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Starting Again… September 14th, 2018

"Starting Again..."

I will set out and go back to my father…” Luke 15:18a (NIV)

There is something to be said about distance; something about picking yourself up and leaving something behind, because you no longer want to be held captive by whatever was holding you down. The older I get, the easier I can recognize it! There is often a lot said about walking away from something, and never turning back, but I want to talk about going back to something that maybe you should not have walked away from or walking away from something that you thought was not for you.

It takes a certain amount of humility to return, doesn’t it? Tail between your legs, head down to the ground, total humility. It’s about going back to your mom after being away for a while because you thought the world was better than your family or returning to a marriage you had given up on. It’s going back to a place you maybe shouldn’t have left.

It can be terrifying! It can bring you back down to earth incredibly quickly. Until it becomes a matter of returning to the place that is home; the familiar and nurturing place where you find acceptance in spite of your shortcomings.

How often have you had to return to your faith home? Or are you in a place where you need to return?

I’m not talking about a physical church building, though it could be that too, but the home that is in Christ; returning to the Father.

Does this get you thinking about the story of the prodigal son? If you’re not familiar with that parable, you can find it here. It doesn’t have to be that dramatic or severe, but a return may be the next thing that you need to do in your faith journey. This is something that has been on my own heart lately, as I began to sense a disconnect; a bit of a distance from “home”.

Recently, I returned to a job which I had boldly left months ago. I was onto bigger and better things and was ready to become a full-fledged independent boss lady. Pretty quickly, I realized that this new place, that seemed shiny when I was looking from a distance, really wasn’t for me. Though I always had the option of returning to my original position, I knew that it would take a certain amount of humility, admitting I made a wrong move, and that I missed the place I called my “work home”. I remember how nervous I was to tell my former boss, that I wanted to come back. I was expecting a bit of frustration, even rejection, and was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome back I received.

It was like receiving the prodigal son’s robe, ring and celebration – I received a warm hug, and pure joy that I had returned. I’ve never felt more valued in a work setting before!

Jesus is like this – though better! When we stray, and honestly, we will all have seasons when we are a bit farther away from Him than others; it’s the ebb and flow of a human relationship with a Holy God.  But He is waiting for us; arms open, with a warm hug, and our very own robes, rings and celebration. We see this in a series of parables recorded in Luke 15.  In each of the illustrations, something is lost, and each time, the owner, representing the Father, searches for it; leaving the other items (99) to search for the one.

It’s so amazing to me when anyone gives me a second chance, but especially when God, the perfect being gives me chance, after chance, after chance. I screw up in countless ways and would have given up on me a long time ago. Thankfully, God never will.

I’m not sure what your story is; maybe you’re in a great place with your faith, where you’re excited to meet God every day. Maybe you’re feeling a bit over it, going through the motions, like you’re trying for no reason because nothing changes (hello, I’ve been there). Maybe you’ve given up all together, and are ready to move to the next place, city, relationship, job, family.... I’m not sure where this message meets you, but I hope it encourages you to return to your home, return to the place that can’t go wrong, even when it feels like there is a better way, a better, shinier home. There isn’t one.

Will it be easy? Probably not. Usually, when we have to return to our faith home, it means leaving behind a bit of mess. Maybe it’s a life of deceit, or a relationship that reduces you, or even habits that will lead to destruction. But take the step, He will meet you, and help you.

It’s never too late, never met with anger and you will not be turned away. You will be received with warmth and acceptance. Ask God for the courage to return and the humility to go back and start again.

 

By: Yelena & Yolande Knight

Allow these powerful, yet simple lyrics of this song "I Wanna Go Back" by David Dunn to resonate with you.

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Guest Comment 2 months ago
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Yelena, thank you for always being so authentic with your experiences. We certainly learn and grow from the experiences of others (as well as our own). So happy that the blog is back. Thank you. xo

The Collision of God & Sin - March 30, 2018

“The Collision of God & Sin”
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)
 
"The cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. Never associate the idea of martyrdom with the Cross of Christ. It was the supreme triumph, and it shock the very foundations of hell. There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable that what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross - He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God. The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus – He came to die; the Cross was His purpose for coming. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating “God was manifested in the flesh…” from “…He made Him…to be sin for us…” (1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.
 
The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The Cross is God exhibiting His nature. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there. The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. 
 
The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God."
 
Devotion taken from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest - Holy Week Edition
 
 
Enjoy this Elevation Worship song, "Resurrecting" that celebrates the fact that Jesus is alive. 
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Guest Comment 8 months ago
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Such powerful truths in both the devotional and the song. Thanks. xo

Trust Issues - February 23, 2018

"TRUST ISSUES"

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

Trust Issues. It’s more than a Drake song, it’s something that many of us experience.

