"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
"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
“Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)
It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that I have finished my degree. Even typing that statement feels surreal. I will be honest with you, and say that it’s terrifying to leave my safe bubble of university life to go out and be a “real adult” in the “real world”. I woke up this morning to go to work, wishing that I could be getting ready for school instead. While I classify myself as someone who thinks 10 steps ahead, I was finding myself wanting to take a couple steps back.
Graduating is scary. In the weeks since I finished my degree, I realized that school had become my safety net. Having been studying for several years, I felt comfortable going to class, working on assignments, remaining in a contained and safe “school bubble”. While my classes were challenging; school felt like a big cozy blanket. On the other hand, graduating feels like a cold winter morning when I am snuggled up under my duvet and my mom comes into my room, ripping the covers off while telling me that I need to get up and get going.
I believe that God does that sometimes; removes our comforts and pushes us into the cold world where people are waiting on us to do something because He knows that we are ready. We’ve learned enough and we are sufficiently equipped to launch. God constantly wants us to grow in order to further His Kingdom. But growing often means leaving things behind; graduating from our different “comfort zones”. A lot of the time, we want to wait until things are safe and perfect before we remove the covers. A lot of times, God does things before we feel ready. We must trust that He knows best, that His timing is best and believe that He will always walk with us.
God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. (Psalm 18:30, NLT)
I urge you to look at areas of your life and see if there are things from which you need to graduate. Maybe it’s a group of friends who bring you down instead of encouraging you. Maybe it’s a bad habit that keeps hanging on and preventing you from being all that God has called you to be – gossip, an unhealthy lifestyle, too much time on social media, excessive shopping?
Is God calling you to “graduate” into a leadership role in your church or community instead of hiding behind bad habits or behind the scenes?
God has a plan for each one of us and the “covers” we cling to may well be standing in the way of God’s plan and the future He has in store for you. What covers may God want to remove from you, and from what comfort zones do you sense you need to graduate?
When I graduated Junior High, my mom gave me a gift-book containing the story to a song, along with the CD, that is still a "go-to" song I listen to when I feel like crawling back under the covers. It's a song that many of you may know but I'd like to share it with you today in the context of this message.
I hope you dance!
By: Yelena Knight
“FATHERS & DAUGHTERS"
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV)
We are thrilled to honour the fathers in our church family with this special blog featuring answers to a series of questions we posed to one of our dad’s. As a father of a daughter (and two sons), two daughters-in-law and four granddaughters, Neil understands the father-daughter bond. Here he shares some of his insights and experiences.
Where did you get your parenting ideas from?
How unaware was I of the amazing experiences or the huge responsibility that awaited me as I held our first child for the first time! Born to Pat and me, on November 16,1983 was a beautiful and healthy baby girl, we named Noriko. Pat and I were both dentists trained at university to pursue this career however we received no formal training to be parents.
My parents were both second generation Japanese-Canadians, and raised us with a goal of providing lots of opportunities to succeed. My dad worked hard to support us and was involved in our sports activities by coaching or just being there. He was loyal to his family, didn’t verbally teach us but we learned from his example. My mom, well, she was always there meeting all our needs by her actions in a gentle way. That experience in my family was the basis of the idea that one day I wanted to get a job, get married and be a father.
Pat and I both became Christians while at dental school. For me that was in 1976 and from that moment on I became very aware that God had a plan for my life which initially confirmed I was to be a dentist. I was so relieved that I began to turn to Him for guidance on other areas of life like getting married, where to live, where to go to church, when to have kids. When Noriko came, I had already experienced a dental situation where I was afraid. I was desperate and turned to God and He was there for me. I was also involved as a leader in our church’s youth group and was becoming aware of the responsibility parents have in providing an environment where God is first. I was burdened by the desire to see our kids come to faith as I believed that a sincere faith in God would be their best chance of navigating through life successfully and making good choices.
How did you see your role as dad influence them in that regard?
Somehow, I knew that to be Noriko’s dad, I would need all the help I could get. I realized that I had to be intentional in my role as a father and found books, tapes and, courses on raising children. As well, we hung out with other families who shared our concerns. As I grew as a Christian, the Bible became central in my life and verses such as Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (quoted above) and Proverbs 22:6 (NET) “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it. “had huge impacts.
