“Send me”

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Have you ever prayed, “send me Lord” but in fact were afraid God would send you? Where you afraid that He would pull you off your comfy couch and send you to some desolate land where simple comforts of life do not exist or are very limited? Does such a thought actually prevent you from praying; “send me” because you know in your mind that you are not ready to go? God will not send us somewhere when He knows it is not in our heart to go. For now God would be more pleased to send us out of our living rooms and across the street to our neighbours.

God will not send us somewhere until He is ready. He chooses to use us in His plan and when He wants us He will be the provider, enabler, supporter and protector of those He sets in motion. His work is not based on whether we feel ready but when He is ready. The Holy Spirit is transforming those of us who truly want to be disciples and is getting them ready to be part of Jesus’ mission. God does not expect us to have memorized the bible or have all theological arguments fine-tuned. He wants us to continue to seek Him and when He recognizes our desire to be disciples, He will use us. Being a true disciple of Christ causes us to want to go and make more disciples.
In a vision, Isaiah stood before God filled with guilt and doubt about whether he could have any impact on his community. He says “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”(Isaiah 6:5). God cleansed and forgave Isaiah of his guilt and sin and then called for someone to do His work – Isaiah responded, “send me”. The work of the Military Christian Fellowship of Canada is to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the military community in Canada and abroad. We do not pray for a new mission from God because we already have one. We do pray for men and women to step and tell God “send me” so He will consider them to take Jesus’ love into their military environment.  If you have accepted Christ as your Saviour then you have been commissioned by Jesus (Matthew 28: 16-20) to accept God’s call. God used Peter, a fisherman who made numerous mistakes, to take His truth to the world.  Can you, in whatever role you have in society, say to God “send me”?

 
“Lord I am just a ________ but I accept the calling of the Great Commission that you have put before me. I will need the Holy Spirit to me give me courage and strength to do Your will. I am as ready as I will ever be Lord. Where do you want me? AMEN”

Soldier on

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…1 Peter 4:1,5  As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 
It was during my second posting that I became a follower of Jesus.  Circumstances in my life had become dire. Work was suffering, relationships were suffering, and financial challenges were overwhelming. I came to the end of myself. Christ stepped in front of me and figuratively held out His hand.  I was a broken man, my pride was gone, so I grabbed hold, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and He began His work in me to transform me, my life and my mission to being that of a servant, a Disciple-maker.
The joy and the peace I experienced as a result of my re-birth was extraordinary and, being a person who likes to share experiences, I shared my new found faith with my spouse, my friends and co-workers. Oddly, they weren’t as excited as I was about my experience with Jesus.  Some were polite, some less so.  For a short while I enjoyed a type of honeymoon with Jesus.  When I read His word I understood, when I spent time with other Christ-followers I was inexplicably encouraged and when I worshiped with others, hearing His word preached and singing songs that praised Jesus I was filled with that crazy consuming joy.  I know that at times I was irritatingly joyful, but it was uncontrollable.
Soon, my friends and colleagues began to push back.  On occasion they would avoid me, sometimes walk away, and sometimes maliciously attack me.  I began to learn to temper my enthusiasm. However, the push back began to turn into efforts to get me to compromise the rule that I had chosen to follow.  When I did not compromise, then ridicule followed. It followed me into the work place and it followed me into social settings and I began to withdraw.
The description given in 1 Peter 4 of what a follower of Jesus will experience is real.  It will be different for each of us depending on our life circumstances, but the effects will be very similar.
I came to a point where I had to make a decision between three options: blend in, go along to get along, so that the persecution would stop; continue to withdraw and isolate myself so that I could minimized the frequency and intensity of the attacks; or I could resume my willingness to be transparent about my love for Jesus regardless of the reaction.  After a few weeks of discussions with God, my pastor and my fellow believers, I chose option three.  I admit that the experience did temper my enthusiasm somewhat, and I was not as bubbly with some people as I was before, but I lived my faith openly.
The efforts of others to get me to compromise resumed with intensity, but my temporary retreat seemed to steel my will to follow Jesus.  Instead of withdrawing, I placed the names of my persecutors on a piece of paper and prayed for them daily. I asked God to help me remain faithful, to love those who sought to cause me harm, and to give me opportunities to serve them.  Those opportunities came and I served.  Eventually, the attacks diminished and became infrequent, and some began to ask questions about this Jesus, even going to church to check Him out and some, even becoming Christ-followers themselves.
Jesus tells us that the struggles that Christians face are many times the result of the spiritual forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12), who use people and circumstances to persecute Christians, but we also are told that those forces are no match for the power of the Living God who lives in the Christ-follower in the form of His Spirit (1 John 4:4-5). “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.”
I have been walking with Jesus for 33 years now.  My circle of friends and colleagues still contains many more non-believers than believers.  The joy I have in Christ continues unabated as does the persecutions, albeit they are more sophisticate and subtle now, yet I know I still fight the same enemy and I still use the same weapons and in Christ I still win.  I am grateful for Jesus and His love for me, I am grateful that He still gives me opportunity to serve in His mission, to be in the fight.
How about you? How goes the fight? We are in this together, and though it might seem at times that the darkness has the edge, it has already lost.
Soldier on.

