Editorial Note: We are thrilled to bring you the following blog which was written and first published on July 16th, 2020 by Melissa Reeve on her blog “Because of a Sticker”.
Published with permission.
OUR OWN TALENTS
There’s a story in the Bible about a man who goes on a trip, and hands out assignments while he’s gone. He gives 5 talents (a measurement of money) to one slave, 2 talents to a second slave, and 1 talent to a third slave. When the master returns home, the first slave has doubled his money. The second slave has also doubled his money. The third slave tells the master that he’s a harsh man who reaps where he hasn’t sown, and so the third slave was afraid and buried the money. He hands back his single talent. (Matthew 25:14-30)
There’s a lot of pressure on Christians to find a ministry, do it well, pour 100% of yourself into it, and see thousands of people make a decision to follow Christ. That’s not always realistic. Sure, everyone has a calling, a skill, a way to impact the world for Christ. I’m not saying anyone is unable to contribute. But not everyone is the apostle Paul.
In the Bible, we see people with all manner of skills and levels of ability be effective for God. We see people planting churches (Acts 14:1) and preaching to thousands (Acts 2:14-41). We see people sewing clothes for widows in the community (Acts 9:39). We see people performing miracles (Acts 14:3), and we see people donating money to brothers and sisters in Christ who live in poverty, even when they themselves had little to give (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). We see people make an impact on the world around them in large-scale, impressive ways, and we see people make an impact in smaller, less impressive ways.
You know what? Big and small were both recorded. We know that the apostle Peter gave a sermon that led thousands to believe in Christ. We also know that Tabitha sewed coats for widows. Both acts were considered important enough to preserve in the Bible.
I’ve struggled with the parable of the talents. Often there are only two points of focus: the slave who had 5 talents and doubled it, and the slave who misunderstood the master’s character and was too afraid to try. It becomes a binary issue: incredible success, or total failure. I’m not convinced that’s the point. After all, there is a slave who was successful with a middling amount of resources.
The second slave was given less responsibility. The master knew he was good at his job, but not as good as the first slave. Still, the second slave took what he was given, and did a great job. He wasn’t expected to keep up with someone who was noticeably more gifted. He was expected to live up to his own abilities, and he did. He did very well, and upon his return, the master said, “Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!” That’s exactly the same response the master had for the slave who had doubled 5 talents.
Two slaves did the best they could with what they were given. The master gave them reasonable expectations based on what he knew their capabilities to be. When the master returned, he congratulated them both on doing a good job.
God knows what gifts, talents, and abilities each person has. He gave them to us, after all. He gave some people the ability to plant churches. He gave some people the ability to sew clothes. Both are important to the people whose hearts they touch.
It’s easy to look at how we’re trying to serve God and our church community and feel like failures if we can’t personally point to several hundred people and say, “They found God because of me!” But that’s not reasonable. We’re not all gifted evangelists. Still, we all have our gifts, and are expected to use them the best we can.
It takes the pressure off when we realize that God does not expect us to compare ourselves with others. We’re expected to live up to our own gifts and abilities. I’m not the apostle Paul. That’s okay. I don’t have to be. I don’t have to wonder if God is disappointed that I haven’t planted churches, started a Christian foundation, or held a meeting to tell thousands of people about Christ in one night. Maybe that’s just not my gift. If so, that’s okay. I just have to succeed at my own calling and stop looking at the callings of others.
By: Melissa Reeve
Hillsong's "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" seems fitting as we think of functioning in our giftings.
RUN WITH ENDURANCE
The famous quote by Dr. Phil, “life is a marathon, not a sprint” has taken on new meaning for me during this pandemic season. I’ve never ran a marathon though it has been on my bucket list for several years, but I have run both 10K and 5K races several times. The idea of running 42.2 kilometres (26.2 miles) for hours is not something to be taken on a whim, requiring months of training and a lot of discipline. As I looked into the origin of the marathon, I discovered the legend that marathons originated when a Greek soldier, who had just fought in the Battle of Marathon, ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver a message that the Persians had been defeated when he then collapsed and died. (Source: Wikipedia)
This very long haul of adhering to restrictions imposed by Public Health authorities, with the goal of flattening the coronavirus curve, has been difficult on many of us.