I knew that if our children were to see the importance of faith, my faith had to be sincere and I had to share with them how much I needed God. I couldn’t rely on the church to do it all. I recall reading something that said something along the line of, “what you learn in the first six years of life lays a deep foundation” and I recognized that our impact, as parents was definite.
We began to have nightly devotions, we supported our kids in all their activities and with Noriko, I started to have “daddy-daughter dates”. During our family times, we talked about their behaviour, their attitudes and related them to pleasing God. Teaching about forgiveness as a life time activity was important. It was while doing this that I realized I couldn’t teach what I didn’t do myself. Hey, I wasn’t a perfect parent and at times, I had to say I was sorry and ask for their forgiveness, sometimes to a 3-year-old.
The reality is that there is a freedom in knowing what’s the right thing to do, even if it is difficult to do. There is an even greater freedom when you do it! Another reality is that your kids will eventually see what you really believe is important. It begins when they see how we are spending our time. Are we spending enough time with them?
I became very intentional about being organized so I could be home to participate in our kids’ activities and to just be there. I even sacrificed some of my own activities. Something significant happened as a result: I learned more about our kids as I observed how they responded to the situations that arose in their activities. For example, I witnessed their discovery of fairness, their fulfilment of doing something they didn’t think they could, their disappointments, giving up, selfishness, selflessness, etc.
How do you think the “father-daughter” relationship affect the daughter as she walks into adulthood?
May I share my story to help answer this question?
When Pat was pregnant with our first child, deep down I really wanted a girl and God blessed us with Noriko. She became special for many reasons as we watched her blossom. She loved being a little girl; so, dresses, dolls and, playing house were parts of her world of imagination. At the same time, she was right in the middle of a ball hockey game. She loved being the big sister to her two brothers who would do anything with her. As she grew older, she traded in her ballet costume for hockey equipment getting tired of just watching her brothers. She always had friends but her family was important. We shared special “father-daughter dates.” Somehow, I was aware when Noriko was a child that I was the first man to take her seriously and that my attention to her would someday influence who her choice of the second man would be. How I responded to situations was therefore influenced by that awareness.
Case in point: Piano practice at age 8. It was a daily struggle to encourage, push and yet know when to stop and not exasperate Noriko. I certainly didn’t have all the answers. So much seemed to depend on her mood, her state of fatigue, what else was on her mind etc. She seemed to think she was right when sometimes she wasn’t and when I corrected her she often disagreed.
As she got older she did start to grow up. At 14 she wrote me this note: “I want you to know that I am trying to accept the fact you won’t always be there for me because of baseball. I love you in spite of everything. Love Noriko ps. Please don’t coach summer baseball. HaHa”
Noriko reflected on the value of life including the people in her life; this she expressed well on Hallmark cards and I always looked forward to Father’s Day. On Father’s Day in the year she was to be married she wrote: “You were the best daddy in the world, a great friend and now tied for # 1 in important men in her life.”
I do believe how we treat our daughters influences the kind of person they look for in a husband. They want to be loved and cared for unconditionally and, to be in a secure relationship. This fact is mentioned often in some of those parenting books I used to read and those that dealt with the importance of the father–daughter relationship. As well, a healthy marriage influences the security of our daughters as they begin their own adult lives.
At some point, we have all messed up as parents. What do you say to parents who are struggling in their relationships; is there hope?
I want to emphasize that there is hope, no matter how badly we have messed up. We all have weaknesses which also show up while we parent. This lets everyone down; therefore, the challenges in parenting will give us opportunities to see something about ourselves.
To begin, harmonious relationships within a family are one of God’s richest blessings. Think about that statement. How strongly you believe that will influence how you respond to your situation. I have read this to be true from those older than me, believed it and desired it especially when we faced our challenges.
Secondly, believe God knows the situation so, cast that care upon Him because He cares about you and is waiting with open arms. (1 Peter 5:7) Acknowledge that you are helpless and need help, His help. This is a good place to start because you are also acknowledging responsibility in the relationship and that you are in part responsible for it’s present condition.
God has a plan for you as He did for me. Apologize and ask for forgiveness without expectation. This is unconditional love. Be on a journey of asking God to reveal how He wants to change you. Our personal growth gives us teaching opportunities to share how we need God to help us be better parents. Then, commit more time to your relationship so you can get to know your kids better. I understand that depending on the age and situation this can be easier or more difficult. Finally turn to a friend who shares your concern, to trusted and godly parents within your church family, or otherwise, or turn to your pastor.
