A Note of Thanks & A Request

Today, the 1st of December, is Giving Tuesday, which I am sure is not a surprise. Like you, I have received numerous notices in the lead up to today letting me know that this day is the time to turn our thoughts towards non-profits and charitable organizations and consider providing your preferred agencies with an end-of-the-year contribution. For those of you who have done so already I offer my sincere thanks. The causes that you support could not accomplish what they are called to do without you.

Since, you are receiving this notice I know that you have a heart for what the MCF seeks to accomplish as well. We have been given a simple mission – bring the gospel to the military community at home and abroad. To this mission the MCF team has been unrelentingly dedicated. While COVID-19 has closed the doors of many institutions, the MCF has expanded its ministry footprint through the online environment. We have an established online men’s discipleship model; we have been preparing to launch a January 2021 online women’s discipleship group; we have held an online seminar in partnership with Ellel Ministries Canada aimed at bringing Christ-centered healing to those suffering from trauma; we are in our second season of running online Alpha courses and have established both Eastern Canada and a Western Canada-based teams; we are in the early stages of participating with Ottawa Innercity Ministries to reach homeless veterans with the love of Christ, and we are beginning the planning for a 2021 seminar on bi-vocational ministry for military community members. There is a lot to get excited about.  But… we need more.

We need more of the Holy Spirit to move in the lives of military community members drawing them to Jesus. We need more of the Holy Spirit’s power in the lives of those who are serving so that they will not grow weary, but rather be increasingly energized to accomplish what God is placing before us to do each day. We need more of your prayers of intercession for the lost, the broken hearted, and the workers who bring the message of Jesus. And we also need your financial support.

If you have already completed your allocation of charitable giving for the year, then again, I express to you gratitude for your generosity to those needy organizations.  If you have the capacity to give more then please consider the MCF and its work to bring the gospel to the military community.  There is no other entity in Canada that is exclusively focused on this mission. We have only one staff member and the rest of the team are bi-vocational volunteers. We have no buildings, and we have no inventory thus our expenses are kept low. But we have a big mission, and a consuming passion for our Lord and His call to reach the military community, and we do need your help.  Please consider supporting the MCF financially, today.

Sincerely and with gratitude,
Gerry Potter
Colonel (Retired)
The MCF of Canada

Good News

“Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people,” Luke 2:10.

Christmas is a beautiful time of year. All of us (believer and non-believer) are brought face to face with God’s plan for our redemption. A King was born into this world to save the world from itself.
A king who eventually will witness every knee bow and tongue confess that He is Lord.

Christmas is about a Saviour. Our world doesn’t know. They think that Christmas is about gifts under a tree and a spirit of good cheer, with Christmas dinner and family around the table. But as good as all that may be, it isn’t nearly as good as the Real Christmas. The Real Christmas message is this: God has sent a Saviour for you. To save you and I from our sins and help us in this life, lift our burden and ease our fears. This Saviour is Christ the Lord — God himself!

The pandemic absorbs the world, and many are fearful. But fear’s hold has been broken in those of us who believe the angel’s words: “Fear not … for a Saviour is born to you — Christ the Lord!”

This December, will you take time to look around you and watch Christmas being discussed and shared. Will you not get all wound up on how people greet each other? Will you pray daily that more people will welcome Jesus into their lives. Pray the Holy Spirit moves amongst our family and friends drawing them closer to an understanding of God, so they recognize and understand why Christians celebrate this season. Don’t be a Grinch by telling people what they should be doing this season but be a spreader of glad tiding and good cheer so that people may see joy in Christmas by your actions, behaviours and words.

Through eyes of love

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
 John 16:33

There is something special about the way many grandparents view the world, especially where grandchildren are involved.  They ignore faults and overlook shortfalls. They see something in them that many may miss. These grandparents see the world differently, not because they are naïve, but because they see these things in them with a grandparent’s love. We must view the world around us with loving eyes; otherwise, we can miss reaching out to those who need Jesus.

Have you asked God to assist you to see our world differently? The world where our family, friends, neighbours, and even strangers, we pass daily on the street live.  All of humanity is created in God’s image. But, since the first created humans started to explore God’s goodness, the evil one proudly sought to distort God’s purpose for us, and our image became corrupted. In God’s world, He wants us to leave judgement to Him and have us focus on telling our world what He has done for us. He created this world to sustain us and allows us to live in it, but He does not want to treat His creation as our realm, stepping over each other to get what we desire at the expense of another.

Satan’s forces have played havoc with this world since the garden. In 2020 we have centuries of experience passed on from generation to generation that causes us to see the world through selfish eyes. We need God’s help to see the world as He does. God does want us to look at each other with the greeting card Valentine’s Day, emotional, passionate type of love, but mostly with love based on honour and respect. If we desire to see the world as He does, we need to ask. When we ask God, He will change our prayers. We will find ourselves praying in partnership with the Holy Spirit. We will see that when we talk with God about our role in His world, He will make His purpose for our lives clearer. Nicole, next time you pray, ask God to let you see the world with “grandparent” eyes.

