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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Praying for Unknown People and Concerns


Praying for Unknown People and Concerns

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

                Paul’s teaching to the church people of Thessalonica
called them to pray to God. He writes,” Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Praying in celebration of human events is easy. Rejoicing in God’s blessings is wonderful but what happens when you listen to the news of the day, whether international or local. How do you give thanks to God in these moments? Or even how do you pray for unknown situations or people? Why do we do this?
                The phrase, “I’ll pray for you,” is often uttered by both the faithful and those on the edge because these words may come across as negative. I’ll pray for you- because you need help from God. I’ll pray for you for a better outcome than this. I’ll pray for you because this is not what God or you wanted, is it? Yet when in earnest we say, “I’ll pray for you,” there is so much if we truly sit down and pray for people either aloud or in our hearts. The Spirit stirs us to what we focus upon and that is to focus on the individuals we know who need support for the circumstances they are in- facing losses, experiencing good news,. But it is not up to really know the end result, all we are to do is to lift up the people and the situation and let God answer in his way in His time.
                We pray for people to be ok during and after a flood, because we are aware the God can provide what is needed with the many faithful and willing people who share of themselves. God knows the bigger picture and who is willing to help. Our part is to pray and ask God to intercede through the Spirit by calling his followers to use their hands and feet to respond.
                We also pray for people we do know as they face surgeries, illnesses and chronic care issues. We become aware of situations we know and offer our concerns our thanksgiving and yet we know that it is  God who will respond, yes, no, not yet. So whether we know the individuals or do not it is important to pray . To talk with God about the situations and people who are in need is a vital part of our faith life and growth. To share about the needs of others is how we grow within and care for others. Praying is an act of faith with hope knowing that God will respond. Let us pray!     
 PRAYER
Wonderful God as we pray for those affected by hurricane winds and flooding we know that you are holding those affected through this difficult time. We pray that you would comfort them in this time of loss, and enabling them to see that life is not over just changed. We also pray for those who feel that they are alone in this world and are searching for you. Be with all who are in need of comfort, healing and to be loved.  We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

What does it mean to be INCLUSIVE?


What does it mean to be INCLUSIVE?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mark 7: 24-37

                This scripture passage is the story of Jesus being challenged   Yet Jesus’ response was that he came to save the children of Israel. But the woman did not give up. She said the dogs in Israelite homes receive scraps that the children have left behind. Surely, the crumbs left by the dogs could be used for healing a Gentile woman?
in his ministry by a Syro-Phoenician woman who was Greek. This woman had heard of the man who performed miracles and healed people. When Jesus had left Galilee and gone into Tyre, this woman became aware of his presence because she was searching for a miracle for her daughter. The daughter was possessed by a demon and out of faith, this woman begged Jesus to heal the daughter.
                Jesus whole ministry was changed for not only did he come for the redemption of Jewish or God’s chosen people, Jesus can to save all people. As he was talking with this woman he acknowledged the strength of her faith and he told her that her daughter was healed.
                Did Jesus’ have a new perspective upon healing and even a wider perspective about his mission for all people?
                Jesus had just taught that everything God had made was good. There was nothing that was unclean. Yet in this story he was ready to exclude the Greek speaking Syro-Phoenician woman and her plea to heal her daughter.
                When we think of the church we say we want to be inclusive but are we really? Do we have conditional love for all people? We will welcome you to our church family, but… then the conditions are not made clear but one learns to see who is asked to do things, who is excluded from others. We also see that there are people who want everyone involved yet they themselves do not take part. Is this inclusive or exclusive?
                After Jesus healed this woman’s daughter, the passage continues with Jesus healing a mute and deaf man. The people were overwhelmed with amazement at his ability to do this. He has done everything well. But Jesus’ eyes were also opened—to realize that in his coming to earth, he would become the Saviour not only to the Jewish people, but to all who would receive him. Jesus became inclusive of all  people because this woman spoke up and asked for the crumbs of faith.
                Are you in need of healing? Or maybe you are searching about how to grow in faith? Realizing that Jesus too grew in his understanding of his mission, we may be content to know that we too will continue to learn to grow in knowledge of heart and mind. But we must be ready to ask the questions, to seek the answers and to be open to the Spirit moving in us all!
 PRAYER
Wonderful Jesus, we ask for healing upon those who are not well physically bring healing to the bodies of those who have had surgery, mentally bring clear thoughts and hopes to those not sure of what is real; and openness to all who pray knowing that spiritually they are growing in you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Breath of Life


