Warning!

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Abel and Adam (not their real names) are friends who live beside each other on the top of a hill that overlooks the town where they work. Their commute to work is simple. Each morning they negotiate their way down a winding road, cross the bridge that spans the ravine and river and then drive a short 2 Km drive to their workplace. They both work for the same business but have different starting times. One evening, while chatting over a BBQ, Adam shared with Abel that he was having problems at work. Abel knew Adam’s story all too well as everyone in the workplace has witnessed their manager chastising Adam for his constant tardiness. Adam was always late and the bosses were getting fed up. Abel figured the problem had worsened because he has overheard Adam and Eve (his wife) arguing a lot lately. As they talked Abel noted that Adam seemed even more agitated than usual. Adam revealed that he has been threatened with dismissal if he were to be late again. Adam stated that Eve threatened to leave him and take the children if he was fired. Adam was worried he would lose his family and his home. After thinking for a moment Abel suggested to his friend that he could call Adam every morning as he was leaving for work to ensure Adam was up. Adam agreed. For the next few weeks this arrangement seemed to be working well.

One evening there was a terrible storm with high winds, torrential rains and flooding in the ravine. It let up in the middle of the night and all seemed well but Abel’s sleep was interrupted by a phone call asking him to come in early to fire up the furnaces that had gone out during the storm. Abel got dressed, grabbed a coffee and left for work. As he was getting into his car he looked over to Adam’s house and wondered what to do. It was still an hour to go before the scheduled time to call but he decided Adam would be fine. As he drove down the hill he could see flashing lights in the distance. He was fortunate to have been driving slowly because as he came around the last corner, he had to stop suddenly otherwise he would have driven off the ravine edge into the river below; the bridge had washed out during the night. He could see the emergency vehicles on the other side but none were on his. He knew he was going to have to do something to prevent people from driving off the bridge and so he positioned his car to face up the road and then stood outside his vehicle hoping to flag down oncoming cars. About 90 minutes later he could hear car tires screeching. He looked up the hills and could see car lights in the wood line quickly coming towards him. It didn’t take him long to realize it was Adam rushing to work and probably thinking he was late.

Able positioned himself in the middle of the road ready to stop Adam and then he recalled their conversation from a few weeks ago. He remembered Adams fear and anger and how he blamed everyone for his problems. He thought that if he stopped the car Adam would blame him for being late and losing everything. They had been friends for a long time and he didn’t want to be blamed by Adam who would become angry at any news. So as Adam raced around the last corner, Abel stepped aside and Adam and his car flew of the bridge into the ravine below.

There is a fate worse that death. It is eternal separation from God. We know how to prevent this outcome and have been tasked by Jesus to tell others how to avoid this fate. However many worry what others will think about them spreading this news. Many wonder whether they will be accused of preventing someone from enjoying the pleasures of the world or from doing what they want. Many fear being called a crackpot and fool for speaking about the hope and eternal life that Jesus offers. Many worry they will lose friends if they warn them about the destructive road they are on regardless of the truth found in scripture that says some will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. We have to warn our others.

Stop what you are doing right now and ask God to bring a friend to mind that needs Jesus. Ask God to give you the courage to approach that friend and the wisdom to speak to them. Don’t step aside. Friends don’t let friends drive off the road that leads to their eternal damnation.

Be prepared

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Forty two years ago I walked into the St Clair Avenue recruiting center and said “I want to belong”. Five years later, as my initial contract was about to expire, I approached my Sergeant and said “I want to serve”. One year later, shortly after arriving in Germany, I attended my first bible study and at the end of the evening said “I want to follow Jesus”. One year later I was offered my commission and declared “I want to lead”. Twenty five years passed and injuries added up as I was being released from the military I said “I still want to help” and became a member of the public service. Last week, as I was reflecting on my years with the government  Solomon’s words, as recorded in Ecclesiastes, came to mind “Everything is meaningless, says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

Every day I served, followed, lead and helped I interacted with people who needed God and yet I rarely spoke with anyone about Him. I attended church, engaged in spiritual practices but was so focused on my own relationship with God that I completely missed out on the holy relationships God desired when Jesus said “love you neighbour as yourself”. For years I developed a relationship with God and focused on my eternity and for whatever reason somehow did not think it necessary to concern myself with the eternity of others. 

I felt my forty two years were meaningless not because I believe the military or the public service have no value. On the contrary I believe these roles are necessary in our society. I know, as do many of my military peers and colleagues, that responsibilities such as these help many and add value to our communities. However it was all truly meaningless. In 1979 when I told God I wanted to be a follower I in fact failed and became an observer and bystander. I did not intentionally ask the Holy Spirit to use me to make other followers. I did not align with God’s will to have His word spread to all nations. I did not share the hope or love that possessed me with those needing Jesus.

