live - if we are choosing to do it in our own strength. But we must make the choice to live like there isn’t another option, because, is there really?
Live without fear and choose to pursue him totally and completely.
That is precisely what I’ve been challenged to do lately; to let go of fear and waiting for the other shoe to drop, and to trust in God’s promises alone.
I’m sharing with you, probably my favourite worship song right now (okay, maybe even all time because it’s based off my favourite hymn): “It is Well” – Bethel Music & Kristene DiMarco.
By: Yelena Knight
It seems so fitting to add this song by the classic Gaither Music Vocals – “You Brought Us Out”,
and I know that many of you will enjoy this classic Southern Gospel sound.
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 (NASB)
Our feature photo this week is a reminder of the “Called Retreat” table that was so lovingly decorated at the front of the church during our retreat weekend. Who can forget that gorgeous bouquet of thirty-something pink roses and those flowing fern branches! The ferns immediately took me back to my childhood and growing up in the Caribbean where I was surrounded by beautiful, lush vegetation all the time. These ferns grew in abundance there, so it was a very fond memory for me, and throughout the entire weekend, my heart was filled with appreciation for that reminder.
November is a month of remembering and leads us into a season of memory-making and memory-recollecting. This weekend, on Remembrance Day, our nation pauses to remember what our veterans have done and continue to do to secure and protect our freedoms. As people who enjoy these freedoms today, let us show our profound gratitude for the extraordinary sacrifices made by men and women who laid down their lives for their country. And let us remember the horrors and deep cost of war so that we will not be so apt to repeat them in the future.
Because, remembering is more for the future than it is for the past. Forgetting can be costly. It has been said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
As Christians, we understand what it means to remember. God calls us to remember. Our faith is all about remembering. We can look forward to eternity because we remember God’s grace that saved us in the past, allowing us to spend eternity with Him.
God asks us to remember where we’ve come from; how He reached out with outstretched hands to pull us out of our pits of despair. (Deuteronomy 5:15) Hence the warning from the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 6:4-8; for if we forget, we are doomed to hell.
Ever wonder why God asks us to remember Him as often as we partake in communion? (1 Corinthians 11:24-26)
Take a close look through your Bible and see the numerous references to remembering. Here are a few examples (Matthew 26:13, Joshua 4:4-7, Exodus 28:9-12, 39:6-7) and look at the number of times the Israelites erected memorials to remind them of God’s goodness and mercy as they journeyed to the Promised Land.
This Remembrance Day, add a few things to your list for remembering…
- Remember how God saved you from your sins.
- Remember how God placed you in a loving Church family.
- Remember how God opened your eyes to recognize sin.
- Remember how God carried you through your season of pain and suffering.
- Remember how God provided for you when you didn’t know how you would make it through to the next week/month.
- Remember how God answered that impossible prayer for you/ a loved one / a friend.
- Remember how God sent that person over to comfort you during your time of grief / sadness / loneliness.
- Remember how God healed you / a family member / a friend / a colleague when the doctors had given up.
- Remember how the gospel came alive to you through the community of your small group.
- Remember how God…. (fill in the blank)
- Remember God!
By: Yolande A. Knight - firstname.lastname@example.org
Let the words of this song from the Passion movement speak to you as you “Remember” featuring Brett Younker & Melodie Malone.
This year’s retreat theme, “Called”, was based on Isaiah 43:1 and taken from a section of Scripture where God was reassuring His people about His redemptive plan for them. They were going through a period of grave difficulties, including captivity, and God was using these words to bring them comfort. He was building their confidence in His plans for their future, despite what they were going through at that moment.
Did you get the “at that moment” idea?
What does that mean to you?
How does it resonate with what’s happening in your life today, in your current season?
I invite you to spend some time with the Lord on that thought this week. Sit still with Him and ask Him to reveal what He may be working out in your life “at this moment”. Don’t rush the process; it could take several sittings to clearly hear God’s voice.
One of the many nuggets that Deborah shared with us over the retreat weekend, was how she came to understand that God was growing her to be more like Him through the wilderness places of her life. Many of us can share similar stories.
He is ready to do the same in your life, if you let Him.
To the Israelites in the wilderness, He was providing comfort and confidence. He promises to do the same for us in our wilderness. He does have a redemptive plan for your life.