Breath of Life

 Wednesday, September 5, 2018

'And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life'   Genesis 2:7

                Spending time together as a family is a primary reason for taking
time away from work and the regular routine of life. This summer I was able to take that time away through July and August and so I took a break from writing the Reflections. Now with school back and a somewhat regular routine in place I will once again be writing my thoughts, asking questions of your faith and hopefully giving you something to reflect upon in the middle of the week that causes you to pray, read a Bible passage or even just to stop for a moment!
                One of the things I enjoyed doing most was while being at my parents’ home was to sit outside under the pine trees and read. I don’t recall what novel I was reading but it was such a wonderful setting. It had rained throughout the previous night and the fragrance of pine trees can never really be captured in a spray. It was truly captivating. While reading and sitting a few cars would drive by but other than these few vehicles it was quiet. Sometimes when silence came the song of birds as they flew over or a breeze went through the trees causing leaves to flitter. It was just quiet and this is when I breathed in the pine scent and said, “What a wonderful world!” It was truly a moment of inviting God’s Spirit within. I just sat there, closed my eyes and breathed in the fresh air and relaxed. Stopping all thoughts I exhaled and breathed in again. Things just slowed down for a short time. This is what is meant as clearing the mind and body at the same time! Yet in doing so, I was made to feel alive again! These few minutes are what I needed in order to recharge and to think about life, ministry and family and how all of these are so important in my life!
                But what about you? Did you take time to stop and breathe in to live and enjoy the moment? Did you stop and think about what life is about? Or maybe you were reflecting on what was occurring where you were and what you intend to do? Summer vacations are wonderful and people choose to do different things—filling each day with activities or lazing on a beach; finding the best restaurants to eat a slow dinner or buying groceries and picnicking in a parking lot. Yet what is important in all of these-is being together, discovering something new, and seeing each other learn and grow together.
                As we begin this new academic year and come back to church and worshiping God more regularly, we can take these ideals of what makes a good vacation and share them with our church family. What was a good experience can be shared with others- as long as our focus remains on loving each other God will guide us. We live in a hurry up world—but are we willing to stop and let God’s Spirit come into our being alive? Are we willing to say I need the Spirit in me to guide and protect me each day? Breathe again and receive God’s gift of life. Use every breath you receive to love others and it will make a difference in your life today and always.
PRAYER
God we praise you for life and new beginnings, challenges and dreams. As we stop to reflect we breathe in your presence and know that you are with us. Help us anew as we share with others and our church family this precious gift of life. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Home Sweet Home


Home Sweet Home    
Wednesday, June 20, 2018


                Have you ever taken a trip to see your childhood home?
How have you reacted- with comfort, concern, despair or even cried? Often when we see the home from years before we respond with mixed emotions for it is not the house we see before us, but the memories that come to the front of our hearts and minds. Memories of how we shared special times with our families at that place as we grew older. Memories of relatives and friends coming and going in time. Memories which will never be repeated. It was a house and a home for a time, but home was wherever you established relationships which in turn made new memories.

                When we think of home are we comforted, cared for and loved? We know that for many people home is not this place where loving caring people support and nurture you. It is a place of tears and hopelessness. Yet there is a place that is a forever home and with an eternal family that longs to grow larger. The church. The earthly church is a spiritual family that foreshadows the true, heavenly community for which we long for. For the faithful people of the church, our heavenly home is what we should be yearning for, preparing to see and experience and of course, fill us with hope.

                Paul wrote of the need to be with God and yearned for the eternal home which has been prepared. (2 Cor. 5:1-4) Our true citizenship is in heaven and Christ waits for us. But how do we prepare for this eternal dwelling place? We look to the church for support in times of crises, but are we willing to offer this support to others? The church is a foreshadowing of God’s great goal to create a united, like- minded people made up of every tribe and nation who will worship before God’s throne. This is the reason why we follow Jesus’ command known as the great commission. Matthew 28:19-20.

REFLECTION:
When was the last time you felt ‘homesick’, that is remembering life when you lived as a child, or youth? When young, children make many pictures and have many accomplishments. Often, parents will put these on the refrigerator so that the whole family can see these items. This often is seen as a sign of family support. Imagine if God had a refrigerator; would your pictures be on it?
In faith we believe God calls us to serve, to love others as Jesus taught and to share the message that is in our hearts—loving others. If we believe we need also to know that one day we will be called home by God to rest in heaven, where it is not a lonely place—but a place with the comforts of home- only better! God is in control and all we need do is sing his praise.  Are you yearning to go home one day?

PRAYER
Thank you God that you call us to be like families as we worship and work within our churches. Help us to know that you love us and that we do the work necessary for the sake of your story being told again and again. Hear these prayers as we pray for homes, families and the churches which serve as the family of God for each of us. Amen.

Resource:  (based upon) Kay Swatkowski “Make Yourself at Home: Discovering the Heart of the Church” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2016 (ch.10)    
PLEASE NOTE: Next Reflection sent out July 11!

Thursday, 7 June 2018

What is Hospitality?


Make Yourself at Home
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
What is Hospitality?