May God allow and help us to change.

Am I my Brother’s Keeper?

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  

Genesis 4:9.

It is almost impossible not to turn on the TV or read a new paper and not hear about famous siblings. We have the “celebrity” Kardashian-Jenner sisters, Hockey had the Staal brothers, figure skating had Torvill and Dean, wrestling brought us the Hart family, and the music world introduced us to Donny and Marie Osmond – too old, how about the Jonas brothers. These siblings were often in the news because of the good things they did together, but sometimes we heard about them because of what they did to each other.

Genesis records the story of the first children born out of a human relationship. Sadly, Cane and Abel are recognized not by the fact they were the first children mentioned in the bible, but their notoriety is linked to being part of the first family tragedy. Sibling rivalry is one way in which the evil one attempts to destroy families and has played on his success since the day these brothers were together. Cain, the firstborn child, murdered his brother Abel, the second-born child and sibling jealousy has continued to this day.

Some of us have grown up in the shadow of another sibling and spent what seemed like a lifetime being compared to them and even told to be “more like them”. Whenever we are compared against one another, the evil one will use this as an opportunity to stir something up. Have you seen a family tragedy play out? It is a heartbreaking thing to watch as not only are the feuding siblings affected, so is the rest of the family. Brothers and sisters not talking to each other for years because of something probably long forgotten and not even severe enough to have been considered can deprive many relatives of a loving family relationship.

Maybe it is time we change that situation. Satan can not be allowed to have victory over families because he was defeated at the cross. We, the children of God, can claim victory over him. Today we ask that you pray for a broken sibling relationship that you know about, whether it is in your own family or is happening to a friend or colleague. Consider conflict in both biological and spiritual relationships. Ask the Holy Spirit to intervene in the lives of those in conflict and ask that He bring them together as God intended.  Lastly, thank God for your own brother or sister, and if you are an only child, thank God for the wonderful sibling relationships you know about.  Ask Him to bless and protect these relationships.

We Remember

At the 11th hour, on the 11 Day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice was signed that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I, bringing about peace that had not been felt for several years. Today Armistice Day is no longer about celebrating peace, but it is about remembering those who died in the conflict. On 11 November we use the name Remembrance Day and mark it with ceremonies to remember the Canadian men and women who have lost their lives in war in defence of our freedom. Since confederation approximately 111, 000 Canadian soldiers have died in wars and  many more injured. The sacrifices were not in vain and the rights they fought for are outlined in our 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedom. Because of their willingness to stand against oppression we have the freedom to pray whenever we want, read scripture, gather to worship, and tell others about Jesus. These freedoms allow us to enjoy and share the blessings God has given us.

However, since the beginning, there has been an enemy trying to destroy our freedom and the might of all the armies on the earth can never conquer it. Scripture tells us “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6: 12. Only the sacrifice of Jesus could free us from the grip of Satan’s influence over our mindset.  Jesus died to liberate everyone from the worldly or ego-based mindset that separates us from God and that affects our faith in his power and authority over the physical, emotional and financial negativity of life.

On Remembrance Day the bugle call draws people together to reflect on war sacrifices. Bugles had been part of military life and were used to signal daily events that occurred in a soldier’s life – they sounded when it was time to get up, go to bed, time to eat and so on. They were also used in battle to signal movement. Trumpets are symbols of strength in the bible and they are sounded when something significant is about to happen. The book of Revelation reminds us that Christ will return to the earth and bring about peace. We will know that He comes at the sound of the trumpet. Revelations Chapter 8-11 speaks about the 7 Trumpets that will announce the end of time. The first six trumpets are used to serve as a wakeup call to the sinners on Earth and a call to repentance. Each trumpet blast brings with it a plague of a more disastrous nature than the one before it. The seventh trumpet does not bring a plague with it. Rather, it is sounded so that glory is given to God and His kingdom is announced.

On 11 November we remember the sacrifices of those men and women who went to war so that we could have the freedoms we have today. However, their sacrifices are in vain if we do not accept the freedoms given to us by Jesus’ sacrifice. The freedom to make choices that affect our lives, the lives of our families and our community and the freedom of choice that affects our eternity. The freedoms earned by our military can be taken away from us by our government or a foreign aggressor, but the freedom Jesus gave us over sin can never be taken from us.

When you hear the bugle call this Remembrance Day, remember our fallen soldiers and the battle they fought for us. But also remember Jesus’ sacrifice grants us the freedom to choose victory over the oppressive and destructive nature of sin, freedom from falling to temptation and making poor choices that destroy families, marriages, and communities. Jesus’ sacrifice freed us for hopelessness and offered joy and peace of mind. Let’s honour the sacrifices of our military by accepting the gift of Jesus.