How are you holding up? And what are you doing to endure this marathon?
The writer of Hebrews was trying to encourage a group of believers (among others) who were getting worn down from rejection and persecution by fellow Jews and offered some practical advice to them which are equally relevant for us today as we run our race.
In Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV), the writer offers the following: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Emphasis Added)
I’ve highlighted the practical takeaways that I see from that passage for quick reference; did you catch them?
- A great cloud of witnesses – these not only refer to the people referenced in the previous "Hall of Faith" chapter (Hebrews 11), whom we can read about in God’s Word but also the godly leaders whom God has entrusted to us today, including those within our local church. QUESTION: Are you in God’s Word regularly and are you staying connected to your local church?
- Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles – those things would be different for each of us. “Everything” or “the weight” (used by some translations) are not necessarily things that are inherently wrong, but they are things that can slow us down as we run our race. QUESTION: What is that “thing” that may be slowing you down?
Similarly, the sin that so easily entangles (some translations use the term “besetting sin”) would be different for each of us. And we all have at least one of these! Perhaps it’s impatience that leads to angry outbursts, intolerance or hatred of others made in God’s image, gossip, slander, lying or cheating in the form of subtle inaccuracies that make you look more favourable to others. QUESTION: What is that besetting sin for you?
- Fixing our eyes on Jesus – We are encouraged to “fix” our eyes on Jesus. Fixing involves intentionality and determination. Part of “fixing” requires that we regularly reflect on what Jesus endured on the cross so that we have a solid understanding of how He is able to relate to our suffering AND it encourages us not to grow weary or lose heart. Did you notice the text mentions that Jesus sat down? That’s significant – it means that Jesus, our High Priest, is finished making atonement unlike the Jewish High Priests who used to have to go back repeatedly. Jesus did not stay on the cross, Sisters; He is now seated on the throne, interceding for you and me. QUESTION: How does this fact change your perspective of your current circumstances?
May I encourage you to reflect on the questions above in the coming week and know that God is on your side. Our Christian life was not intended to be easy especially when we attempt to do it on our own. But God has provided us all we need to run our race; Jesus saved us, and the Holy Spirit empowers us, so let us run with endurance and finish well by His grace!
By: Yolande A. Knight
Enjoy this new release by Mack Brock -"I Life My Eyes"
BE STILL & KNOW
Psalm 46:10 is one of my life verses and has helped to anchor me in times of great distress more often than I can count. As I say the words out loud, Be still and know that I am God, I am almost immediately taken to a place of serenity. Recently, I read that verse in the Passion translation and had a new appreciation for its impact.
Surrender your anxiety!
Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God.
I am the God above all the nations,
and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth. – Psalm 46:10 (Passion)
To my delight, several weeks ago, I learned of the change in plans for the Muskoka Bible Centre’s Women of Grace Spring Retreat when they announced they would be going virtual with a new theme based on this Psalm 46 verse. So, along with several of you (AWC women) we spent the greater part of a Saturday with hundreds of other women from around the world, at the Muskoka Bible Centre’s Women of Grace Virtual Retreat. It was a wonderful time of connecting and learning how to be still, how to study the Bible, and how to pray. I left that day feeling filled-up and strengthened in my faith.
Dr. Linda Reed was the keynote presenter and spoke about how the practice of stillness is hard for people to achieve but how useful it is in our faith. She talked about how this time of quarantine became a season for her to be still and connect with God on an even deeper level.
Can you relate to that? Have you been able to use some of this time at home to be still?
Dr. Reed’s presentation focused on the “know” portion of “be still and know”, titled: “Be Still and Know: To Know His Strengthening Power”. She spent time in Colossians which teaches us how to know Jesus (Col 1), how to know what to think and not to think (Col 2:1-3:4), how to know what to wear and not to wear (Col 3) and how to know what to say and not to say (Col 4). As she zoomed in on His strengthening power, she also shared hundreds of Scriptures on strength in the Bible. You may watch her presentation here and use this link to download a copy of the handout.