The Gospel

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The two-word phrase “the gospel,” is derived from the Greek word “euangelion.” Though not a commonly used phrase today, on occasion one hears its use within Western English speaking society as a metaphor that attributes the quality of truth to a particular set of assertions. While the roots of the phrase pre-exist its use in the New Testament, the quality that it denotes when it is used to qualify a grouping of ideas is derived from its use in the Bible.

Within Christianity, the phrase has been used to describe various view points as to what Christians should be doing to improve their surroundings and in so doing, working to steadily usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. However, theologically this is an incorrect premise. 2 Peter 3:10 tells the reader that the earth is destined for complete renewal, so no amount of effort on man’s part will hinder what is in store for the earth on the Day of the Lord. Other Christians take the perspective that the gospel is about loving one’s neighbour, commonly referred to as “the social gospel.” The responsibility for Christians to love their neighbour is foundational; it is one of the two core commands pronounced by Jesus, yet it is a command for the right conduct of those who have become children of God, and while it is good news for those who are in need of social assistance, for those who are concerned for the environment; for social equality; for social justice, etc.; it is not the good news of The Gospel.

As communicated in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, which is the clearest, concise and most precise explanation, The Gospel is simply:

  • Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;
  • Christ was buried;
  • Christ was raised to life on the third day according to the Scriptures.

Romans 10:9 communicates that if a person declares with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised him from the dead, that they will be saved.  While The Gospel is simple and it can be stated in a few short phrases, man’s comprehension and subsequent response to it requires the supernatural intervention of God’s Holy Spirit, who grants the gift of faith to a person, enabling them to act in accordance with Romans 10:9.
When I was 13 years old, I recognized my need for Jesus and I responded to an offer to confess and repent of my sin, declaring Jesus as my Lord, believing in His death and resurrection as the sole means by which I am forgiven.  Yet, it was not until I was 26 years old and at the end of myself, that I surrendered my life to Jesus.  Today, 33 years later, my awareness of my need of Jesus and my gratefulness for the salvation that I have received continues to increase.  Without Jesus, I am lost: spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically.  With Jesus I have hope: hope for today and for tomorrow; hope for my family and for those whom God has allowed me to have influence with; and I have hope for eternity.
I have heard it said that the Church is the hope of the world, and while the phrase sounds good, I am not sure of its theological soundness.  My understanding is that The Gospel is the hope of the world, and the Church has been assigned the task of communicating it to the world.  The Church is the chosen tool of God with which He communicates His message of hope and He has given it clear, concise and precise orders – “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”[1]  God has not given this directive to anyone else, so the hope that the world needs will come only from the church.  As such the church must be focused on communicating The Gospel.  Though there are many “good” activities that the church could be involved in, if the communication of The Gospel is not its primary intent, if The Gospel does not permeate everything that the Church does, then it is abdicating its primary purpose and the world is lost.