See the Need

The book of Acts shares a story of Peter and John’s encounter with a beggar. It reads,” One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So, the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:1-6)

Have you ever watched people approach a street beggar? Many will move to the opposite side of the sidewalk or, if they are unable to do so, will either lower their head and look at the ground or fiddle with their phone or something else to suggest they are too busy to notice someone seeking help. Have you ever wondered what the panhandler’s thoughts are when they witness this avoidance tactic? Most homeless people and street beggars are not naive about their situation. Many acknowledge that they contributed to their current situation, and none will ever say their dream was to live on the street and beg for assistance. Regardless of how they got there, their position is demoralizing and humiliating and watching people look away makes them feel like pariahs in their communities.

In the name of Jesus, Peter gave the lame man the ability to walk. He could feel like a member of society, like a human being. He could go home, face his neighbours and participate in his upkeep. Peter and John remind us that the needy are created in the image of God and are deserving of our love and respect. Peter and John stopped, looked at the individual, and talked with him. They were able to bring Jesus to another by merely acknowledging his existence. How do we respond in similar situations? How do we react or interact with someone we know who is struggling with PTSD, anxiety or depression? They often hide themselves as they try to deal with their issue alone, but how do we treat them when they venture into the community? Those who are homeless, use food banks or suffer from invisible illnesses and desire our acknowledgement, not judgment or contempt.

God created us to live in relationship with one another, but many don’t because they can’t get past outer appearances. On our street corners are visible reminders of people in need, but many are blinded to them because they choose to look the other way. Jesus taught us that we must interact with those whom society overlooks or looks down upon. Followers should decide whether they should emulate Jesus’ behaviour or look the other way. Can we offer more than silver and gold to those around us? Can we do something about those needing food and shelter? Can we help those with family troubles, invisible illnesses, or lack of hope? Can we look at and face someone who had been marginalized by society and see their need?

People need Jesus regardless of their status in society. It is easy to look at the misery in the world and ask, “why does God allow this to happen.” However, do you wonder if God asks the question, “why are we letting things happen around us when we can help?” Do you have the desire to face someone in need and say, “look at me,” and listen to them into existence?   The reality is that it is difficult and somewhat unnatural to interact with those in need, and that is why we have the Holy Spirit. He encourages and guides us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Start your day by asking God how you can bring some hope to those around you and be prepared to meet and interact with those who need Jesus.

Crutches, Yokes and the Cross

Have you heard people say that Christianity and the Church are just “crutches” for the weak and naïve who need them just to get through life?

A crutch is a medical implement used
by people for support when they are injured. A crutch does suggest the user is wounded. A crutch is temporary.
But, what Jesus and His church offers are everlasting.

If seeking God and going to church is considered a crutch, what better support can we receive especially when it helps us learn the truth about the Creator of the universe who invites us to lean on Him while we gain our footing and to remain with us as we face a world that will hurt us again.

Who is not wounded or injured?
Who does not need hope?
What do people rely on to get themselves through life’s struggles and difficult times?
People count on all kinds of things for their comfort or self-esteem, ranging from material possessions, money, food, to cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and sex. Rather than being viewed as signs of weakness, many of these aids are considered to be relatively normal in society. Many of these crutches only offer a short-term release from the struggles of life and sometimes only cover up deeper problems. To begin to recover we need support, encouragement and hope. We need to realize that we were created in the image of God – for God. Trust and belief in Him can help us throw off the crutches that slow us down and prevent us from doing what He desires for us.

Many believers testify to the transformative effect that becoming a Christian has
had on their lives including being delivered from some of the crutches they had previously relied upon. In Matthew11:28-30, Jesus invites us to Him to let Him help us with our burdens. He says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus invites believers, through His church, to support others as they seek to cast off their crutches.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 share: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up”. 

God wants what is good for us. He does not want the troubles of life to cause us to turn to a world that offers temporary relief with a placebo that hide or mask our needs and may even make life worse. When asked why Jesus hung around the hurting, sinners and broken, He replied: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:33.

Jesus invites all His followers to help one another but the truth of the matter is that Jesus never offered a crutch, only a cross. We must eventually move from our dependence on these. His invite wasn’t a call to be a better person with high self-esteem or a plan to help us scrape through our existence. It was a call to acknowledge that the help we need and the forgiveness we all seek is to be found in Him. Proverbs 3 shares: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

As we grow with the support of other believers we are guided to depend on Jesus. He is the one who delivers us from the crutches we have rested upon and with the Holy Spirit’s prompting and support we willingly submit to the Father’s will and trust Him.

Lonely Places

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

In 2014 I wrote my first article challenging people to reflect on their prayer practices. I realized, even after six years have passed, that each of the questions asked are one I must still ask myself today.