                Hospitality enables deeper relationships between people.
Hospitals care for the sick and support patients as they return to health. In the church, hospitality cares for people. True biblical hospitality can return a church to health. When a gift touches our souls, there is healing. Hospitality focuses all attention on the needs of the guest and the host prioritizes the spending of time with the guest.
                Two sisters, Mary and Martha learned that Jesus was coming to their village. IN Luke 10:38-42 we read of their story. Martha was preparing the meal, building a fire, setting the table, fetching the water and wiping sweat as she worked. Mary sat a Jesus’ feet. Martha was annoyed about to cross the line between hospitality and entertaining. She grumbled, “Lord don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” Jesus reminded Martha that she was worried about too many things. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her. Spending time with Jesus is always the most important.
                The early church understood hospitality. They needed to be together to make their relationships all the more precious. They gathered strength from sharing meals. When the disciples traveled to share the good news, they depended upon the hospitality of others. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angles without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2. Hospitality is not entertaining. True hospitality costs.
REFLECTION:
When was the last time you truly felt or showed hospitality? Sometimes we forget that this is a gift of the Spirit which is often seen as being assumed by the church. But people in a church family which is made up of all ages, and stages of life need this hospitality in order to grow and be with people for who they are!
Why do churches have meals or potlucks?  To build up hospitality. Yet often what occurs is that fellowship is moved for something to grow from within to fundraisers where those involved are there to provide a meal and clean up. Little interaction takes place between the hosts and guests. And this is where something is lost in those wonderful church suppers! How might we try to be more hospitable with one another?
PRAYEER
God you have gifted us with many blessings. Help us to be more hospitable and to choose what Jesus said was the right thing to do. To sit and listen at his feet. Help us to have time to do this and to rejoice that Jesus truly loves us for who we are. Enable us to share his love and tell these stories as we become more hospitable. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Kay Swatkowski “Make Yourself at Home: Discovering the Heart of the Church” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2016 (ch.3)

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Make Yourself at Home - What is love?


Make Yourself at Home
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
What is love?

                As Christians we are called to love. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. “ John 13:35 The ancient Greeks had three   Eros- romantic love, philia brotherly love and agape sacrificial love.
words to define love
                Eros- this is not used in the New Testament but it describes most people’s understanding of love; it is romantic love and not the kind of love Jesus commanded Christians to have for one another.
                Philia-philia love is encouraged as it is brotherly love but not commanded. Philia love is emotional responsive love. This also includes affection mutual respect, and camaraderie. Philia love is beautiful, inspiring, and touching it is also friendship. But is not the kind of love Jesus commanded Christians to have for one another.
                Agape- love that is commanded love and is uniquely Christian love It promises meaningful relationships and not the emotion based love of philia. It is an act of the will. It is characterized by acts of sacrificial service. And agape love consistently seeks the benefit of another person. It is always giving! Agape love may be hard to define but we know it when we see it.—Jesus agape loved us so much he gave himself for us!
                Early Christians believed in agape love—All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possession to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:44-45
                Love is central to Christianity—God is love (I John 4:16) God does not ‘do’ love- God IS love! The goal for us as believers is to love from a pure heart.  Wherever love is true—God is there.
REFLECTION:
What is your understanding of ‘love’? By using the Greek translations of love we can redefine who and what we are to love and how close that loving relationship should/ ought to be. When we are in church community the love we experience is because of the love we each have for Jesus and so we want to share it with others. And it is in this loving relationship we remember who we are and what we can be with and for each other. Have you told others in your church that you love them?
A short song has these lyrics:  “I love you with the love of the Lord. Yes I love you with the love of the Lord. I can see in you the glory of my King and I love you with the love of the Lord.”  Would you be comfortable singing this song with your church family? This song expresses the love we are commanded to have with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we willing to share it?
 PRAYEER
God you command us to love each other. Help us to do this when it seems to difficult to reach out and share our love for you with others. Enable us to do this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Kay Swatkowski “Make Yourself at Home: Discovering the Heart of the Church” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2016 (ch.2)

Make Yourself at Home - …love one another even as I loved you…


Make Yourself at Home
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
…love one another even as I loved you…  John 13:34-35

                What is the heart of the church? What are the greatest  that is we do not share and show love for one another.  This love is the heart of the church as people are the witnesses to the reality of Christ’s love
challenges confronting churches today? Swatkowski states that the greatest challenges are relational. That is, when Christians do not connect meaningfully with other believers,
                Jesus came to unveil God’s love in a way the world had never seen before. The theological foundation of the church is the good news of God’s love for humanity as shown through Jesus. The unselfish love of one believer for another shapes the emotional heart of the church. And we need both.
                Why Community is Important—the desire for community is a nearly universal human longing. Whether they admit it or not, every person has a need to connect with God and with others. Some people refuse that connection with God, others thrive on it! But as human beings in order to survive realities of life we need to connect with others to live.
                In times of crisis it is known that when neighbours had more intimate knowledge of each others’ lives they were better able to help. This too is true of those within a church family but only if trust is established.  True Christian community is constant and universal and unchanging. Through each stage of life and difficult we face the church offers a place where we can grow and nurture the loving relationships people crave. And this is true no matter where one travels.
                True Christian community is eternal since it is based upon the eternal person of Jesus. The Christian community will persist through all ages of history and into eternity. Hebrews 12:1-2- “We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”
                True Christian community is made up of believers who have been adopted into the family of God.  It is a place of love, belonging and care without discrimination. Everyone is welcome and everyone receives care. We are family together!
REFLECTION:
When did someone last make you feel welcome in your church? Not just an offering of a cup of coffee but actually asking questions about you and your life? How did this make you feel? How did you respond? Did you ask questions of the other person, too?
PRAYEER
God we thank you that for the church that truly cares about its people being in relationship with one another. Help us to understand Jesus’ teachings on loving others and caring for their needs. Be with us and show us how to love. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Kay Swatkowski “Make Yourself at Home: Discovering the Heart of the Church” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2016.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Message of the Angel