Do you believe?

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Last Sunday I listened to a message about love. The love specifically spoken about was the illogical, unusual love that comes from a determined act of the will, from a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own; agape love. It is that love which took Jesus to the cross and also allows us to love Him with our whole being. Agape love can create a desire in us to be concerned about the salvation of those we encounter daily. Ongoing agape love is a gift that is available to those born again, to those who have been spiritually reborn because they chose to believe in Jesus.

Questions often arise as to what do we need to believe about Jesus and Sunday’s speaker shared the following questions in the hope of getting listeners to question their own understanding and possibly connect or reconnect with God.

  • Do you believe that God created everything that exits and that He intentionally created humanity to have a daily and eternal relationship with Him?
  • Do you believe that when we enter into this relationship we can love God, the Holy Sprit and Jesus with all our heart, mind and soul and that we can also love all those around us?
  • Do you believe that in the process of loving as God desires it can cause others to praise His name?
  • Do you believe that there are things that we can do or say (sins) that are hurtful and offensive to God, to those around us, and even to ourselves and, that it is God’s desire that we do not partake in those activities?
  • Do you believe that sin is so offensive to God’s Holy nature that unless we stop or find a way to be forgiven of sin our eternity with Him will not happen and a dire outcome awaits us?
  • Do you believe that in order to reconcile the damage caused by sin Jesus was sent to earth to show us that a love exists, an agape love, which allows our behaviour to be forgiven and our eternity with God assured?
  • Do you believe that Jesus purposefully allowed himself to be arrested, brutalized and murdered and by His own power rose from the grave showing that He has authority over all life and death?
  • Do you believe the Holy Sprit can help us resist the temptation to sin and although we will never be free from the ability to sin, we can be freed from the desire to do so?
  • Do you believe that we can be born again, born of God’s Holy Spirit, so that our lives will be transformed?
  • Do you believe we must be born again, reborn with God’s spirit, so that daily we can experience God’s gift of illogical agape love?
  • Do believe that there is nothing we personally can do, no amount of good deeds, no amount of community aide, no amount of sacrifice, which alone will cause God to allow us into heaven with Him?
  • Do you believe that while we are on this earth unexplainable joy, remarkable peace, soothing comfort and wonderful hope are possible and that it stems from our belief in Jesus?
  • Do you believe that not everyone will be brought into God’s kingdom and there is judgement and eternal separation from God for those who do not believe?
  • Do you believe that we can be saved from the death caused by sin, which is eternal separation from God, and that our past and future transgressions can be forgiven when we believe and trust in Jesus’ promises and truth?

We may disagree on some aspects of the way we do church however we must not disagree on what Jesus shared which is YOU MUST BELIEVE IN HIM.

Examine yourself on these questions and if required, seek an understanding from your priest or pastor or a Christian brother or sister willing to discuss God’s expectations. Do not rely on your love or abilities but believe. Let God know what you believe and pray asking that agape love drives you to seek a stronger relationship with Him and creates a desire within you to share His truths with those you encounter.