Do you really believe that God calls you by name? That He knew you before you were born?
And that He has a plan specifically for you?
How may your life look differently if you are walking in the knowledge of those truths, if you believe that He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine?
Join us at our November Mugs & Muffins (November 11th, at 9:30 a.m.) as we continue the conversation with a panel of "Called” women who will share their experiences and take-aways from the truly amazing retreat weekend.
By: Yolande A. Knight - email@example.com
Our Chris Tomlin's Christmas Concert ticket winner, and many of you will appreciate this "Fear Not" song that captures the essence of this week's post. Reflect on the lyrics.
"Called by Name"
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Is 43:1b)
Called | Noun (Synonyms): Named | Appointed | Chosen | Vocation | Life’s work | Mission | Purpose
“a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence” (Merriam-Webster)
When we began this “Called” journey a while back, it seemed like the weekend retreat was way in the distant future, yet, here we are, October 13th!
Is God calling you by name to be here?
I hope that you are planning to attend. It’s not too late to get tickets online or at the door. Deborah is looking forward to meeting you and sharing what she believes God has laid on her heart for us this weekend. The team has prepared for you to have an amazing time in God’s presence. They truly believe that no time invested with God is wasted and that you will leave more empowered than when you came!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the journey these past few weeks with our “called” blog posts. It was rather interesting that each post, written by a different woman, including Deborah, was so unique and shed a different light on the topic.
Did you catch that? I hope you noticed the uniqueness of each post. It is how we were each uniquely and marvelously created by God for different purposes – sometimes we can get too caught up in another person’s story, comparing our chapter one to their chapter fifteen. Or we think that we have to fit into a specific box and when we don’t, then we get discouraged.
This weekend is intended to remove some of those stressors and stereotypes that we’ve cultivated and help us to step into the woman that God has created each one of us to be.
Here’s one of the things Deborah has said in that regard, as she ministers to people:
“My desire is to invite people to look at the truth of their life story and find God as their author; to unlock the prison doors of religious thinking and “doing,” and walk into the wide-open spaces of living-passionately! - (Deborah Klassen)
Join us this weekend – October 13th & 14th and discover all that God has Called you to be!
Enjoy this rendition of the Carole King classic, “Natural Woman”, sung by Deborah from her “Veil of Love” CD.
By: Yolande A. Knight - firstname.lastname@example.org
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine." Isaiah 43:1
I brought my black Toyota Camry to a safe distance stop behind the car in front of me. Sitting at the red light, I surveyed my surroundings, as I often do, while waiting for the light to change. The music on the radio accompanied me on my errand running day and my mind was thinking about the 'to do' list laying on the passenger seat beside me.
Looking out the passenger window on my right, I could not help but notice the young 20 something year old woman, seated behind the steering wheel of the "Jeepish" vehicle beside me. There was something about her demeanor that caused me to keep watching her.
She had shoulder length soft brown hair tucked behind her ears and a slender face. Her eyes were fixed straight ahead, looking, as though trying to change the picture unfolding in her life.
Her hands were gripping the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o'clock positions, except for the moments she released them, one at a time, to wipe away the tears that were cascading down her cheeks.
Immediately, my mind and heart were engaged in her situation - though I did not know what it was. I did not know her name, but I wanted to speak to her!!
The distance that spanned the space from my driver's seat, across the center console, across the passenger seat, the thickness of my passenger side car door and the roadway between my vehicle and her car's driver side door, seemed like an un-navigable gulf. Too far to cross with the uncertainty of the timing of a changing stop light. Reaching over, I turned off the radio, as I simultaneously rolled down the passenger window, trying to "will" her to look my way so I could ask her if there was anything that I could do to help.
She stared straight ahead! Hands gripping the steering wheel. Her crying- containing gasps, even as her chest heaved to try and catch her breath. From where I sat, her sadness and sorrow were palpable. Everything within me wanted to comfort her!
She stared straight ahead - wiping tears - gasping cries!
The light turned green.
Traffic started to move. Her vehicle began to roll forward, as did mine. I debated as to whether I should follow her; to find out if there was something I could do to help. My concern for her affected my own concentration on my driving for a moment, as I watched her drive away and disappear over the crest of the hill.
Putting on my blinker, I signaled left and drove into the parking lot of the dry cleaners. Pulling into an empty spot, I put the car in park and turned off the ignition. For several moments, I sat quietly looking off in the direction in which the young woman had driven.