These are the questions asked:

Do you pray more than you did a year ago?

Do you have set times in which you speak with God?

Do you pray on the fly?

What causes you to pray?

Do you fell a nudge from the Holy Spirit, or do you only pray when something good or bad is happening around you?

Do you think prayer is intermingled with all other parts of your life, or is it just another activity that may or may not occur during your day?

Do you know the purpose and value of prayer?

Visualize someone who you cannot stop thinking about because of the fond feelings you have for them. Consequently, there may be phone calls or texts to that person to say hello. In addition to the unexpected connections throughout the day, scheduling a time to meet with them and looking forward to seeing them at the scheduled time keeps your relationship alive. Furthermore, the climactic feeling of being with them and then having to say “I hate to leave” keeps the relationship strong. This desire to connect should be the attitude and concept of scheduled prayer.

 Planned prayer, and the anticipation of that time with God, keeps our soul charged.

During Jesus’ earthy ministry, the people of Israel had set prayers times. They drew on the practices and words of David and Daniel and prayed three times a day. These times also coincided with sacrifice times in the temple and helped people focus on loving the Lord with all their being. They had developed the habit of personal and group prayer times. Jesus prayed during these times showing how to maintain an intimate relationship with the Father.

Starting our day in prayer sets the tone for the day with the One who first loved us. However, prayer is meaningful at any hour of the day. It is an essential part of Christian life, but many people have forgotten that talking with God can improve our lives in so many ways. God wants us to speak with Him, and even when we do not know what to say, He still wants us to stop and come before Him; He will read our hearts. Continue to pray whenever you feel compelled but consider being more intentional about setting up a time to stop what you are doing and acknowledge our God.

Remember: “Planned prayer, and the anticipation of that time with God will keep your soul charged.”

What is Normal?

The first book of the Bible highlights the reality that people are flawed. Cain was jealous of Abel and killed him. Lamech introduced polygamy to the world. Noah, the most righteous man of his generation, got drunk and cursed his son. Lot, when his home was surrounded by residents of Sodom who wanted to violate his visitors, he offered to let them have sex with his daughters instead. Abraham had relations with his wife’s servant, then sent her and their son off to the wilderness at his wife’s request. Jacob married two wives and ended up with their maids as his concubines when everyone got into a fertility contest.

There’s a significant reason these stories were included in scripture; the writer was trying to establish a profound theological truth – everybody’s flawed. All of us have habits we can’t control, past deeds we can’t undo, and flaws we can’t correct. We know in our hearts that this is not the way we’re supposed to be, so we try to hide our flaws. We pretend to be healthier and kinder than we are.

We were created as God’s idea of normal, in the image of the Holy God. His normal for us was to love one another and to be able to make the right choices. Our reasoning, understanding, will and affections were aligned with God. Normal included the fact that our relationship with the world and each other was one of love and respect, just like God’s.

We are flawed, and that is ok because we are not alone. Despite our flaws, God chooses to work with us and transform us to get close to being the normal He desires for us. The next time you feel inclined to point the finger at someone and suggest they are not normal, remember who you are. Putting everyone in the same category helps us see the world through God’s eyes and allows us to serve His creations.

Death does not end.

Last week the community of Blackville, NB buried three teenage boys who died in a car accident. A year earlier, they cried together over the loss of a teenage girl, who, along with her father, died on the Miramichi River in a rafting accident. Prior to that, they gathered to mourn the passing of a teenage boy killed in an ATV accident. In a world where millions die each day, to many, these five deaths do not seem noteworthy, but in a community where everyone knows everyone, death, especially that of youngsters, hits hard.

When Jesus witnessed those mourning for the death of His friend Lazarus, scripture records, “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33 NIV). The original Greek text uses words to imply Jesus was outraged with Himself. He was upset upon seeing the impact that sin and death have on the world. He felt outraged, but it was replaced with raw grief as He wept. Even though He would raise Lazarus, He did not emotionally detach himself from this awful reality. However, unlike many who see death as the end of life and the beginning of nothing, Jesus did not despair, and neither should we.

Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13). We must not be terrified like those who cannot see beyond the grave.

We were all shocked by the news of these deaths because we assume they had many more years of life to live. Scripture shares that life is uncertain and fleeting. James writes, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-15 NIV).

We must trust in the truth that Jesus has triumphed over death, but that does not mean we must pretend that death isn’t awful. When loved ones die, we are angry at the unfairness of death. But we can weep knowing that our Saviour wept the same tears. These deaths remind us that we dare not presume on the future. We have only the present moment to serve God and our neighbours. While we may still grieve, we must not be despondent because the life of our Saviour is in us, and we look forward to a day when the last enemy of the world is destroyed.

Pray for the community of Blackville, NB.