A Rumour of Hope
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
The Message of the Angel
Mark 16:1-8

                Jesus is no longer in the tomb but the tomb is not unoccupied. When the women entered the tomb they saw a young man dressed in white sitting there and they were afraid. He said, ‘don’t be afraid for you are looking of Jeuss the Nazarene who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. Go and tell his disciples.”
                Then the angel tells them where Jesus is going- into Galilee
and this is where you will see him. This statement tells us that he appeared to people at a specific time and space. So the women leave- the empty tomb, the grave clothes and the message of the angel had a profound effect on these women. They were filled with hope and joy and excitement. They were transported from despair into something beyond imagining. So they went out and spread this rumor of hope but it is the only durable rumor of hope the world has ever known.
                Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. According to John’s gospel, after the other women left the tomb, Mary Magdalene lingered. It was in the early morning light that Jesus appeared to her, called her by name. She ran with the news and Peter and John came to the tomb saw the grave clothes and believed.
                According to Mark’s account of the resurrection –the women believed although they did not see. They saw an empty tomb and grave clothes. They did not see Jesus—only Mary did a little later.
Peter wrote “Though you have not seen him you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” (I Peter 1:8)
                What about you? We have not seen the risen Lord, for he departed this realm of visible things many centuries ago. But we have testimony, evidence and the scriptures. Acts 1:3- “He presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” These proofs persuade the intellect and encourage the soul. They awaken hope within us just as those women found their hope awakened in the empty tomb.
                Durable rumor—the only one the world has ever known. But for those who have not yet heard this rumor, the world is still a dark place, as empty of hope as that terrible Saturday between the cross and the resurrection. We have this rumor to share with the world—we need to tell others! It is not a rumor- but by faith we believe!




PRAYEER
God we thank you that by faith we believe that Jesus rose from death and is present with us in hope. Help us to tell this story in faith and with love. Enable us to know and grow in our faith with you. You love us so much that Jesus lived, died and rose again for our sakes. We believe, help our unbelief to grow. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Ray Stedman, “A Rumor of Hope: The Good News of Easter” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2017. (p.29-32)

Thank you for your patience—these past two weeks have been filled with many pastoral and personal care days!

Watch next week for a new series of Reflections!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

From Despair to Ecstasy


From Despair to Ecstasy

Mark 16:1-8

                Dr. Carl F.H. Henry wrote, “Jesus planted the only
durable rumor of hope amid the widespread despair of a hopeless world.”
                At the entrance of the tomb the first whispers of that wonderful rumor—“He has risen!” And then it spread through the streets of Jerusalem! And it is still being shared today—some rumour!!
                This rumour began amid hopelessness and despair according to Mark 16. The women brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body but they were not sure about how they would get into the tomb to do this. Yet upon arrival the stone had been rolled away from the entrance and when they set about their task, there was a young man dressed in white sitting there. He said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Jesus who was crucified is risen.” The women left the tomb and out of fear, said nothing to anyone.
                What were they thinking as they left the tomb? Joy, hope fear?  They were in awe and amazement and even maybe bewildered, shocked, numb?  Maybe they were caught up in an ecstasy of wonder in learning that Jesus is alive.
                When the women came to the tomb they were concerned about how to get into the tomb to be with Jesus’ body as there was a large stone which blocked the entrance. Yet when they arrived they no longer had a task to perform. Jesus was alive. The body was gone but the grave clothes were left behind. The cloth that had been around the Lord’s head was neatly folded and separated from the other grave clothes. The strips of linen that had been around the body had not been unwrapped or unwound. They were lying the form of a person as though the body had vanished from inside them.
                In John’s account of the resurrection story, it is because of the grave clothes that Peter and John were convinced that Jesus was alive. The story of Jesus’ empty tomb and the resurrection spread the Christian story very quickly. It was not a rumour—it is  a central fact of human history. Jesus is alive.
                Recent debates indicate that Jesus’ resurrection is still not certain. But when a rumour spreads and is proven false it usually does not last in its telling for over 2000 years.  Jesus is alvie. And this affirms our faith in God because of his love for us all he gave us Jesus. Jesus came not only to teach and heal, but to give us hope beyond our death. And this is what He did by rising to new life. Do you believe in the resurrection of Christ? How else would you explain the empty tomb?
Reflection
A rumour of hope led to the establishment of the Christian church as believers came to know the Christ of the resurrection as the Son of God. People gathered like Jesus gathered his disciples and ate together, shared love and worshiped God because there was no need to be afraid. Are people afraid to be identified as Christian today by attending church? What does this say about putting our faith out there? Is it by action only and not in the words or the way we live? What does this mean for us/ you?