Encourage one another

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This week a young couple that recently moved to our city to serve God had a child.  They came with little but trusted God would provide whatever they needed to share His truths. This couple are not finically irresponsible nor are they avaricious in their desires. They needed a crib and other supplies and did not ask anyone but God. Someone noticed how little they had and word spread that they needed some baby furniture. Brothers and sisters prayed for them but also gave what they could; they responded as Christ expected. The husband recently shared that he and his wife had prayed for God’s provisions and later that day an anonymous Christian family gave them $1000.00 for their baby’s needs.  I didn’t tell this story to communicate that when we pray with the right motives God provides, although that is true. This story is about how Christian brothers and sisters are necessary for the encouragement and support of the body of Christ.
While imprisoned, and in chains, Paul wrote a letter to Philemon telling him about the joy and encouragement he felt because of Philemon’s faithful walk. Paul recognized that the actions of Philemon were doing much to help other followers live for Christ and Paul commended him for that. The book of Philemon isn’t the only book where Paul writes about the need for followers to encourage and support each other. Many of his letters contain similar sentiments. He wrote these words not because they sound nice or polite but because Paul understood that God created us to live in harmonious relationship with each other, a relationship that is very difficult outside Christian community and sadly often lacking within it. Jesus’ direction to go and make disciples of all nations teaching them His truth was also part of His message of loving our neighbours. We tend to think He was only speaking about reaching the unsaved however He was also guiding us to interact with others followers. His messages often expressed what should be happening in Christian community. They highlighted the fact His truth and love is what binds the Church and shows the world what Christ’s love can do to people.
We pray for those who do not know Jesus as their saviour and must continue to do so. But, don’t forget about those who have already made the decision to be a follower; they also need our love and support. Our actions and words put a smile on their hearts and remind them that God has created something special. When people unselfishly bring encouragement to the family His church flourishes. The young couple that received the money are truly grateful and were encouraged. Paul shares that the actions and behaviours of brothers and sisters can also go a long way to bring hope to the Christian community.
Can you make a point of sending a note or making a phone call to another brother or sister telling them that you are thankful you are related in Christ? Can you refresh the heart of another follower so that they are reminded there is joy in being a Christian?

Who is right?

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We all have preferences when it comes to church. We like the music, the programs, the preaching or even the people; that is why we continue to go back to the same church each Sunday. However just as many have ideas about how an ideal church functions, they also have opinions as to how others are doing church wrong.  We can identify flaws in their mission statement, the way they baptize people, the way they pray or even the sound of their musicians. These opinions and differences are rarely about a church’s or denomination’s core beliefs. They often focus on the irrelevant or something that has not been well defined in scripture; such as to sprinkle or dunk during baptism.

When Jesus met the women at the well she brought up one of the divisive differences of opinions that Samaritans and Jews have regarding worship. Jesus however sets the record straight by suggesting worship is not about the location or the frills. He said true worshipers worship the Father in spirit and truth; true worship engages the heart which has been enhanced by the truth about God. Worship in spirit and truth requires scripture, not legalism or preferences, to be the foundation of our love of God. When we ground ourselves in His truths, we then know who it is we seek to glorify.

Have you ever been in a church other than your own or even one from another denomination? Have you seen people worship in spirit and truth outside of your own congregation? It is happening despite what you may have heard. It is happening in churches where liturgy and ceremony are central to the service just as it is happening in places that resemble concert stages. It is happening where people are not concerned about where they are but who they are there to honour with their worship.  Focusing on our differences out of jealousy or ignorance hurts Christ’s Church (the body of believers) and can have dire consequences.

Stephen is identified as the first Christian Martyr of the Church and his problems started with people who probably worshipped differently from him. He was chosen to oversee the early church’s food programs not because he was a great logistician or had connections to food distributors or was well liked by everyone in his community. He was chosen to be part of the Holy Spirit’s earthly mission because he was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He set about doing the work to the best of his abilities and people had opinions about his ministry, specifically the Synagogue of the Freedmen (literally made up of those who were former slaves). Their opinions lead to an accusation of blasphemy which resulted in his stoning and death. Incredible to think that even in the early days of the church, differences of opinions caused such horror.

It is a great sensation to worship with others. The knowledge we gain from these experiences enhances theoverall Church. Would you consider enhancing your understanding by visiting a church of another denomination? I am not suggesting that we abandon our own Sunday experience with our church family. Go to a nigh-time or mid-week service elsewhere. We should not go thinking we will find something better or worse. We should go looking to worship in a style different from our preference. We should go looking for ways in which others praise and glorify God hoping it will be part of our spiritual transformation so we can worship in spirit and truth.

Do you have a relationship with God?