It is always encouraging to hear other women with similar roles and responsibilities share their faith journeys to give us hope as we navigate our different stages of life. I trust that you can find a bit of time, within your hectic schedules, to spend being still with God as He strengthens you to attain all steadfastness and patience.
By: Yolande A. Knight
Our song this week is "Still" by Hillary Scott & the Scott Family
RACE & RESTORATION IN THE CHURCH
Like many of you, I have been saddened and deeply hurt by the incidents of injustice and racism that have flooded our airways over the past two weeks. As a Black woman, this has hit close to home because, though I do not have a son; I have nephews, and Black brothers-in-law, friends with Black young men, and male friends who are Black and I feel the angst and pain they suffer whenever their Black men leave their homes, afraid they would not return, ending up another victim.
I recognize that many of you reading this post are white and do not understand why this pain is so real to Black people because you’ve not had encounters with racism. It’s even difficult for many of us to explicitly share our feelings because it’s hard to find the right words to express what we feel in a way that you may comprehend. Or some may even fear repercussion for being considered an “activist”. Every Black person I know, in Canada and the U.S., has had an encounter that they would classify as having racial undertones, running the gamut of outright racism to covert prejudice.
Over the past few weeks, I have gone out of my way to re-educate myself on the issues of race and inequality that permeate our society and what the church’s response should be, as I believe, the church can lead the way in fostering restoration. The Bible commands us to do so in several places (Isaiah 1:17; 58:6-7, Micah 6:8).
In fact, before we get to the so-called "Proverbs 31 Woman" found in Proverbs 31:10-31, verses 8 and 9 ask us to speak up for those being crushed. I could not escape the impact of that word “crushed” in view of the recent events in Minneapolis as the phrase “I can’t breathe” kept going through my mind.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice. (Prov 31:8-9 NLT)
So, I’d like to share a powerful resource with you that I believe, sheds light on the issue of racism in North America from a Christian perspective. Understanding the issue is a first step toward finding a solution. The interview was initiated by Christine Caine, a white Christian woman who founded the anti-trafficking organization, a21. Christine spoke to a Black Christian Mental Health Therapist, Dr. Anita Phillips, about how white people can help in the fight against racism as we all seek an end to injustice.
Dr. Anita, who specializes in trauma, explains that the problem is deeper than racism; it is about dehumanization – a term that may be foreign to some but that brings clarity to a complex social issue. I hope that you will take the time to listen with an open heart and be prepared to learn a few things.
Similarly, I would direct you to a recent research on the topic, “What is the church’s role in Racial Reconciliation” that was conducted by Barna Group, a research firm that conducts research related to faith and values. This study was published in July 2019, 400 years after slaves were brought to America and is also an enlightening read.
Like the late Dr. Martin Luther King, I am confident that we will get to the mountaintop; I hope we do so in some of our lifetimes.
By: Yolande A. Knight
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO DIG INTO THE OLD TESTAMENT!
August 2017, the month I chose to turn to God and run in his direction. Sometime later that month, I found a local Christian store and walked into it ready to conquer the Word of the Almighty! With fresh interest in the Word, I was excited and determined! I walked out of, what would soon be, my new favourite store with a pack of gel highlighters, colourful pens and a plain black journaling Bible.
God must have been cheering me on because he had waited for this moment for 23 years and finally here, I was, approaching his throne with a smile on my face and a fierce fire in my soul.
It has now been almost 3 years since that day, and I have read through the vast majority of the Bible. I must say the Old Testament is truly something special!
I mean, we all love Jesus and he is an extremely important part of how the story ties together, but sometimes we tend to forget why we need Jesus. It is so much easier to embrace the New Testament with all the goodies packed inside just the first 4 books! And it’s amazing to read all the wisdom filled letters from Paul, especially being in prison when he wrote 7 of those letters over the course of 3 years. Amazing!
Before I give you 3 of my favourite reasons why reading the Old Testament is so important, I want to give you a little history. I decided to begin reading the Old Testament from Genesis and work my way through; by the time I got to Deuteronomy, I dropped down to my knees in serious praise. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I prayed to God, feeling so ashamed of every little thing I’d ever done, knowing that through it all he never stopped loving me. I can truly say that was the first day my eyes were actually opened, and I had an understanding heart.