Finally consider this: you are giving your daughter a process for dealing with struggles that she will face both now and in the future and perhaps even the confidence to enter one. I’d say that is a gift; don’t you?
By: Neil Fukumoto
“TAKING IT TO THE LORD IN PRAYER…AT LAST”
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. (Philippians 4:6 AMP)
My first blog ever… the need to write down what was in my head and my heart came to me during one of my many sleepless nights.
As I write this, I am on a doctor’s highly-recommended sick leave for anxiety attacks and depression. It was God’s gentle nudge for me to give Him control of my life. I trusted God, or so I thought. Yet I’ve always felt that I had to be the strong person and hold everything together, or die trying. Why couldn’t I let someone else take control? Why couldn’t I let God take control? He hinted at it often enough.
I lay in bed during the night trying to count my blessings, a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) action to help me sleep. Instead I found myself counting the many “hats” I had been wearing, upwards of 17. These didn’t just include the obvious - wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, but also the causes, volunteer jobs, and worries I had taken up over the years through my inability to say no or my reluctance to hand things over to God.
Sometime ago, I recall listening to a television preacher whose motto was, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” Wanting to “help” God, I took on all the causes that came my way, extra tasks at work, charity work, filling in where there were no volunteers, etc. I was always rushing in and saying, “It’s okay God, I’ll handle this. You go do what You need to do.” What audacity! What blasphemy!
In addition to all those duties, I was dealing with my husband’s illness and unemployment, a wedding, the illnesses and stresses in our family, cancer diagnosis of two friends, and the death of a close relative. It seemed to be one incident after another with the weight getting progressively heavier with each addition. Until, I couldn’t breathe and ended up in the emergency room.
It was at the bottom of this pile of “hats” that I had gotten lost. Though I knew that in my head, I had difficulty transferring it to my heart. My identity was tied to what I was doing for others at the neglect of what I needed to do for myself. I kept identifying myself by what I thought I was doing as a “good” Christian instead of being secure in God and allowing Him to lead my steps.
It was through the weight of all these “hats” on my shoulders that God forced me to bow my head. I had to become weak in order for God to build up my strength in Him and not myself. I had to acknowledge that I was not the one to fix the world. So, while I thought I was giving God my all; I was emptying myself in “activities” and losing myself in the process.
I have spent much of my time-off reading the Bible and sitting in prayer. I am learning to relinquish control to the only One who can handle it all and to truly know that He is in control, and I’m not. I am understanding that I can help when He wants me to, but I can’t take on the world.
I have taken to heart these words from the Casting Crowns song, “Just be Held”.
“Hold it all together... Everybody needs you strong ...But life hits you out of nowhere ... And barely leaves you holding on...And when you're tired of fighting... Chained by your control... There's freedom in surrender... Lay it down and let it go ... I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held”
What an incredible God!
I can just stop doing what I was doing and just be. Now, I realize that the best way for me to serve God is to let go, stop, allow His peace to come over me and be served for a change. I am learning to allow God to direct me where He wants me. He has forced me to rest so I can give Him my best when or where He calls me to serve. It was in giving up all my activities that finally made clear to me that my main tasks right now are to pray, ask for forgiveness, and let Him heal and love me.
By: Bev Charles
“MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS"
For this week’s post, we asked some of our mothers and daughters to finish a simple sentiment: “I value my mom/(in-law) or daughter/(in-law) because _____.” We are thrilled to share these beautifully expressed sentiments with you.
We are also featuring a glimpse into a mother-daughter relationship from Pastor Lynda.