What was her name? What had happened to cause such pain?
Had she just received news that someone she loved had died or was in an accident and she was on her way to the hospital? Had she just received news that she was ill and trying to process the prognosis? Had she just learned she was pregnant and it was not welcome news for her life situation? Had she just broken up with her boyfriend? Did she just find out her husband was cheating on her? Had she been abused? Had she just lost her job and did not know how she was going to take care of herself? Had she said goodbye to a parent, or a child? Had life become too unbearable and she was contemplating suicide?
What situation was unfolding or news received that could illicit such a deep, guttural sorrow in her body?
I did not know her name. I could not give her comfort but I wanted to! I wanted her to know she did not have to be alone in her pain!
WHO WAS SHE? WHAT WAS HER NAME?
I could not comfort her but what I could do, I did.
"Lord Jesus - take care of her! You who knows her name and brings comfort. Please go to her where she is and meet with her in a tangible way. Help her O GOD!"
I often think of her. The young twenty-something woman in the "Jeepish" vehicle - nameless to me BUT not nameless to the GOD who knows her.
I was reminded about another broken-hearted woman who lived many years ago, in ancient days. She had a friend; a close friend. A friend of authentic caring, influence and love, who had changed her life. That friend was wrongly accused and had been horrifically brutalized and nailed on to a cross in the most humiliating of circumstances, for all to see. Then his body was laid to rest in a rock enclosed grave.
Three days later, in grief and deep trauma, she had gone to visit his grave. When she got there, her heart and mind and body experienced another adage of pain because it appeared to her as though his grave had been robbed. His body was gone.
This was too much pain to bear and she collapsed in gasping sobs. The cascading tears were falling from her eyes when a man walked into her presence.
"Woman, why are you crying" (“what happened to cause this much pain")
"They have taken away my LORD'S body (“my friend's body is gone") and I don't know what they have done with him".
Almost three years ago, I stood at the edge of an opening in the ground and watched as cemetery workers lowered the casket containing my brother's body, into the concrete vault 6 feet below. Then they put a heavy concrete lid on top of the vault and began to cover it with dirt. I stood there till the last scoopful of earth had been put in place, then grasping tightly on to my husband's hand, walked away in silent grief.
How utterly disturbing and devastating an experience it would have been if 3 days later I returned to his gravesite to find the earth dug up, the cement lid of the vault upended, the casket lid opened and my brother's body not there!
But I picture that this is the type of scenario in which this woman found herself.
"Woman, why are you crying. Who are you looking for?"
Weeping, broken-hearted, vulnerable, frantic, shattered, alone, reeling from trauma and loss, she was now in the presence of a man she did not know and he wanted to know what was wrong. She thought he was the gardener, and possibly in desperation to try and get some answers, through anguished tears, she told him her plight.
"Did you take him? Just tell me what you did with him and I will go get him...
Desperate pain - needing answers - gasping cries.
Wait. She knew that voice!!!
Why when he had spoken the first time and called her 'woman', which held no depth of familiarity, and asked her a question, had she not recognized it?
But, when he called her by her name --- oh, that was different!
"Mary" - she was known!
The gardener, or so she had thought, did not ask her name.
It was not a case of "Now, remind me who you are again?"
He KNEW her! He KNEW her name and he called her by her name!
She heard it, and in that moment, something happened!
"Rabboni - Teacher" (she knew her friend!)
"Don't hold on to me because I have not yet gone to my Father in heaven."
I can only imagine the intensity with which she grabbed hold of him - throwing her arms around him, clinging to him! "Could this be true? Could this be real? Are you kidding me? You were dead and my world shattered and now you are standing here!!"
Intensity of joy, disbelief and relief, overwhelming elation mixed with the tears and feelings that physically impact the body in grief.
This was Jesus! Her friend, her LORD - Alive!!
A staggering cacophony of thoughts and emotions.
Such an intense response she had that he told her - "Don't hold on to me".
The kind of intense response that happens when despair does a 360-degree turn.
A running leap into his arms.
It would be that kind of response for me.
It is an exquisite account to me. A demonstration of magnificent love.
Jesus did not have to go back to his gravesite after he was raised from the dead. BUT, there was a woman there that was in deep pain!