PRAYEER
We praise you God for the gift of Jesus and that he rose from death for our sakes. Help us to spread the story to others that it is not a rumour, but that you have received His Spirit and know in your heart and mind that he is alive. Help us to believe this with our whole lives and lie for Jesus. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Ray Stedman, “A Rumor of Hope: The Good News of Easter” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2017. (p.23-28)

a Rumour of Hope


The View from the Cross

Who was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified?
3) Mockers and Priests and  4)The Centurion, the Women and the Secret Disciple
                These people’s lives were changed because of their encounters with Jesus- even briefly.

3) Mockers and Priests
                There were passersby at the foot of the cross.
They were bystanders to the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion but when they saw him hanging on the cross they remembered the claims he had made. He claimed that he would destroy the temple and raise it up again. They were shaking their heads at him. Ironically this was the time of the 3 days that he was in fulfilling his own words as he hung from the cross, anticipated his death and his burial.
                The priests and scribes plotted the death f Jesus and they too were at the foot of the cross. They mocked Jesus. “He saved others, but he can’t save himself” They had been frightened and jealous of Jesus as they had witnessed his teaching nd blessing the crowds in ways they could never do. So they plotted against him and they were revelling in the moment as he hung on the cross.
                An unknown man who yells out is also at the foot of the cross. When Jesus calls out to the Father, the voice heard states,”Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” At this moment someone runs and fills a sponge with wine vinegar, puts it on a staff and offers it to Jesus to drink. The voice then states, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Then Jesus breathed his last.
4) The Centurion, the Women and the Secret Disciple
                After Jesus’ death, there is no one who abuses, mocks or reviles him. The centurion was in charge of the soldiers who carried out the crucifixion. When he stood in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this was the Son of God.” He was a Roman soldier, a pagan and likely believed in many gods. Yet to this man the crucifixion was a mistake- an innocent man of God. There was something about the way Jesus died that the centurion had never seen before- dignity, nobility,  a force of personality that transcended the merely human (p. 16)
                The women who cared and loved Jesus included Mary Magdalene, May the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome. John the other disciple was with Jesus’ mother, Mary for in the first 3 hours Jesus was on the cross he committed his mother to the care of John. They have no hope but pray for a resurrection.
                Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of Council went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead but gave the body to Joseph. Joseph bought burial linens, took down the body, wrapped it in linen and placed it in a tomb. He rolled a stone in front of the tomb. Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus body had been buried. Joseph was a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin and believed in Jesus but was afraid to profess his faith.
                Jesus cries, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Jesus dismisses his spirit. His death was deliberate and voluntary. He was a sacrifice. Within the temple wall the veil which enclosed the ‘holy of holies’ was torn from top to bottom. Yet now with Jesus’ death the holy of holies was exposed.  These 3 events tie together to form the meaningful truth: The way into the heart of God is wide open. All are welcome.
Reflection  Read Mark 15
In sharing the story of Jesus’ death have you ever paid attention to the role of the bystanders? The centurion’s words and Joseph of Arimathea?  Often we dismiss them because we are overcome with the death of Jesus. Yet these people played a significant role in this story. They see the bigger picture. But do you? Often we are bystanders to a situation and like witnesses to the crime we should tell others.
Prayer
God of grace and love we thank you for Jesus’ death on the cross for our sakes. Help us to have and kep hope alive because of him. We ask O God in prayer. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Ray Stedman, “A Rumor of Hope: The Good News of Easter” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2017. (p.15-21)