First, here’s what some of our moms and daughters had to say:
"I value my daughter-in-law (Leslie) because she has such a zest for life, puts God first and has an attitude of gratitude.” ~ Bev C
“I value my daughter-in-law (Jen) because she’s an incredible mom and her children are loving, brave and independent. She has taught them to love the world and to learn and explore.” ~ Bev C
"I value (love) my mother-in-law (Bev) because she has the biggest heart and is always thinking of others". ~ Leslie C
“I value my mom because of her selflessness, generosity and supportive nature. I truly admire her unwavering faith in the good of all people.” ~ Jen C
Bev, Leslie & Jen
“I value my daughters because - well I looked up the definition of what it means to value a person and synonyms of value. There is so much I could say why I value my daughters… I value how they have always, from a young age, shown no partiality to people around them, they have always been caring and there for their friends. They have stood for what they believe in and have grown into caring, giving, beautiful young ladies. God has blessed me with two wonderful daughters.” ~ Carol W
"I value my mom because she selflessly cares for my sister and myself as well is a person who is always available for advice even for the little things like finding Oxo in the grocery store." ~ Amanda W
Carol & Amanda
“I value my daughter because she is continuously determined to strive to be the best person she can be.” ~ Lisa J
“I value my mom because her strength with mental illness and everyday living is tremendous! She is the most loving person, always giving unknown people a chance. She inspires me to continue on with my own life journeys no matter the struggle!” ~ Sheena T
Lisa & Sheena
“I value my daughter because - Pamela is caring, conscientious and thoughtful and she is raising two lovely 'grand'children.” ~ Myrna S
“I value my mother because she is caring and attentive to all of her children. She is especially interested in each of her grandchildren, near and far. She is available when anyone needs her.” ~ Pam S
Myrna & Pam
“I value my daughters-in-law because they are truly a gift from God, not blood related but so very special to me in such a way that I can talk freely to them about anything and everything ... they have helped me cultivate the most amazing bond that I have with my 5 grandchildren. I love them dearly.” ~ Sue B
“I value my mother- in-law because she always promotes, models and values love and acceptance. There are ways that we are so similar and ways that we are so different and she goes out of her way to show her love in both aspects. I feel so blessed to have such an incredible role model and support in Sue. 🌸❤️🌸” ~ Emily B
“I value my mother-in-law because she is the true definition of a mother, she is always there to give advice, love, support, encouragement, strength, kindness, and warmth to myself, and to her entire family.” ~ Vanessa B
Sue, Emily & Vanessa
“I value my daughter because of her authentic inner beauty, her honesty, strength of character, perseverance, support and passion for living a whole and healthy life. Every day, I thank God for gifting her to me.” ~ Yolande K
“I value my mom because she’s always there for me. Whether it’s a listening ear, for a movie night, or for just a hug in silence when I’m sad, my mom is always there. I’m so blessed to have my mommy – she’s truly amazing! ~ Yelena K
Yolande & Yelena
“WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE A DAUGHTER”
All I ever wanted as a child was to be a wife and mother. The birth of our first son brought more joy and satisfaction to me than I ever thought possible. I felt my life was complete but it wasn’t long after that I knew I wanted another child. I really believed that no child should have to be an only child as I had been. I was certain that our second baby would be a girl; my mother even began knitting in pink. Nine months passed quickly with joyful anticipation. Surprise, surprise—our second son was born.
Several years went by and I dreamed of a little girl but thought it was never to be. November 30th arrived very early at the Sinclair household. By 5 a.m., for the first time I was witnessing birth from very close quarters. The joy and astonishment of our daughter’s arrival still leaves me in awe.
So, what did it mean to have a daughter?
It meant a closet full of tiny dresses. Very quickly it meant someone to giggle with over cute kittens and cuter babies, cute bugs, and soon cute boys.
Our daughter wanted to wear my clothes, use my makeup, she ruined my nylons and shared in my baths and wanted to marry my husband, and live forever with her big brothers!
Having a daughter meant trying to master French braids (which I never did manage to do with any level of proficiency), and pony tails, and big bows on frilly dresses.
At 8 years of age that daughter began going out on “dates” with her father. She wore all her best clothes, dad ordered flowers, made “reservations” and held car doors and off they’d go to a fancy restaurant where Dad had told the staff the circumstances so they would make a great fuss over the “young lady”. We hoped that Dad was setting a high standard for the young men yet to come.
As a teen, she agonized over what to wear on a date and begged for my approval and then changed her mind because if mom liked it then it must be all wrong!
Our daughter begged to be taught how to use the sewing machine. She wanted to be taught how to cook. Poor pity me who tried to teach her how to put in a zipper, make cream sauce or boil a potato.
By the time she became a teenager, our daughter wanted very little to do with mom or dad; we had become old fashioned and out-of-date. Family outings were only tolerated and very little enjoyment was ever admitted unless the outing involved shopping and money being spent on her.