Her friend, her LORD, came to where she was - in her pain.
He knew exactly who she was.
He asked her what was wrong, and then...
He called her by her name!
That is ALL He did... And it was profound!!
It changed everything for her! It transformed her world!
October 13th & 14th are two days which have been chosen for us, as women, to get together. Will you come? Will you bring a friend or two or three?
Provision will be made for you!
I am thinking about you and praying for you!
I will be waiting and I will be watching for you!
I will be interested to see how God, the Most High God, who created you and loves you and knows where you are and all your needs, will give to you on those days.
I hope you will come with anticipation!
I hope you will leave full!
Written by Deborah A. Caya Klassen
(August 2017. All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission)
Click here to listen to the track "Take My Life" from Deborah's "Legacy of Hope" CD
Photo Credit: T. Lau
I thank my God every time I remember you. (Philippians 1:3)
I have been blessed to call Arlington Woods Church my home church since 1967 when my family moved to Ottawa so my father could start work at Carleton University. Back then, we were meeting at Knoxdale Public School while waiting for the original church building to be built. My mother faithfully brought us kids to Sunday School though people tell me I spent a lot of time hiding behind my mother’s skirts since I was a painfully shy child and still learning English.
I am grateful for many at Arlington Woods Church who befriended my immigrant family and blessed my brother, sister, and me as our Sunday School teachers, mid-week club leaders, and youth group and young adult leaders. In time, my mother, sister, brother, and I all came to faith.
Some of you took a special interest in mentoring a painfully shy teen. You gave me opportunities to serve alongside you in Sunday School, the mid-week kids’ club, and the library. You introduced me to Wesley Acres Camp, where I worked several summers as a cabin leader and flipping burgers at the Raven Snack Shack.
As a new Christian, Dave had joined Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) while studying at Acadia University. After graduating, Dave moved from small town Nova Scotia to work in high tech, in the big city of Ottawa, where he joined IVCF at Carleton University, where I was studying. Dave and I met while volunteering with IVCF’s International Student Ministry friendship program. You welcomed Dave when he was looking for a new church. In 1987, you celebrated with us as Dave and I got married in the original sanctuary, the present-day fellowship hall. In 1992, you supported Dave and me when we took a giant and crazy leap of faith and moved to Tokyo, Japan for our 3-½ year international adventure.
You welcomed Dave and me back as parents of two young children and walked with us as our family grew to include two more daughters. You were a big help when those two both came seven weeks prematurely. Just as you had blessed my siblings and me growing up, you blessed my children with your leadership and friendship.
As my children grew, you gave me opportunities to serve in kids’ ministry and, in time, allowed them to serve alongside you and me. In recent years, you supported me when my parents had various serious illnesses and encouraged Dave while he was out of work. You gently encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and take on some leadership roles. You warmly welcomed me in your small groups, where I continue to grow. This summer, you celebrated with us as my firstborn was married in our current sanctuary.
As I look back over 50 years, I see God’s faithful hand in blessing my family in various seasons of life through generations of our church family - some who are still here, some who moved, and some who are with the Lord. I can’t help but be filled with gratitude. So, thank you, my Arlington Woods Church family. May God bless you and continue to bless others through you.
By: Christine Villeneuve
Please Call Back Later!
“Waah!!!”, “Mom, I need help!”, “Honey, can you give me a hand?”
Since my son was born in January, I feel as though I am being called upon 24-7. Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is pick up a phone, respond to an email, or feel obligated towards something. Admittedly, that feeling is similar to when I feel God calling me for something. That little voice inside my head goes, “please call later?” or “so-and-so has a natural gifting in that area, call them”.
Inevitably, the voice inside my head is wrong. In Matthew 11, Jesus calls “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (v 28-30 NLT).
Many of us as women have multiple calls on our life. We are called in roles in our family, in our workplaces, with our friends, and our extended loved ones. In these times, it is important to listen for God’s gentle whisper, when we are called to rest and be cared for, or when we are called to action. Ultimately, a calling from God is not meant to burn us out or over burden us. It is meant to lighten our load, and help us learn about God’s love, life, and direction. Yes, a calling can stretch us, and challenge us at times, but that yoke should not be heavy as our spirits are refueled by the Holy Spirit, which keeps us strong (Ephesians 3: 16:19), and supported. When life starts taking over, we can quickly become overwhelmed again.