I can’t think of a person walking on this earth (even though I know like, five people), who has not experienced some kind of hurt that resulted in a break in trust. I can think of so many personal examples where I trusted in someone and that trust was broken by an action. It hits us in our core, and it hurts. If this happens to us enough times, it can make us not want to trust anyone (hands up if that’s you).

Lo and behold, a package of trust issues manifests. You will, of course, convince yourself that you are “protecting yourself”, and you are “wiser now than before”, because you refuse to believe that people can do good, can help, can truly and genuinely care without wanting anything in return. Of course, there is an element of guardedness required in life when it comes to trust – you should absolutely not trust in everyone you come across, that’s silly. However, what I’m writing about is when the pendulum swings too far one way, and you won’t trust in anyone at all out of fear.

Fear. How many of us want to admit that trust issues are a result of fear? I sure didn’t; I have told myself the above a million and ten times – I am just smarter now than before (and, I must add, I absolutely am). But my pendulum swung so hard the other way that I wouldn’t let anyone in. I was (and honestly, I still am) scared to meet new people, to let friends fully in, to allow myself to believe in the good of others. How many times have I blocked myself from meaningful and fulfilling relationships because of trust issues? This is important, but I think the bigger question is this: how many times have I blocked myself from a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with Christ because of my earthly trust issues?

A recent message at church (link here) really shook me to my core. Do I truly trust God, or am I putting in all of these terms and conditions for my trust?

Why am I acting as though God needs to earn my trust, when He doesn’t need to prove that he’s got my back? How have I allowed myself to put human conditions on God?

I will admit that I don’t always totally trust God, which seems almost blasphemous to say. I love God, believe that He’s good, and believe the Word. However, because of human hurts, and life circumstances I still don’t totally understand, I sometimes doubt that He has my back.

I love the story that many of us know well: Jesus calling Peter to walk on water found in Matthew 14:22-32. We can lose some of the meaning of the story by the sheer amazement of someone actually walking on water. Peter trusts Jesus while walking until he didn’t, until he thought about sinking. (vv. 29-31). When he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink, crying out for Jesus to save him; almost forgetting the fact that he was walking on water before. How often are we “walking on water”, focusing on Jesus, and not our problems, and then we lose sight of that, look at our earthly circumstances, get scared, and begin to sink, forgetting that Jesus was there all along.

That is exactly what happens when we stop trusting in God, and look at our circumstance.  It goes something like this: we stop trusting in God, look at how other imperfect humans have let us down, and lose hope. We forget that God is God; He is different. We cannot measure Him by human standards or through our human experiences.

In order to have a full and lasting relationship with God, we have to take the step toward truly trusting Him. Really. That means not always knowing what’s going to happen, or seeing the full picture.

Because if we knew it all beforehand, it wouldn’t be faith, would it?

By:  Yelena Knight

 Lauren Daigle's Song "Trust in You" is a perfect reminder of how we need to let go and let God.

 

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Guest Comment 9 months ago
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I think that most of us struggle with trust at some point in our journeys and it's always encouraging to hear how others are working through that aspect of their faith walk. Thank you Yelena. xo

Tree-Sight vs Full Sight - January 19, 2018

 

"Tree-Sight vs Full-Sight”       

 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:24-25 ESV)

The first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, Helen Keller, is quoted to have said that “the only thing worse than having no sight is to have sight but no vision.”

Ouch!

This Helen Keller reference makes me think about the story of the blind man whom Jesus healed at Bethsaida. You know the one: the strange encounter when this man was brought to Jesus to be touched and Jesus took the man outside the village to heal him. Read it in its entirety here (Mark 8:22-26).

Perhaps, like me, you were so hung up on the manner in which the healing occurred, (come on, Jesus spitting on the man’s eyes is definitely bizarre behaviour), that you missed some of the gems of the story. After all, we’ve seen this “spitting thing” before but never quite like this.

On two other occasions, (see Mark 7:33 & John 9:6), we have recorded accounts of Jesus using spit in the performance of a miracle, but this is the only account of a miracle when Jesus did a healing in two touches and the only recorded miracle in all of the four gospels where Jesus asks a question of the person being healed.

Though I am only speculating about the reasons for what I consider to be key elements, some theologians have also noted these points as having illustrative or other importance in our Christian walk. 

Some of you may be interested in delving deeper and can study the significance of factors such as, the fact that this was a private healing, the place the miracle took place, the timing of the miracle and how it is interpreted in the larger story of Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection.  Bethsaida was the hometown of Peter, Andrew, and Phillip, and this was Mark’s last recorded miracle of Jesus in Galilee as He headed to the cross. It was also the signal of the end of Jesus’ public ministry; His remaining time was spent in private teaching and discipleship of the Twelve as He prepared them for His death.