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

A Rumour of Hope


A Rumour of Hope
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

                A story about the island of Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands For seven years this colony existed before a Belgian priest volunteered to serve among the lepers. He arrived in 1873 with skills ranging from carpentry to medicine. He lived among the lepers and taught the people how to construct buildings, cared for those living, buried the dead and encouraged them through prayer and preaching.
reveals that in the 1800’s hundreds this island found in paradise was really an island of horrors. Leprosy broke out in 1848 and by the 1860’s it was an epidemic. The government of the time rounded up everyone infected with the disease and they were quarantined. They were cut off from the rest of the world by a 16 foot cliff with no dock or harbour. Lepers would be made to jump overboard and swim to the shore. There was no shelter, drinking water or anything else. If they survived it was in caves or crude shacks. Sometimes supply slips would toss crates of food into the water and if the currents were cooperative, the supplies might reach the shore.
                One evening while washing his feet, Father Damien de Veuster learned that he too had taken their disease into himself. (1885). Standing in front of his congregation the following Sunday, he spoke simple words, “we lepers.” He died 4 years later.
                This story of Father Damien reminds us of Jesus who came among us while people were searching, isolated, and condemned by sin, castaway without any hope. He came as a carpenter, healing nd teacher. Jesus encouraged people with prayer and preaching and in the end he took upon himself the sins of the world, for our sake.
                In this Holy Week we are reminded of the moments written by Isaiah when Jesus was crucified on the cross. Jesus paid this penalty on our behalf so that we might live eternally with him.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Reflection:How does reading Isaiah’s prophecy about the one who would be Messiah help you to understand what Jesus did for us on the cross?
Why is it necessary to hear Jesus’ passion story his arrest, trial and crucifixion and burial as part of Holy Week? Why don’t people want to listen to it?
We need to hear the story of Jesus’ death so that we can truly celebrate his resurrection. But many people don’t like feeling uncomfortable if given a choice. What do you think? Should we skip Good Friday and only worship on Easter?
Prayer: God of grace we praise you and thank you for sending us Jesus to be our Saviour. We don’t like to hear the words of sorrow and pain and agony which he endured for us but we know it is necessary to understand what he did for our sake. Teach us again the depth of his love and show us your way. We ask in Jesus’ name so that we might have hope because of Christ’s resurrection. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Ray Stedman, “A Rumor of Hope: The Good News of Easter”Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2017.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

People are hurting and have been hurting themselves and others for generations.


Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

                People are hurting and have been hurting themselves and  Yet when out of opportunities to live a healthier life, change seems the only alternative. But there is hope in this because change can and often be a positive end result to the hurt of the past.
others for generations. The real resolution to these hurts is to bring about change. But of course, for some people change is sometimes seen as worse than the hurt one experiences.
Wilson’s Theory of Change:  Making and consistently practicing new choices produces change.
Our change efforts have eternal significance however, when they are empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. To really understand the change process we need to understand the choices we can make.
Paul writing to the Corinthians—“Put away childish things” I Cor. 13:11 in order to be mature adults. What does this mean? It means to set these things aside intentionally. That is by choice!
There are elements that you cannot change:
·         Parents’ sin natures,
·         parents’ predispositions (susceptibility to alcoholism, schizophrenia and intelligence),
·         parents’ person issues  Routine responsibilities and life dominating issues
·         parents’ attitudes and actions toward us
·         family atmosphere
·         own sin natures
·         own genetic predispositions and natural endowments
But there are elements you can change: 
“If we don’t change our direction, we are apt to end up where we are headed.” Chinese proverb
1.       Our relationship with God
2.       Our relationship  with others
3.       Our relationship with ourselves

1.       God- whose rules should we follow.  If we chose to know God and put Him first in our lives, we will begin to live by His rules
2.       Ezekiel 18:20  each of us dies for our own sins.; vs 30 says that we are to turn away from all our sins so that they may not become a stumbling block to us.  We must take responsibility for our own choices
                This includes the time it takes for this process of change to work!  Change is the journey—relates to the unappealing prospect that is ongoing and sometimes an emotional upheaval.

3.       To change our relationship with others we need a power source! Zechariah 4:6—not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit..
This hurt is SIN and everyone has sinned- people who are hurt and unhurt; people who are good living citizens and people caught up in their hurtful past.

Christians believe- that Jesus had no sin yet chose to die for our sins so that we could experience the eternal quality of life that exists only in personal relationship with Him.
With Jesus as the pilot of our lives—we can change—
We need town our responsibilities in the injury-recovery, healing from hurts changing process but we are not alone in this if we believe in God’s unseen Spirit which will energize us and help us along the way.
Question—have you been hurt in the past that you’ve almost given up who you are?
What has helped you to realize that there is hope?
Have you ever looked to God or His Son Jesus to truly help you?
The most significant life changing choice you will ever make is asking Jesus to pilot your life, supervise your choices as you heal and change and live a renewed life and have a new purpose.
All you need to do is choose Jesus and pray words like these:
PRAYER:
Jesus I want to know you personally. Come into my lie and forgive my sins. Thank you for paying for my sins through your death. Thank you for loving me. Change my heart and help me to be faithful to you. Thank you for leading my life now and always. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon )Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.7  

Are you worth it? Are you worth knowing, respecting and loving? Do you love yourself?


Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, March 14 2018


                Are you worth it? Are you worth knowing, 
respecting and loving? Do you love yourself?
Have you ever denied your own emotions or told to do so? Or if you do get angry then you need help? Men and women are emotional beings but often we are told to deny these feelings in order to get ahead or to mature properly.
Anger is not a sin (Ephesians 4:26) we need to recognize and respect chunks of our emotions because if we do this we often turn to ways which become addictions as they serve as emotional anesthetics.
Addictions produce a pleasurable mood change yet they also bring problems—they wear off and cause you to get greedy. They may also add to your pain.
Life is filled with pain and the more we refuse to face our feelings and this pain we will keep searching for a fix. Some of these are ‘approved’ addictions—shopping, overspending, physical care,
Change= new choices and consistent practice
Healing Self-concept and Perfectionism
·         Learn the difference between self- focus and self-awareness
·         Begin learning who you really are  James 1:23
·         Redefine yourself and key people in your life from a more mature and truthful perspective
Changing Self- inflicted Needs-denial Wounds
Truth honouring ways to respect your legitimate needs:
·         Learn to identify long denied needs
·         Purposefully identify, engage and extend your support system into a helping network
·         Begin to see yourself as clean (I John 1:7)
·         Respect your body
·         Schedule time for you
There are 4 key issues to consider about healing from Self- inflicted wounds:
1)      Performance based worth
2)      Perfectionism
3)      Denying my own needs
4)      Denying my real feelings
QUESTIONS: What truths do you see in these issues for you?
What choices do you have and can make about change in your life
What new practices are you willing to try as you progress through changes in your life?

PRAYER
God of love, I am your child and I believe you love me no matter what. Thank you Jesus for you are my Saviour and you have loved me so much you died to forgive me. Help me now as I continue to heal and find a new me for you to love even more! Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.8  

Life is a series of change and choosing new directions.


Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, March 21 2018

                Life is a series of change and choosing new directions.   Many factors contribute to this- the depth of our wounds, the support and helping resources available to us, and the level of our cooperation with the Spirit of God. But what fuels us is God who is committed to life. But we must have hope for if we have no hope we die.
The healing process invites us to let each of our change journeys develop as uniquely as we do.
                We are called to be stewards of all aspects of our lives including the weaknesses caused, in part by childhood wounds. We are called to bring to God our fears, cares, futures and weaknesses.  We are also to go to God with our suffering so that we’ll know Him as Comforter. We really will experience God’s comfort when we suffer. But we will suffer and there will be scars. But these scars have hope.
                When we think of Jesus, he too had scars—in his hands, feet and side. These  marks were where the nails and sword penetrated Jesus’ body. But we also know that it is because of these scars we are given the gift of eternal life. So where do we place our hope?
                In Jesus “for he was pierced for our transgressions he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us (brings us) peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). God gave to us Jesus out of love so that when we hurt we may have hope in him. “This hope is what sees in the splintered fragments of our broken lives, the reflection of His empty tomb.” (p.240)
Reflection:
As we consider Jesus as the “wounded healer” how does knowing that He was wounded for us/ you as an individual make a difference for where you place your hope?
What does it mean to be healed? Is it for always or is it an ongoing process?
We are people who from time to time hurt and in turn hurt others. But are we willing to help others be healed in faith? To bring others to the cross of Christ and the empty tomb of Jesus knowing that there is hope beyond the grave? Hurt people may hurt people. But helping people love others who hurt. Jesus calls us to love each other—wounds and all. Let us remember this as we pray:
PRAYER
Praise be to you O God because you love me scars and all. Thank you for Jesus who was scarred and wounded for me. Help me to love others and tell others of his love with hope for tomorrow. Be with me always as I continue to love others scars and all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.15

Watch for a new Easter series starting next week—during Holy Week!    

Friday, 2 March 2018

But if anyone causes one of these little ones to sin


Hurting, Healing and Hope

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones to sin, ..” Matthew 18:4-7
                We continue to discover that ‘hurt’ comes in many forms and   in order to heal from these hurts, we need to name the hurt. Some of these hurts start out as fantasies and some result because of childhood choices. Yet how we discern these fantasies makes a difference in how we respond to them.
from different sources. But
Fantasy 1—unlimited power to control- Children are the centre of the universe and they possess the power to cause events and control other people’s actions and emotions.
Fantasy 2- unlimited knowledge to cure; Children can re-do anything in order to change an outcome without consequences
These fantasies are reinforced by others including:
a) Our own “I’dolatry—I can be like God unlimited power; (omnipotence) or knowing the end from the beginning (omniscience)—figuring out how to change things; I can know everything and how to fix everything and everybody
b) New age spirituality- self empowerment means universal power and unlimited human potential
c) Parental stumbling blocks- believing that children are knowledgeable;  Children have limited cognitive development that prevents them from making choices; children should not be blamed for adult actions example: you love to make me hit you
d) Self-protection- they are afraid and powerless to have parents stop abusing tem.
Have you been hurt in the past, maybe even currently?
REFLECTION: Read the following statements and check the ones that describe your views:
1)      If I were a better person (a better Christian) I could change my (spouse, child, friend…)
2)      If someone disagrees with me, his or her opinions are usually right.
3)      I am responsible for the problems in my family (office, small groups,)
4)      When things go wrong, it’s usually my fault.
5)      If I (whatever) then (whoever) would (whatever).   
These statements—reveal the influence of childhood fantasies!