God calls us all to a full life, not an overfull one.
Ephesians 3: 14-19 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
By: Rozen Mathai
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Is 43:1b)
If you’re anything like me, you may have gone for a long time believing that being “called” by God was reserved for special people. Perhaps you felt that you didn’t measure up and worthy to be called.
Friends, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth! God calls every one of us, in our ordinariness, brokenness, and in spite of our messed-up lives. Look through the pages of your Bible and see that, with few exceptions, the people who were used by God were ordinary, common folks.
What does it mean to be called by God?
It doesn’t mean that we are better than other people and it doesn’t mean that we suddenly have a life free from obstacles. In fact, the opposite may be true. James 1:2- says to “consider it pure joy when you endure trials of many kinds” and John tells us that in this world, we would have trials (John 16:33). You see, once we become Christ-followers, it’s like we become walking targets for the enemy.
Most of Jesus’ disciples were ordinary fishermen (John 21:1-3) who endured much hardship in their lives; some even died in their service to God. The Bible is clear in showing us that being called by God has to do with serving Him and loving others, and not a safe and trouble-free life. It’s about becoming humble and allowing God to use us wherever He has placed us.
We need to stop looking at the idea of being “called” as a special assignment, or about specifically being in ministry or sent out on a mission field. Your call may be to be the best mom or wife right in your own home. I believe called has more to do with the small, simple things we do that adds value to another person’s life and less about the grand and public displays, huge gestures or dramatic things. It’s less about self and more about others; the idea of laying down your life for your sisters.
Don’t know what God has called you to do?
Wonder why you’re not fulfilling your purpose?
Could it be that you are not ready? If we look at one example in Scripture, we’ll see that sometimes it takes a long time and it may require a lot of growth. Joseph’s story, found in Genesis 37 through Chapter 50, is a great place to start and begins when Joseph was seventeen. We meet Joseph as an arrogant teenager who knew in his heart that God had a big plan for his life but, we also see that Joseph was not ready to step into that purpose. He needed to go through some seasons of pruning to become ready for his assignment from God. Over time and through a series of trials and troubles, Joseph was humbled and his character developed into the man who found pleasure in serving God through saving many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
We will be dedicating our next few blog posts to exploring this topic of “called” as we prepare for our upcoming Fall Retreat. I trust that you will follow along and uncover what God has called you to do and the work He has prepared for you.
Aren’t you just a tad interested to find out?
I hope that your journey won’t be as long and painful as Joseph’s. When you do recognize your calling, you’ll see how truly exhilarating and fulfilling the journey of life becomes.
Dare to be all that God has called you to be and depend on His guidance and direction! Don’t settle for anything less! You were made to shine!
By: Yolande A. Knight - email@example.com
"Hall of Fame/Faith"
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. (Hebrews 11:1-2, ESV)
Sam’s sermon a couple Sundays ago was a powerful reminder of how important faith is for all of us. Much of what we know of faith we learn from the Bible, but also from the example and teaching of our parents.
In Proverbs 22:6 (NASB) we read: Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Moms, Dads and other relatives have a major role to play in the lives of little ones.
Looking back on your walk of faith, who are those in your personal Hall of Fame?
I love to do genealogy and have done it now for many years. I love to root out the personal stories from the facts I discover. My maternal grandfather lived most of his life in a mining valley in South Wales. While I have lived most of my life in Canada, I saw my grandpa, William for the last time when I was just three years old. He died when I was eleven. Imagine my joy many years ago now, when I discovered that he was born again in one of the last of the great Welsh Revivals. I knew for many years that he had been active in the Anglican Church and was considered by the family to be very religious and a good person. It wasn’t until I connected that to the Welsh Revivals, that I realized I would get the opportunity to sit beside him in Heaven. How special that thought is to me!
This year, I have been writing the story of my paternal great-grandfather, John Willoughby and his parents, Thomas and Mary Willoughby. Thomas and Mary homesteaded north of the Durham Road in Grey County, Ontario in the 1850s. They were both refugees from the Great Famine in Ireland. They came to Canada as members of the Church of Ireland (Anglican) and by the time they showed up in Canadian records, they were attending the Wesleyan Methodist Church. They probably changed denominations because of a Methodist circuit rider, although I do not know this for a fact. At least one of their children married a Mennonite.