She wanted to go to school in England and Europe and hardly looked back once she boarded the airplane. However, she called home often and talked for hours with an openness not seen since Junior High. She even asked me to come to Europe and travel with her for Spring Break. On that trip, one experience showed me just how much she needed mom as she chose to sleep in a single bed with me, though her own bed was a mere foot away, when we spent time in a particularly seedy budget hotel in Paris. It didn’t completely stop her from wanting her own space and regularly going off on her own, but it was reassuring to be needed.
Years went by and our daughter married and moved to Seattle. In the beginning, there were constant phone calls asking how to make cream sauce and how to cook potatoes. “Do I remove those pointy things? (Where was she when I was trying to show her these things?) How do I thread the sewing machine? How do I know if I have chicken pox? What should I wear to the party? What do I say to the landlord? What do I say to my boss?”
The years are going by. Our daughter is an amazing homemaker and wonderful cook. I regularly call to ask her for recipes. She can do more with potatoes than I ever dreamed. Her many sauces and dressings leave me salivating. She has managed to teach her children to navigate the kitchen with more expertise than I ever thought possible. Her 12-year-old son, our grandson, is even a whiz in the kitchen. She gives me advice on what I should wear. She is a great source of suggestions for home decorating. She is so organized! I wish I could be like her. I cherish her advice on so many things and it was our daughter who came from Seattle and sat with me as we watched my own mother dying and cried with me as I got the call that my mom had gone.
My dream of motherhood has been fulfilled. It has had many challenges but also delights beyond measure. I praise the Lord for granting me my childish longing. All of our children are the joy of our lives. Their spouses and children are wonderful miracles that we have been granted. We thank the Lord continually for placing all these amazing people in our lives.
By: Lynda Sinclair
“MY LIFE A TAPESTRY?”
"I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God." (Colossians 2:2 - MSG)
"For you fashioned my inmost being, knit me together in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13 - Complete Jewish Bible 2016)
I recently had the privilege of looking at a piece of art, painted by my 12-year old grandson, Ethan, who is gifted with this talent. To my untrained eyes, it is simply a painting of trees and if I had painted it, I would have used brown for the tree trunks; after all, tree trunks are brown. Instead, Ethan painted the trunks using a blend of blues, whites and reds resulting in a pinkish look which in fact, looks more like the real thing. (He takes art classes and watches videos of Bob Ross; an American painter and host of art shows on TV and Netflix.)
The colour of the trees stands out making them pop, but there is so much more; the depth of this painting is revealed when a light is shone on it. The trees appear to emerge and the light reveals a forest behind and you see layers of darkness. One can see into the depths of the picture and recognize more than the trees at the front. It is both beautiful and captivating!
I love colourful trees with their branches and leaves but I'm drawn to the depth of the forest behind. So much happens there and it got me thinking of my life, of life in general. As I walk into the forest behind the trees, I see recent places I've been; places where my trust has wavered and worry and fear took hold. I should have known better but that is easy to say when looking back. Not so easy when lost in the gloom!
A few steps deeper and I face angry thoughts that became words flung carelessly about. I should have held my tongue until I had control. Farther in the shadows, I find the cage of depression. It took a long time to stop rattling and clanging its door. And yet it still will try to snare me.
Farther and farther I travel and meet the years of living on my own, not knowing Christ. I call these the “dark years". And then to childhood and saying goodbye to my Mum, my mainstay; the one who would have helped me navigate the twisting roads of life. In all our lives, we have dark places; places where we suffered, places we lived in pain of every kind, places that rip us apart if we let our thoughts go there even for a minute.
"If I say,"Let darkness surround me, let the light around me be night," even darkness like this is not too dark for you; rather, night is as clear as day, darkness and light are the same." (Psalm 139:11-12 - Complete Jewish Bible)
What to us is dark and shameful, to God is redeemed and covered with his love. When we look at a painting or tapestry, we see a marvelous blend of colours, light and dark. The dark shades of our past create depth upon which God shines all his brilliance and light, bringing forward his work in us. So, as I look at my grandson's painting, I see depth and growth in the shadows and brilliant life in the foreground. This is what my life is!
I'm not exempt from making more shadows, but I'm assured the shadow will be the highlight behind more light.