Did you also wonder how this blind man knew what trees looked like? Could it be that he wasn’t always blind?

I will say this: I believe that this story is an illustration of spiritual vision, and like the disciples then, how our spiritual sight comes in stages. Like the physically blind man in Mark’s story, whose healing started with a little sight and then became full sight; our spiritual lives are the same. We are people who were in darkness, received partial sight (tree-sight) and our hope is for God to restore us to full sight where we see everything clearly.

This account has also caused me to think about my own life and how sometimes, I tend to have “tree-sight”, when I see things through my own eyes, and not fully, as God would have me see them. It’s in those moments that I need that second touch from God where I can have full sight.  

How about you?

 

 By: Yolande A. Knight - womensministry@arlingtonwoods.ca

 

I'd like to share one of my all-time favourite worship songs that helps to usher me into a time of drawing closer to God as I seek Him for healing by Christy Nockels - "Healing is in Your Hands"

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Guest Comment 10 months ago
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Wow! Tree sight - makes me think of the expression "can't see the forest for the trees"- when people get so bogged down with the details that they miss the vision. Very deep insights and a great perspective on this passage.Thanks Yolande.

Brought out...to be Brought in! - November 24, 2017

"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.

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Guest Comment 1 year ago
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Thank you for being real Yelena.I like that Kristene quote too as it has been my reality on more than a couple occasions. Thank you for always being authentic. xo
Julie Hogeboom 11 months ago
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Thank you Yelena, for sharing from your heart and for your vulnerability. Our life is a journey and we are always learning to trust him for direction, and peace in the unknown and often scary days ahead. JH

Remembering - November 10, 2017

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"Remembering..."

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 - womensministry@arlingtonwoods.ca

 

Let the words of this song from the Passion movement speak to you as you “Remember” featuring Brett Younker & Melodie Malone.

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Guest Comment 1 year ago
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Powerful insights! Remembering definitely helps to build our faith and gives us courage to go forward as we look back and see God's hand in even the tough steps of our journeys. Thanks. xo

Fear Not - October 27, 2017

"Fear Not!"

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 - womensministry@arlingtonwoods.ca

 

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.

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Guest Comment 1 year ago
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It's so easy to feel ill-equipped, unqualified and overly aware of our own deficiencies that we are afraid to step into our calling - whatever that may be. Knowing that God Himself has commissioned us into our calling should help us overcome any fears we may have. Today, thank God for His call on your life! Thanks for this post and thank you AWW for the "Called" Retreat. xo

Called by Name - October 13, 2017

"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 - womensministry@arlingtonwoods.ca

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Name - September 29, 2017

“NAME”

"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.

"Mary"

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?"

"Mary"

He KNEW her! He KNEW her name and he called her by her name!

"Mary"

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

 

 

 

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Guest Comment 1 year ago
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I can so relate to this - that missed opportunity to speak to someone I sensed could have used a word or encouragement or a listening ear. But, like you, I knew that I could pray and I knew that our Father in heaven would know her name and her circumstances. Thank you for that encouragement, Deborah. Can't wait to see you in Ottawa in two weeks time!! xo

Generational Blessings - September 22, 2017

                                                                                                                                   Photo Credit: T. Lau

"Generational Blessings"

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

 

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Thank you for this beautiful trip down memory lane Christine! It is truly a blessing to have such a rich family legacy - both your natural and church family. You are clearly functioning in your "sweet spot" as you quietly bless so many (kids
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(kids
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(kids and adults) in your ministry at AWFMC. Thanks again! xo

Please Call Back Later! - September 8, 2017

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.

If you find yourself avoiding calls like me, try listening for God’s gentle call for your life (perhaps at the fall retreat J).  God calls you to a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11b).

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

 

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Such truths and a great reminder that we are not called to an over-full life. Thanks Rozen! xo

Hall of Fame Faith - August 4, 2017

"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.

A person standing on top of a grass covered fieldDescription generated with very high confidence

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.

In the 1870s, he and His wife where part of the 50 original members of the Methodist church in the village and almost sixty years later, in 1932, John was on the Board of Stewards who oversaw the amalgamation of the Methodist and Presbyterian Church into the United Church.

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?

Photo of Delmar, his wife Grace with their children, far left Reynolds, Lorne, Lola, Gerald, Lillian, Lena.(Photo supplied by Great-granddaughter, Victoria Edwards)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. 

A person wearing a hatDescription generated with very high confidenceJames, 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).

A person wearing a suit and tieDescription generated with very high confidence

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)

 

 

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Such an honour to read these rich histories or real-time Hall of Faith-ers! This has certainly encouraged me to take a look back on my own faith journey and give thanks for those who've impacted my life in similar ways. Thanks Lynne. xo