The story about their son John, my great-grandfather also came as a revelation to me recently. Researching his life, I discovered a bunch of records about life in Sundridge in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I found reports from the church he and his family attended in the 1890s in Sundridge, Ontario. He too was a Methodist.
John Willoughby died in 1938 so I didn’t know him at all. I did know that he and the family suffered a number of tragedies that occurred before and during WWI that were difficult to bear. John homesteaded along the Muskoka Road where he met and married his wife, Margaret. They were among the founding families of Sundridge. John eked out a living there for the rest of his life. He lost his first grandchild, his thirteen-year-old son, and his wife within one month in 1914. Then in 1918 he took in and raised an orphaned niece and nephew and saw their six siblings safely settled with other family members.
As a young child, my paternal grandmother would regularly read to us from the Bible when we visited with her or stayed over on weekends. She shared the gospel at a moment’s notice and we grandchildren always knew she was praying for us. I also had at least two Sunday school teachers who touched my life in similar ways.
My mother, my favourite aunt, and a dear uncle also have very specials spots in my Hall of Faith along with a small number of Bible study friends and a special older couple from the church family who mentored me for many years. I could go on at length, but the main point is, where would I be without their examples?
The other day I decided to look at the WWI war record for the family member of a friend of mine. Just a little something I thought she might enjoy. She is a cousin of Reverend Reynolds Herman James of Kingston. I researched and wrote a short piece about the life and war record of his father, Delmer Stewart James of Stittsville. Delmer’s parents were both born in Ontario with Irish roots. They were living in Goulbourn, Carleton County from the 1860s and were part of the Holiness Movement Church. Delmer had four brothers and four sisters who all grew up with that influence in their background.
Delmer, in his turn, continued in the Holiness Movement throughout WWI when he served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps and later returned with his new wife, Grace Susan, to raise his own family of six in Stittsville, Ontario. His oldest son, Reynolds Herman James carried on the family tradition and his recent obituary gives awesome witness to the results of a life lived by faith. He served in WWII in the air force, and it was through his time there that he came to know Christ personally and realized his calling to be a pastor.
James, Rev. Reynolds Herman - WWII - RCAF Went to be with the Lord, peacefully at the Kingston General Hospital on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, at age 96.
Born on a farm 4 miles south-east of Stittsville, Ontario on June 17, 1920. He was the son of the late Delmer James of Stittsville, Ontario and Susan Reynolds of Folkestone, England and the eldest of 6 children. He attended the local county school until grade 8 and worked with his dad on the farm and alongside the neighbouring farmers. During the first year of WWII he worked in the flax mill. The fibre was important for airplane wings. On his 21st birthday, Reynolds joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served in Quebec, Newfoundland, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for 4 years and 4 months. While serving in Windsor, Nova Scotia, he attended the Nazarene Church where he was born again on October 14, 1944. Reynolds served as a Pastor for 42 years in the Holiness Movement Church, which joined the Free Methodist Church in 1959. Reynolds loved his family and they all were very special to him. He often remarked how thankful he was that his children loved and were faithful to the Lord. He was proud that they were all active in their church and that his grandchildren attended church.
Reynolds is predeceased by his beloved wife of 64 years, Eliza-Jane (née Hodgins) and by his dear son, Stewart James. Loving father of William (Marilyn), Bonny Chapman (Peter) and Anne Kenny (Vernon).
Cherished grandfather to 10 grandchildren, Rachel Spink (Derek), Natalie Baker (Justin), Laura Thompson (Corwin), Nicole Chapman, Melissa Kenny, Julianna James, Jennifer Chapman, Victoria Edwards (Zach), Lindsay Chapman and Aaron Chapman and great-grandfather of Hailey and Lily Baker and Isabel Spink. Survived by his sisters Lillian and Lena and brother Lorne. Predeceased by his brother Gerald and sister Lola.
Fondly remembered by many nieces and nephews and their families.
“Be ye steadfast unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord for ye know your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NASB)
When I reflect on the legacy of faith these folks have produced, I can only hope to have had a similar effect on the lives of those I know and love.