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During a recent time of prayer one woman said “Thank you Jesus for what you did for me. I believe even if I were the only person on this earth needing saving, you would have gone to the cross for me.” All present whispered AMEN or YES Lord. However it wasn’t until I got home later that evening that the truth of her words struck me. Jesus allowed Himself to be humiliated, brutalized and crucified for me. He did this so that the promise of eternity He offered me could be realized. He did this so I could live a life of hope, so I could be comforted when I was feeling down, so I could be given strength to resist temptation, and so I could be His messenger of truth sharing with those closest to me. He did it so I could have an individualized relationship with Him. He also did it for you, so you could also be His.
Jesus’ death and resurrection affected all of humanity. But I know that when I stand before God, when you stand before God, the individuality of our relationship with Him will be clear when He personally acknowledges us. He will not compare us to anyone else nor suggest He loves one of us as much or as little than someone else; it will be about me and Him, you and Him. Scripture is clear that all people are God’s creation (Colossians 1:16) and that He loves the world (John 3:16) and showed it by giving Jesus to die so reconciliation with God became possible. However, scripture also says that to those who believe and accept Him will be given the right to become His children (John 1:12). In the ideal family, children are loved for their own merits not because they belong to the family.
It is important to realize that as Christ followers we are in a personalized relationship with God. Although we may function well in fellowship with others, eternity is dependant on our individual connection, adoration, worship, trust and belief in God. Each time we pray, whether it is intercession for a friend or a blessing over others, our actions and words are a reflection of that relationship. God hears the words spoken and knows whether they are said for the sake of those listening, whether it is a ritual that Christian fall into, or whether the speaker really believes God is listening and wants to respond. God is very interested in our mindset as individuals. He cares how we worship Him, how we acknowledge Him to ourselves and to others, how we seek to know more about Him by our reading and study of scripture, and how we apply His expectation to our daily lives. He cares because He sees it as a reflection of our individual relationship with Him.
We cannot hide from God. We can be surrounded by other followers singing praises at church or at a Christian concert, or we can be one of many voices lifting prayers to God at a gathering, or we can be seated amongst those listening to a Christian conference speaker. We know God created us to be in relationship with Him and with others, but He did not create clones. We are clay and He is the potter and although the formed pots may look similar, no two are truly identical. Amongst all crowds, the noise and the distractions, God sees and hear each one of us. He sees the individual personality, talents, and skills He placed in us and He wants a relationship with that person.
Some of us have yet to grasp the idea of a personal relationship with God; a relationship in which He cares about every moment of our day and how we seek to involve Him in it.  He wants our praise, not because we should but because we realize we have a bond with the creator of the universe and it is personal. Will you take some time to think about your relationship with God? Don’t start with thoughts about what you think you should have done. Satan will try to break your relationship by suggesting you are not worthy.  God chose you to be in relationship with Him. He alone decides what needs changing and will guide us to reflect more of Him in our relationship. Think about what a good relationship involves and then, in consultation with Him, seek to grow that relationship by applying some of those principles you uncovered.  God used six days to create the wonder around us, so don’t be in a hurry to make it all happen at once. Let the potter mold you.

How do you respond?