And this is what our life is; an exquisite work of art, painted, molded, sculpted by the Master's hand. "…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).
You walked beside me every day
Along each step I took
In darkness and in light you went
And never me forsook
Through dark and dreary times
When I didn't know my way
When I was lost and couldn't cry
Beside me you did stay
The time had come
For me to know
The saver of my soul
My heart began to stir within
My eyes began to see
My mind opened to the possibility
That you had been with me
The times of loneliness
The times of fear and dread
They try to mess my thoughts
And make me think I'm dead
But you, O Lord, have said “NO MORE!"
"Within the shadows of your life my glorious light now shows.
And whatever comes to pass, you'll never be alone."
"And all the dark and shadows do is highlight all your growth!"
By Jennifer Greene
Hillsong’s song “Tapestry” perfectly captures the message of this blog.
Reflect on these powerful lyrics.
AM I MY BROTHER'S KEEPER?
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. (Romans 14:7 ESV)
Our world today is becoming more and more divisive. With the election south of the border, Brexit in Britain, and all the anxieties about refugees and terrorists, you can't help but feel that there is something seriously going wrong in our world.
Fear causes a "fortress mentality" and can result in negative thinking – “we need to look after ourselves and not others”, “they are stealing what we have”, “keep them out”, “let them look after themselves - we aren't responsible for their troubles”, “they can't have our jobs”, “America first”. It's becoming an “I'm ok and they can look after themselves” kind of world. Along with all this comes some very mean- spirited talk and vilification for those who don't share our views or are just different. “Lock her up” and “He's not my president” are just two such examples.
Now, I don't particularly want to talk about politics, but I do think that observing how people behave should cause us all to review our own actions and make sure not to forget Jesus' lessons to us and his commandments. As ambassadors for Christ, we are called to a higher standard of behaviour.
Three thoughts come to mind.
First of all, where do we put our trust? Why are we afraid? Are we being deceived? How do we stay grounded in Christ while the whole world seems to be going crazy?
In Psalm 20:7 the Bible tells us, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."
In March of 1998, I had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Haiti with a group from Arlington Woods Church. I well remember that after we arrived in Port-au-Prince I was terrified, not only after hearing the instructions from the missionary who met us, but from the extreme poverty evident in the sights on the streets. My fears were not lessened when we got to the hotel and I looked at the very strange food, to my North American palate, that was being served. Our journey the next day to the northern interior town of Dessalines merely added to my disorientation and multiplied my discomfort. Although I had traveled a bit, I had never been in a third world country and the culture shock was immediate and frightening. I had a very negative reaction and was overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and poverty that was everywhere. Though I had done my homework beforehand, I was essentially unprepared for the situation we found ourselves in. It did not take me long to realize that I needed to put my faith in action, so I prayed harder and depended more on God to take control of the situation and help me to adjust my reactions. I thought long and hard about my surroundings as I prayed, and was somewhat surprised at how well this worked. By the third day, I was much more comfortable and had adjusted to our new reality. I have never forgotten the experience.
Depending entirely on God completely changed my perspective. The spiritual battle we live in became real for me in a new way and has since caused me to try to maintain that attitude. Two weeks later on our return to Canada, I had a whole different reaction to events at home. We arrived just after the shootings at Columbine; the spiritual battle was then much clearer to see.
Bad things do happen to good people, but that is when the rubber meets the road. That is when God can tangibly come alongside us and hold us up. Our reactions can show others that we are different and truly have something they want.
Second, we are to show God's love to others at all times. We are called to make a difference and to be our brother's keeper. This means we need to be looking for opportunities to share what we have been given, and to give a cup of cold water to those who need it.
Mark 12: 30-31 says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
We are called to be channels of Christ's love in our world. We must be salt and light so that others will be drawn to Jesus through our example. Jesus expects it. This is part of our job here on earth.
Finally, rejoice! You are a child of the King. Be full of thanksgiving. Never be consumed by what you think you see or hear around you. Remember, Jesus is Lord.
James 5: 13-16 tells us, “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come & pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, & the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other & pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power & produces wonderful results.”
By: Lynne Willoughby
Enjoy this beautiful rendition of “Hold us Together” by Matt Maher performed on the “Glory Revealed Tour” and featuring Mac Powell from Third Day, Mike Donehey from Tenth Avenue North, and more.