How about you?
by Lynne Willoughby
Photo 1: John Willoughby (supplied by Lynne Willoughby)
Photo 2: Delmer, his wife Grace with their children, far left Reynolds, Lorne, Lola, Gerald, Lillian, Lena. Photo 3: Reynolds at a Remembrance Day Ceremony in Wilton where he would lay a wreath annually for his dad, four uncles, and himself. Photo 4: Reynolds & Eliza-Jane (Photos 2-4 supplied by Reynolds’ granddaughter, Victoria Edwards)
Last week we featured Part 1 in this 2-part post from Naomi Priddle who recently went on a mission trip with YWAM to Hawaii and Nepal. This week, we are featuring the second installment which focuses on Naomi's experiences in Nepal and how she applied the lessons of overcoming her fears.
- The Editorial Team
“FEARS" – Part II
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)
We arrived in Nepal and I discovered that one of the main things we had to do was, guess what, evangelism! It was a little more complicated in a foreign language but we had translators to help and it all worked out. I can recount numerous stories of God filling me with a boldness in the streets of this foreign land and allowing me to be His light in a country so overwhelmed with darkness. I didn’t let fear slow God’s work through my life. Instead, I allowed Him to radiate brilliantly through the way He changed my heart for His glory!
What I really hope you hear through these testimonies is that we cannot let fear hold us back from doing what God wants us to do. I write this hesitantly because I know that I fall prey to fear constantly, but it’s something so very important to our faith and I think that even taking the smallest steps can slowly enlarge our ‘comfort zones.’
I have been studying what God has to say about fear and I selected two of the many passages to share with you. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Initially, when I read this verse, I sort of felt convicted, thinking that my fears were showing that I was not trusting in God completely. However, I began to realize that this verse is not trying to make us feel guilty, rather; I think it’s trying to reassure us of God’s perfect love and to remind us that we have nothing to fear. God loves us and He doesn’t want us to be scared, because He is in control and when we let Him do His work in our lives, it always turns out for the best even if getting there is scary.
I really want to emphasize that stepping out in fear brings freedom. If we fully trust in God, holding His hand, so to speak, and letting Him work through our fears and weaknesses will allow us to see incredible things happen. There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing God work in powerful ways through our weak human hands. “‘“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Don’t hinder Him from working wonders in your life and in the lives of those around you. Let God’s Holy Spirit flow through you and give you the ability to live bravely. Don’t let the enemy weigh you down with fear but know that your Creator, your Heavenly Father, is always there to protect you, to hold you and to guide you. Be free from fear, because once you overcome your fears, you will experience perfect love and there is nothing like it.
When you do step out in your fears you are not alone. Even if there is no one physically around you cheering you on, rest assured that God is with you and has armed you with the fiercest of weapons - the Name of Jesus Christ. There is nothing and no one who can stand against that Name.
Satan has to leave the room when you utter the name of Jesus! And that’s exciting, it should get you fired up about fighting a battle against evil alongside Jesus our Lord and Saviour. If your fears are stopping you from doing what God wants you to do it’s Satan trying to stop you from overcoming the darkness of this world. Take hold of this power and defeat fear, because fear is from the enemy and God wants you to realize that you don’t have to fight this war from a posture of fear because Jesus has already won for you.
The other day in Church we sang this song called “What a beautiful name” by Hillsong. One verse goes like this:
“What a powerful Name it is, Nothing can stand against, What a powerful Name it is, The Name of Jesus”
How true is this! How great and powerful is the Name of Jesus!
Once we realize the power that is in the Name of Jesus, we will be unstoppable warriors for God. Don’t let fear stop you, step out in faith and experience how rewarding it is once it has been conquered. Jesus is with you. His great and mighty Name can move mountains and shake the earth. God wants each and every one of us to shake the foundations of this earth with Him.
Refuse to be held down by human thoughts and fears and let God work miracles through your life! Be a Daniel, go into the den of lions and be unafraid. Be an Esther and stand up for your people even if it means death. Be an Abraham and be willing to give up your son for the love of God. Be a Moses and speak even when you don’t think that you can. Because the living God is with you and He will close the mouths of the lions, He will reward your bravery, He will see your faithfulness and He will give you a voice and fill you with words to speak.
He is mighty to save and He cannot be stopped.
Photo Credits: Naomi Priddle Photo 1 - Naomi and team leaving for Nepal; Photo 2 - The Girls in Kurtas, (traditional women clothing in Nepal) Naomi is wearing the green wrap.