How do you respond? 2016-07-22When a child takes its first steps, those watching get pretty excited. Some probably applaud and cheer and then flood the Internet with play-by-play videos of the steps. We celebrate the child’s achievement because we know, where walking can take them. Often during these early stages the child will fall and maybe even start to crawl again because it is easier and is something they are use to doing. When they do fall what is our response as a family member, a friend, or a causal observer watching the video on some social media tool such as FACEBOOK or snapchat? Do we chastise the child? Do we scold them and then walk away because they have reverted to their old ways or do we help them back on their feet while offering encouraging words and support?
In the 15th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus shares several parables about forgiveness, joy and celebration. The parable of the Lost or Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31) is one that most of us bring to mind. Many have probably heard sermons that focus on one of the main characters and their reaction to the younger son. The characters include the Father of the two sons, the son who wanted his inheritance, and the other son who seemed disappointed at his father’s reaction. Also in the story, and less spoken about are those who partied and helped the younger son spend his inheritance. There are the family friends who may have been with the father when the son returned or were invited to the celebration party and there were the casual observers, such as the servants who watched this drama play. The youngest son was definably no baby but was taking some baby steps to reconcile with His father and the people observing had some very different reactions to his attempt.
Those in a relationship know that an argument is inevitable regardless of the couple involved. If, after the couple’s first argument one decides to walk away from the relationship, what response would you expect from the other partner? As a friend, what would be our response? As their next-door neighbour who barely knows them, how do we respond? If we have a neighbour with a noisy car who has started it up at 5:00 AM introducing their noisy car to those still in bed, how do we respond as a friend, possible family member, or as a causal neighbour? Would it make a difference if we knew their early start was because they had a child who had to be at a 6:00 AM Chemotherapy appointment or that they were going on a Timmies coffee run? And when the early morning noise stops because the child no longer requires treatment, do we celebrate with them or ignore the situation or go away and mope about those mornings we were woken?
There are many around us taking baby steps everyday and we often don’t even notice something is happening. Sometimes it’s because we have seen this person take those same steps many times before only to fall and go back to their old ways. Sometimes we are blinded to whatever is happening because our own concerns get in the way. Sometimes we don’t notice because we don’t care. How we respond to the world around us can influence our relationship with Christ. If we chose to ignore the good and bad that is happening around us and only focus on our own lives, we will become sad lonely people.   If we choose to see the fault in those trying to move forward, our bitterness and resentment will destroy us. If we cannot see the need to connect with others and struggle alone, we will not realize the hope Jesus offers.
We would like to challenge you to examine how you respond to those around you. Would you re-read the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31) and see if you can identify with one of the characters based on how you respond to life. Meditate on the passages and then take a closer look at the different characters. Keep in mind your response to the baby steps others take, see if you can see yourself or others in Jesus’ story. Consider how you respond to other’s attempts at achievement. Consider how you respond to the neighbour who is undergoing anger management treatment again; the same person who you have heard scream obscenities at his wife time and time again. The same neighbour who seems broken because of his behaviour and says he wants nothing more than to love his wife, as he knows he should. Consider how you respond to those who want to change for the better. If you are convicted because of your response, pray asking to be transformed. Pray God opens your eyes to the world around you especially those needing that hand up as they take some big baby steps. Pray the Holy Spirit guides you to express holy love even for those you do not know. Pray for discernment to guide your response to the struggles and success of your family, neighbours, colleagues and even the strangers. Pray you can be an encourager who wants to celebrate life with others. Pray you can respond as Christ expects.

Are you Committed

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It’s been five sleeps since most of us last gathered with our church family to pray, sing songs of praise and listen to God’s word.  In a few days we will again drive to those places of worship while driving past the homes of people who do not find God necessary.  These are people who have chosen to stay away from church because they would rather sleep in, take a child to a sport practice or game, cast a lure into a lake, hit a golf ball or gather with friends at Timmy’s to share a few laughs.  Many of these people are our friends who we have socialized with, talked about their lives, and have been on our prayer lists.  Many of them are satisfied with the lives they have built for themselves, with their homes, their jobs and their children; people we view life as good enough and see no need for Jesus.

Why indeed. Scripture tells us that there is no difference between any of us and we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Sin interferes with day-to-day living and has eternal repercussions. However many, including believers, have chosen to define sin based on their circumstances while believing they are doing life well enough. They see the bible as antiquated musings that do not apply to 2016 and unfortunately, many believers contribute to this mindset. If we stand some followers alongside those who choose not to believe and compare their lives, we probably would see no difference.  These type of believers act as if they had no hope. They complain about the same things, they are stressed and anxious when family issues arise, they rant about their neighbours, complain about their politicians, question church decisions and offer similar excuses on Sunday mornings when they choose to skip church. Side-by-side some are very much like their non-believing friends because life seems good and they see no need for God beyond Sunday mornings. They see no need to set aside time to pray, to reading scripture, or to want to share the Good News with others.