However all is not lost for me or anyone else who may have felt they missed out on sharing the Gospel. While we still have a breath in our lungs, we can ask God to use us in His kingdom building. We must however prepare ourselves to become disciples who desire to see others become followers of Jesus. We can ask the Holy Spirit to be with us during our daily interactions and to prepare those we will meet to hear or see a disciple of Jesus. We can ask God to allow our life to be a witness so people may see of what a life of hope looks like. We must continue to grow in our knowledge of God and we must be prepared to tell others what we know best about the Gospel, our own relationship with God. We should know and be prepared to share our own testimony that includes what our life was like before we choose Jesus, the circumstances that led us to making a decision to become a follower, and how our life changed since we became a disciple. We need to desire and then be prepared to be used by God. 

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence”     1 Peter 3:15

Enjoy life but don’t ignore Jesus

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Have you watched YOUTUBE videos associated with talent programs such as the Idol series, Country (insert name) Has Talent, or The Voice? Most generally start by watching the programs best performances where they will rightfully be impressed by the talent around this planet. Many are unable to resist watching the worst and bad performances and may even look at the videos showing outright rude behaviour of judges and contestants. Do you think that the behaviour traits observed in these videos are an actual reflection of society after all the desires of the producers of these competitions is to find ordinary everyday people who are willing to do or say anything for recognition and glory?

These talent searches showcase children wearing clothing, gyrating, and singing lyrics that should make adults blush. There are older men and women degrading themselves by wearing revealing clothing and making sexual implicit innuendos to judges as one last grasp at recognition before the rocking chair calls them. It is apparently all done in the name of entertainment however when you watch you will see arrogance and humility, shame and pride, heartbreak and joy, and vulgarity and virtue. In videos you can observe a dominant characteristic about the contestants, their families and even friends. It is a willingness to sacrifice a considerable amount of time and effort into the hope of cashing in on fame and fortune, which, we know, is fleeing and has no eternal value.

God give each of us talents and abilities as well as the facility to display and enjoy emotions. We can take pleasure in listening to gifted artists sing just as we can benefit from listening to our children at a church concert. We must encourage others to find and develop the abilities and talents God gave but we must also pray they remember they are given to them for only a brief time and should not be a distraction from their relationship with God. We can pray that God allows us to turn our talents and abilities into gifts that bless people. No matter what talents we have, whether it is phenomenal hockey abilities or a calming presence as a customer service representative, we can pray that our gifts allow us to live and talk as dedicated followers of Jesus so we can be a witness for the kingdom.

Are your goals and desires for your children, your family, your friends or yourself about earthly glory or do you act and speak as if it is about God’s glory? Could you pray “God I will do anything, anytime and anywhere you desire? Can you make the necessary sacrifices that would please God or are you more concerned about pleasing people?

There is truly very little time on this earth and it would be terrible to focus on getting all you can out of this life at the cost of your salvation. There is joy in living for Jesus daily, which lasts through eternity. Ask yourself, is what you are focused on, for you and your family. Speak with God and allow His Spirit to convict you. Speak with a mature believer or your pastor about ways you can honour God. Enjoy what is given but find what is necessary and do it.

“Breakfast event in Vancouver, BC” 15 January, 2016

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The Human Behind the Mission: A Rare Glimpse into Canada’s Armed Forces @ The Vancouver Club

Many ex-Armed Forces personnel say that there is no career more challenging or rewarding than serving in the Forces –  the privilege of defending our country, being part of history-making events, and helping those in need – both in Canada and around the world.

At this January breakfast City in Focus will be inviting a panel of people who have served in the Armed Forces.  Their life, their service and the role that their faith has played in their career will be discussed.

The breakfast discussion will be followed by ‘Continuing the Conversation’ post-breakfast session. Please consider staying on at the Club and joining some of the City in Focus staff and panelists for a further time of conversation around the topic.  So if you have some extra time please join everyone for the extended program. The post-breakfast discussion group will conclude at 10am.

“Breakfast event in Vancouver, BC”

WHEN:
January 15, 2016 @ 7:00 am – 8:30 am
WHERE:
The Vancouver Club
915 W Hastings St
Vancouver, BC V6C
Canada
COST:  $36.80
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Nathaniel Bentley   604-687-7292 or by    Email
This Breakfast is hosted by City in Focus

 

Be Changed

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We are one week into 2016 and some are feeling disappointed at breaking a resolution that may have been linked to eating healthier, practicing fitness, and maybe spending less.  Some may have even desired to seek change in their spiritual health by wanting to adopt prayer and scripture reading habits.  Once these resolutions were identified it was almost certain that the evil one set about to cause people to break their resolutions affecting their hope that change is possible.  He probably even placed these resolutions in our minds by using guilt and then used nothing more that distracting us with day to day life activities to cause us to break them in record speed.