How appreciative I am to have a God who still loves me no matter what! A God who knew we would all need Jesus! A God who did not just leave us hanging out to dry on a cold day, but a God who invited us into his palace to be with him and get to know him personally through Jesus!
We must never take the Old Testament for granted and must educate ourselves through the Old Testament as to why Jesus had to come.
We understand the main points: He died for our sins, he is the way, the truth, the light, but why? Why did Jesus do what he did and why does he claim to love us so much?
So, here are my 3 reasons why reading the Old Testament is so important and why it should NEVER be watered down!
- We need to get rid of our boastful attitudes and humble ourselves before the Lord. Reading the Old Testament is the perfect way to do this. (Ref. Psalm 12:3 NIV)
Reading 3-4 chapters of the Old Testament daily can really transform your heart and your understanding of God’s true love for us. Sin is just as bad now as it was back then, as it will be 1000 years from now.
You might be thinking: “I’m not as bad as the people back in the Old Testament days.”
And I would reply: “Maybe not, but we’re still very sinful.”
For example; people cheat on their taxes, steal items from stores, remove discount tags and attach them to an item in their carts and think nothing about committing those kinds of sins. Lying, whether big or small is sin. There’s talking about others behind their backs and mistreating others because they look or act a certain way that’s different from you. We can be really mean, rude and hurtful and those are all sins in God’s eyes. So, thank God we do NOT have to bring animal sacrifices every time we sin!
- The Old Testament also teaches us on how to pray through every situation - when they didn’t have Jesus as their example.
The Old Testament is filled with real people going through some really hard situations. These folks also did not have Jesus as their guide; they trusted in a very invincible God with mighty powers!
God knows we are going to fail; he is not condemning us for that. He wants us to learn how to fully rely on Him and not on ourselves, our pleasures or our friends. Bear your troubles at the Lord’s feet. He wants to hear from you; He wants to help you!
Nehemiah was a perfect example of a man of prayer not just for himself but for Israel! (Nehemiah 1:3-11)
Would you say you have a healthy prayer life? Would you say you have a vital connection to the Lord? He wants to know your heart not your practiced or repetitive prayers.
As Sheila Walsh puts it, “what would you ask Jesus for if you could see Him? If He was sitting right across from you at your kitchen table, listening, inviting you to ask for anything that was on your heart, what would you ask for?” (Praying Women by Sheila Walsh)
Putting prayer this way could really change your perspective on who you’re actually praying to - an almighty God with might powers!
- The tough books should be read to realize our sins are not far off from theirs, and this is why we need Jesus.
One of the most common sins most people don’t put much thought into is their words. We might not kill people, but there are some serious consequences with the words we use; some words have driven others to suicide. Let’s be real, our tongues are no laughing matter when used at a disadvantage to others! (Ref. Psalm 52:2 NIV)
So, here’s the thing; we might not enjoy reading everything in the Old Testament, but shall I remind you, the Old Testament isn’t meant to make us feel comfortable. The Bible is a book about God and who He is! It’s about God's unfailing love for His people no matter how rebellious they were, and no matter how rebellious we still are!
Time and time again I’ve heard the same reason why people avoid the Old Testament - the violence! It can be uncomfortable to read about all the murderous activities, but it should be read to help everyone understand how much more they needed a Saviour just as we do now.
We see real people chasing after God’s own heart, getting down on their knees and tearing their clothes in true agony, weeping out loud, begging the Lord for help. And then we see people tearing down temples and sacrificing their children to Baal just because they could. So thankfully we have two sides to one large story; two examples we should follow:
- The Old Testament folks should be our leading example of what NOT to do.
- Jesus as our PRIME example of what to do.
If we are always reading just one side of a good story, eventually we start overlooking what’s actually good about it. Sounds a little funny right? But it’s the truth!
All things aside, are YOU in his Word? The Lord is waiting for you to chase after His heart and get to know Him through His Word which He graciously gave to us. The Lord wants to hear from YOU!
Thank you, Father, thank you for your Word!
Thank you for our beloved Saviour Jesus Christ and everything He had to endure to become our Saviour.
I pray over the wonderful women who are reading this article which You guided me to write.