There is an intentionality required to be a follower of Christ. It leads to rewards both on earth and in heaven; peace and calmness on earth and an eternity of happiness in heaven. It cannot come about with part time commitment. It requires the follower to commit to Jesus. It requires reading the bible and not just to say they read so many pages but to say they read a story about God’s love. A love that encourages them when they are trying to understand a disruptive neighbour, deal with an angry driver in traffic, or encounter a heavily tattooed homeless youth wearing clothes they could never imagine should be worn by anyone. A follower, who chooses to read God’s word and talk with Him, sees the world differently. When they respond to what they read, they make different choices including wanting to share Jesus with those who believe that life is good enough. Followers of Jesus should be able to share about a life that is different from the one lived before they choose to become a follower. They should want to talk about the circumstances that lead to their decision to follow Jesus, and they should be able to speak glowingly about a life transformed because of the commitment to follow. The committed follower will want to share this Good news because their life is not the same as the friend who does not know God.

Believers should seek to become holy not to suggest they are better but to acknowledge they are transformed. They should want a 24/7 relationship with God that goes beyond satisfying our carnal desires; a relationship that gives hope to fulfilling spiritual and emotional needs.  Believers should want to experience life differently so that when they are faced with lives’ difficulties they can respond with a peace and calmness.  Committed believers should love those who do know Jesus but should no longer want to be like them. The life of a believer should cause others to ask questions and point them to Jesus and not remark “we are no different.”  Are you a committed follower of Jesus?

Pray for our Country

July 1, 2016
O Lord God Almighty, who rules the nations of the earth, we humbly beseech you to behold our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, that in all the things she may be led by thy guidance and protected by thy power. Give wisdom to the Governor-General of this Dominion, the Lieutenant-Governors of all the provinces, the Legislators of the Commonwealth and Empire, and all who are set in authority. Bless Prime Minister Trudeau. May peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety be established amongst us for all generations, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Book of Common Prayer
Today we celebrate Canada’s 149th birthday as a nation. Looking back in history we can conclude that the union of the first four provinces were motivated by the desire to protect individual rights, especially the rights to life, liberty, and property. The British North America Acts (BNA), which gave us permission to call ourselves a Nation, came into being in 1867. However it gave our leaders limited control over the future of the country as the United Kingdom still held the reigns. During the drafting of the Acts it was not the intent of the leaders to declare Canada to be a Christian Nation in which God’s principles would guide us. There was reference to protecting religious rights and we can even suggest that at the beginning of our nation scripture was the basis for some of the laws and guidelines used in our country. There was however no doubt that God was not our King.
Scripture tells us that when we first asked God to be ruled by a man we were making a choice to replace Him as King and set Him aside as an advisor.  Kings tried to keep His laws and guidance at the forefront of their decision-making, but it did not take long before they chose to ignore God’s advice and ruled within their own means, wisdom and judgment. Nations have risen and fallen and their citizens have suffered. Governments have tried to set rules to protect the right to life, liberty, and property for all its citizens but often at the expense of others.
There have been twenty-one amendments to the BNA, some affecting the rights of the people. In 1982 Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau, along with Queen Elizabeth II, signed the Constitution Acts, which turned all remaining legislative and constitutional powers to Canada. We alone would choose our destiny as a country, whether all citizens would benefit or not is something only history can reveal.
Who said “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” It was then Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau in response to new law addressing abortions, homosexuality and contraception. He was partially acknowledging that we choose what happens in our home including whether God is part of our lives. He was relinquishing control of the intimate and important part of our lives to us by suggesting we should be in control of what happens in our home. However we give that control to God asking Him to guide us.
On this 149th birthday celebration we should enjoy the freedom we have to make the decisions that affect our relationship with God, with our family, our country, and even our leaders. We should exercise that freedom with prayer and can start by praying for our leaders who have the impossible task of trying to please every citizen of Canada. Pray they realize that it is only God they need to please.  Pray they are not influenced by popularity but by moral conviction.  Pray they lead by example. Pray they serve with honour and respect for this Nation that God has allowed them to lead.