When we become followers of Christ we were introduced to the fundamentals of discipleship which included scripture reading, prayer and being in relationship with a Christian community.  We were taught that when we seek God the Holy Spirit offers encouragement and can prompt us to participate in activities that honour God.  We are told the Holy Spirit can help us make choices that affect our temperament.  Change such, as peace, gentleness, and self-control as well as an ability to see the world differently, can be part of our character.  Transformation into Christ-likeness is a gift from God given to those who intentionally seek to love Him with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their strength.  Desiring to love God and neighbour as well as live a pure life can become attributes of a disciple willing to listen and serve God.   Keeping a resolution to serve God can be achieved if we seek God’s guidance to show us what and how to be changed.

It is possible that we break our resolutions too soon because we did not think about what or why we really wanted to change.  We do not want to give up on resolutions especially with regards to growing a relationship with God.  So adopt a new mindset.  Start again and instead of making a list of things you think you need to change now, let God define the list through-out the year.  Humbly, go to the altar and seek the Holy Spirit’s love to reveal the areas where change will bring glory to God.  Use your prayers as the means to hear and obey.  Don’t pray to try to influence God to change you but let God influence you to change.  Believe and rely on the truth and the power of prayer.  Let the Holy Spirit work with you.

 

God is calling

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In the Spring of 2005 I had sensed God’s leading to be deployed to Afghanistan.  At the time I was serving as the Director of Personnel Management Services for the Air Force, and I had been away from operations for six years.  God’s call though was clear, even overwhelming.  I discussed the call with my wife, who also sense the same intent on God’s part, although neither of us knew why.  So, I advised my superiors of my interest to be deployed.

In the fall of 2005, I was selected to be a member of the first Afghan Advisory Team under the leadership of a colleague; however, when his family opposed his deployment the initial team (me included) was dissolved and replaced by another.  I was left pondering what to do with my understanding of God’s call to go.  I only had to wait a few months.  In late 2005, Canada announced that it would deploy a battle group and the Air Force announced that part of the deployment would include a contingent of Air Force officers to support the air component’s role in the Afghan mission.  I was selected and deployed in 2006 to Afghanistan as part of the Canadian contribution in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Oddly, though I was selected for deployment, the exact military role I would fulfill was not clear until I had been in Afghanistan for several weeks.  However, the spiritual role became clear within 24 hours of my arrival at my base of operations.

I was stationed at ISAF HQ in Kabul, where I arrived late in the day on a Saturday.  My Canadian sponsor helped me find a bunk in the temporary accommodations area and showed me where the mess hall was located.  At supper I read a notice that there was a church that met on Sunday evenings at the chapel.  While, there were Sunday services provided by the HQ chaplain on Sunday mornings, the evening service is where I sensed God’s calling.  So, on my first Sunday in Afghanistan I attended a small congregation of believers who had been gathering together on Sunday evenings for several weeks under the oversight of the chaplain.

I found out that God had given the idea for this church to two British soldiers: one from South Africa (Andrew) and the other from one of the British Overseas Territories (Steve).  These two gentlemen had come together in prayer several months previous asking God to establish a church at the HQ.  While, chaplain services were regularly being offered at the camp, there was a desire for something more.

When I arrived, the congregation consisted of 5-8 believers, so it was like a Bible study group.  On Sunday evenings there was a service, which included singing, scripture reading and a sermon.  While the camp chaplain provided oversight and attended on occasion, the church primarily managed itself.  At my first service on my first Sunday in Afghanistan I was deeply moved by the bond of peace that existed in that small church.  Though I did not yet fully understand what my military role would be, it was clear that my spiritual role involved being a part of that church.  The next day, Monday, I met with Nick, the HQ chaplain, and with Andrew to gain a better understanding of the church and its placement within the context of the spiritual footprint at the HQ.  I learned of its genesis and short history and that Nick was fully supportive of it.  By the end of the meeting I was appointed as Sunday-evening-service coordinator.

The ISAF HQ church met Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings for worship and Bible teaching and preaching.  Sunday evenings were more formal than Wednesdays, which were similar to a Bible Study.  During my tour, the church grew to between 20-25 members. Several of the members were new believers who had become Christ-followers during their tour and the church played a role in their coming to faith in Christ.  We became the go-to-guys for Nick whenever he needed assistance, which allowed us to serve the camp in a variety of capacities, the most significant of which was leading the camp’s Christmas services.  Attendance at the two services amounted to approximately 80% of the camp’s population.  We sang hymns, Christmas carols, read the Christmas story and gave personal testimonies.  All that God accomplished through the work of that small church is known only to God, but in the midst of all that we were involved in, God’s presence and working was evident, and it was a source of joy.

As I consider the coming year and the hope I have for the MCF, I am reminded of the effect that the small church at Kabul HQ was used by God to achieve.  I am grateful that God called me to Afghanistan and allowed me to be part of His work there.  I see that it was an example of what he wants to do throughout the military community.  The MCF has three strategic objectives: to lead military community members to commit their lives to Christ, to assist and encourage believers to grow in their faith and to support the chaplaincy and the chapel program.  All that is needed is for believers to follow God’s call.  Will you follow?

Until all,
Gerry Potter
Colonel (Ret’d)
President