By: Naomi Priddle
This week we feature Part 1 in a 2-part post from Naomi Priddle as she gives us a glimpse into her recent mission trip with YWAM. Next week, Part 2 will describe Naomi's missionary experiences in Nepal and the lessons that God revealed to her about fears. You definitely will want to see how this phase of Naomi's journey unfolds so come back next week to find out.
- The Editorial Team
“FEARS" - PART I
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’. (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV)
Fear is something that God has been really speaking a lot to me about recently. I think it’s something that, in the past, has slowed me down or stopped me from maybe, going all in for Jesus. A couple years ago at Camp iawah (In All Ways Acknowledge Him), I completed a leadership training program called “Roots”. On the first day of the program, one of the leaders drew a circle on the board and inside he wrote the words “comfort zone”. He then drew a bigger circle around the initial one and within the two circles he wrote the word “fear,” explaining that it represented the things that we are scared to do because they’re outside of our comfort zones. Outside both of those circles he wrote “panic zone,” describing the things that are so far from our comfort, they cause us to panic. That’s when we start to feel that gut-wrenching fear, the all-consuming terror that takes away our breath. He began to explain that the next four weeks of our leadership training would push us outside of our comfort zones and close to our panic zones. He explained that the only way to grow is to step into our fears and slowly our comfort zones will grow and things that once seemed scary won’t anymore and things that were once absolutely terrifying will only be a little scary.
The message of that leadership training has stuck with me ever since. I’ve often thought about how true it is. It’s like exercise; the only way to expand your lungs is to push them, sometimes so far that you run out of breath. But I honestly don’t think that I truly lived this out until I went on a six-month mission trip to Nepal via Hawaii, with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). Because it’s one thing to say you’re going to go beyond your comfort zone, but when it comes down to doing it, it’s really very much harder to act on.
So, at the beginning of this school year, I found myself in Hawaii surrounded by many people I didn’t know in an unfamiliar place and very far away from home. I was scared. And I began to think about that circle graph from my leadership training at Camp IAWAH a few years ago. I realized that the next six months were going to be filled with terrifying experiences and I was going to have to choose to get outside of my comfort zone and grow. It was about time I conquered my fears, but all this would have been super impossible without God.
Of the many experiences from my time in Hawaii and Nepal, one of my favourite testimonies is how God took one of my fears of street evangelism and developed it into something I quite enjoyed. One of my biggest fears in life is talking in front of big groups of people, but really this fear could be translated into talking to random strangers about my faith. I’m not huge on going up to people that I don’t know and talking to them, let alone talking to them about my faith, my beliefs, all things controversial and uncomfortable. The first day I arrived in Hawaii I found out that one of the things that would be required of us was street evangelism every other Friday night. Going back to that circle graph, I would say this was pretty far into my panic zone. When you throw in the fact that I was sitting with a bunch of people I didn’t know; I was pretty much ready to go home. But that wasn’t really an option so I stuck it out and I got to know these people who became my family for the next six months.
Fast forward to the first night of street evangelism where we were split into two teams; my group headed to a town called Hanapepe where they celebrate a Friday night “art-walk” with vendors selling food and art and people from all over come and enjoy the balmy Hawaiian breeze. Our group began the evening by sitting in a circle in the park, praying before going out. Our leaders asked us to express our feelings in order to pray against any fear so that we would go out in boldness allowing God to speak through us. I remember sitting there feeling surprisingly calm.
I had been dreading this night but as I sat there I felt at peace and I knew that God was with me.
We were partnered up with another member and I was paired with one of our staff members, which was simply intimidating. We had a goal of praying for at least one person and things went so smoothly that we prayed for probably 3 or 4 people.
It’s surprising how receptive people are to prayer; it really makes them feel loved and noticed. You should try it some time.
My first night of street evangelism went so well that those Friday nights grew to be one of my favourite things that we did in Hawaii.
I got excited to share the gospel with people I didn’t even know. Don’t ask me how this happened because even as I write it, it sounds a little bit crazy and way out of character for me. All I can say is that God was changing my heart, I didn’t let my fear stop me and God used that in powerful ways.
Photo Credits: Naomi Priddle. . Photo 1 - Naomi on a roof in the Himalayas; Photo 2 - Naomi with team at the Hanapepe Art Walk
By: Naomi Priddle