I pray you give each and every one of them renewed excitement in their souls, to open up their Bibles and turn to the Old Testament and start digging into your grace and forever unfailing love and guidance.
Lord, be with each and every one of these women, guide them as they journey back with a grateful heart and open their eyes to new perspectives.
Thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do!
In Jesus’ name
By: Sheena Frederick
Photo Credit: All photos used were provided by Sheena.
Below is a photo of Sheena with her first Bible!
Listen to the deep lyrics of one of Cory Asbury's latest songs: "The Father's House".
Ten weeks into quarantine and we are beginning to see signs of re-entry for various sectors of our society sparking joy in some and fear in others.
The question that remains on the minds of many of us is this: when is the church going to get back together?
Whether churches are in Phase 2 or 3 of the government’s opening plan, we can all agree that it will not be business-as-usual. But what will that mean for us?
Just like we pivoted to virtual community gatherings when the quarantine began, we’d be required to pivot yet again to a “new normal” when it ends. As individuals and families, I believe that we ought to give some consideration to how we see ourselves functioning in this “new normal” reality, making informed decisions for ourselves and our families.
As Christians, this presents an opportunity for us to reflect on how quarantine has deepened our commitment to lives that truly honour God and demonstrate that we are his ambassadors.
When I emerge from this quarantine, I’m hoping that my life reflects one that shows:
- God-dependency - This pandemic has stripped us all of things that we held close to our hearts and that we may have believed were accomplished in our own strength. I pray that this pandemic also strips me of my self-sufficiency as I acknowledge my need for God in every area of my life.
- Gratitude - For many of us, we’ve assumed that all the things we enjoy would always be available and accessible to us, taking so much for granted. I pray that my new normal reflects a life that is grateful for all the blessings I enjoy, even the simplest ones.
- Growth - It’s easy to go through life running on autopilot. I pray that I will come out of this pandemic determined to grow through life as I learn from my experiences and fully apply myself to the mission for which I was created.
Finally, I hope to quit “doing” church and instead move to “being” the church.
Recently I saw a poster that said, “The church has left the building” and it caused me to think about how, generally speaking, we may have been too focused on looking inwardly. Perhaps this is a time for us to focus more of our resources on the needs of the world around us and away from the comforts of church buildings.
I continue to reflect on the question that Bishop Cliff asked of us to contemplate during this pandemic: “What is God allowing to die?”
I may have said in a previous post that when I get on the other side of this pandemic, I hope to be changed for the better – to someone who is more on fire for God, intentionally serving Him first and then to intentionally serve others.
By: Yolande A. Knight
It's the intention expressed in this Sanctus Real song "On Fire"
The Season of Easter, and Social-Distancing
Editorial Note: We are thrilled to bring you the following blog which was written and first published on March 16th, 2020 by Melissa Reeve on her blog “Because of a Sticker”.
Published with permission.
We’re in the middle of March, in the middle of Lent, and in the middle of a pandemic. I don’t think anyone thought that the church as a whole would start giving up church services for Lent. We’ve been told to sit tight for a couple of weeks, and reassess then. We’re about 4 weeks away from Easter. We might be giving that up for Lent as well.
It’s hard to imagine Good Friday and Easter passing by without church services, but it might come to that. I think it’s best to prepare ourselves, in case that happens. It’s one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, and one of the busiest. And we might all be stuck inside our own homes.
I think there are a few very important things to keep in mind this year as Easter approaches. I know it hurts to consider cancelling services that are probably already in the planning stages. Easter comes with special services, special speakers, special music, church potlucks, family dinners etc. But as hard as it is to imagine cancelling, should it become necessary, we need to keep the big picture in mind – two big pictures, really.
First, God is still God regardless of circumstances. History is still history regardless of current circumstances. Who God is, or what He did on the cross, will not change just because we have to cancel services. Even if we have to celebrate at home, we can do that. God hears us individually as well as corporately, and His plan for us does not change based on church attendance. The big picture is that God is ultimately in control of our lives here, and in heaven. For a Christian, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Christ is our hope, our peace, and our joy here on earth, and whenever we do die, we get to experience Him in person. Missing even the most important of church services will never change that.
Second, as long as we live, our commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). How can we best love our neighbours right now? A good way to start is by being sensible during a pandemic. It’s hard to adjust to the idea of loving people by avoiding them, but spreading a potentially deadly virus is not a good way to love your neighbour. Stay home, when possible, for the good of the vulnerable people around you. This virus moves quickly, and the best way to keep hospitals from being overrun, and to keep our families and communities safe, to is keep our distance. It’s everyone’s job to take proactive measures as much as possible.
It’s easy to think that Lent, Good Friday and Easter are necessities of the Christian faith. You know what? They are. But the celebrations and traditions that accompany them are not. Easter is still Easter without a service. During this time in the church calendar, we focus on Christ’s sacrifice which atoned for our sins so that we could be seen as blameless before God. That is incredibly important. Without that, we’re just a group of broken and sinful people with no hope. But God is our hope, and God does not change when our traditions have to change.
Hang onto the big picture, in terms of community health, and eternal hope. Keep being proactive about this public health crisis. Remember that God is with us even when we can’t be with each other. Keep praying, singing praise songs, and reading your Bibles at home, and come out of this with a stronger faith. Set a good example in loving your neighbour enough to stay home. And as I heard in a sermon online this week, the building is not the church: the body of Christ is the church. As much as we’re social-distancing, we’re still not alone. We’re still connected.
By Melissa Reeve
As Melissa has so eloquently stated, and echoed in this beautiful song by Kari Jobe, (we) "I am Not Alone".
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.
"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.”
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 - email@example.com
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"
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Is 43:1b)
If you’re anything like me, you may have gone for a long time believing that being “called” by God was reserved for special people. Perhaps you felt that you didn’t measure up and worthy to be called.
Friends, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth! God calls every one of us, in our ordinariness, brokenness, and in spite of our messed-up lives. Look through the pages of your Bible and see that, with few exceptions, the people who were used by God were ordinary, common folks.
What does it mean to be called by God?
It doesn’t mean that you are better than other people and it doesn’t mean that you suddenly have a life free from obstacles. In fact, the opposite may be true. James 1:2- says to “consider it pure joy when you endure trials of many kinds” and John tells us that in this world, we would have trials (John 16:33). You see, once we become Christ-followers, it’s like we become walking targets for the enemy.
Most of Jesus’ disciples were ordinary fishermen (John 21:1-3) who endured much hardship in their lives; some even died in their service to God. The Bible is clear in showing us that being called by God has to do with serving Him and loving others, and not a safe and trouble-free life. It’s about becoming humble and allowing God to use us wherever He has placed us.
We need to stop looking at the idea of being “called” as a special assignment, or about specifically being in ministry or sent out on a mission field. Your call may be to be the best mom or wife right in your own home. I believe called has more to do with the small, simple things we do that adds value to another person’s life and less about the grand and public displays, huge gestures or dramatic things. It’s less about self and more about others; the idea of laying down your life for your sisters.
Don’t know what God has called you to do?
Wonder why you’re not fulfilling your purpose?
Could it be that you are not ready? If we look at one example in Scripture, we’ll see that sometimes it takes a long time and it may require a lot of growth. Joseph’s story, found in Genesis Chapters 37 through 50, is a great place to start and begins when Joseph was seventeen. We meet Joseph as an arrogant teenager who knew in his heart that God had a big plan for his life but, we also see that Joseph was not ready to step into that purpose. He needed to go through some seasons of pruning to become ready for his assignment from God. Over time and through a series of trials and troubles, Joseph was humbled and his character developed into the man who found pleasure in serving God through saving many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
We will be dedicating our next few blog posts to exploring this topic of “called” as we prepare for our upcoming Fall Retreat. I trust that you will follow along and uncover what God has called you to do and the work He has prepared for you.
Aren’t you just a tad interested to find out?
I hope that your journey won’t be as long and painful as Joseph’s. When you do recognize your calling, you’ll see how truly exhilarating and fulfilling the journey of life becomes.
Dare to be all that God has called you to be and depend on His guidance and direction! Don’t settle for anything less! You were made to shine!
By: Yolande A. Knight - email@example.com