But we are called to live in truth
1)      I do not have the power to change anyone, no matter how much ‘better’ I get.
2)      My opinions are as valid as anyone else’s.
3)      I share responsibility for the atmosphere of my family, office, small group.
4)      When things go wrong, I am sometimes responsible; sometimes partly responsible and sometimes not responsible
5)       Doing whatever with whomever has no bearing on their resulting actions. The other is responsible for their actions and behaviours.
Prayer: God help us to trust you enough to let you be who you and you alone are—the One who Controls all things and changes people. Thank you for understanding how difficult this is for each of us because of the deep wounds which have occurred in our lives. Reveal to us all the hope that you give through Jesus our Saviour. Amen.
Resource:  Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.4-5         

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

It has been said that most people receive more instruction for driving a car than for becoming a parent.

Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, February 21, 2018

                It has been said that most people receive more instruction
for driving a car than for becoming a parent.  If you were to think back to when you were young, did your parents always do the right thing from your point of view? When you misbehaved was the punishment you received fair, adequate or over the top?
                We know through child development studies that certain attributes or abilities are reached at certain age levels of maturity as a child grows up. However parents who do not understand normal child development often hurt their children unintentionally. This contributes to unnecessary and undeserved shame in the child.  There are different kinds of shame and as a child grows up, if parents are not willing to teach their children with patience, persistence and instruction, these children will suffer long-term effects of trying to be perfect. Parents who are unavailable to their children, or parents with their own personal problems will lead to their children’s own hurts and poor priorities.
                Problems lie because parents often forget that from the moment their children are born these little ones depend upon their adult parents to discover the world into which they have been born. But the business of providing for the needs of children and the family as a whole sometimes overshadows the nurturing that is required.
                In hurtful families, normal childhood behaviour brings out responses from parents with unrealistic expectations and perfectionistic demands. These hurtful words often have longer lasting effects than the actual action that occurred. What kinds of words do you remember from your childhood? What have you said to your children?  Were your parents available to you? Are you fully available to your children?
                How have you grown from being hurt, to hurting and then not hurting others? Do you need help in this? Start by taking these hurts to God in prayer. Most parents love their children and do the best they know how to do. But sometimes and in some circumstances there is no rationale or understanding of what is best for a child. This is when hurt enters in this relationship.
                But God calls us to know that his love is everlasting and that we are not alone in any situation. We just need to face the hurts, express these hurts to God and we will be heard in a new way.
                God is our heavenly Father our creative Mother and wants the best for us, how might you tell God your hurts of the past, and your hurting today?
Question for Reflection:
Consider your own childhood. How did your parents share and show their love?
If you have children, how do you show your love? Do they know this is love in action?
Prayer: God help us to remember that parents are not perfect and that they like other people do hurt unintentionally. Remind me that as I seek truth about your love for me, that you would enable me to love others as you do- unconditionally. Hear my prayer. O God. Amen.
Resource:  Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.3

And where is God in all this hurt for He does understand hurt and pain.

Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, February 14, 2018


                Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is a
reminder of who we are –dust and to dust we shall return. In this time we are invited to look inwardly and take this time for self-evaluation. It is also a time to focus on one’s faith journey with God and to begin a reflective journey with Jesus in the desert. It is also a time to renew faith as you remember Jesus’ Passion. And to look within to see the hurts of the past caused by others, and to see the hurt around which you have caused others to be.
                As we look at ourselves we might ask, how have we been hurt by others? How do we hurt others? And where is God in all this hurt for He does understand hurt and pain.
                “Scripture declares that the primary wound affecting all of us is spiritual and is self-inflicted. We have all fallen to sin as humans under physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Physically we can be hurt by machine, microbes and other sources. Mentally, we might see our sin in the flaws of human reasoning. Spiritually we have turned away from God and often this leads to being hurt again and again.
                Often when people are hurting they use anger to disguise and deflect their guilt and grief. Anger provides an illusion of personal power that may temporarily block feelings of confusion and helplessness that commonly result from painful personal crises. But just because we understand a behaviour it does not make it acceptable. There is something better and it is wisdom.
Proverbs 14:8   The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to they ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
Deception flows in two directions inward and outward—convincing ourselves and other that we are strong and invincible instead of weak, wounded and easily hurt.
 Psalm 139:23-24   Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
The psalmist asks God to search his heart to see if there is any hurtful/ wicked/ offensive way within. (different translations for ‘hurt’) yet all three describe a manner of life that is potentially harmful to self and others. How might you ask God in this?
Question for Reflection:
Have you ever been the target of hurtful words? Have you ever said such words?
What occurred after these situations? Do you thin wounding others comes as a result from being wounded and not ‘owning’ them?
In this Season of Lent—look at the wounds you have, and what you have done to hurt others.
Prayer: God please continue to teach us to value self-awareness and inner honesty as much as your Word reveals that you do. Give us the wisdom to know if today is one of those times when we each need to pay special attention to the wounds we cannot see especially in those that wound people close to us. Amen.

Resource:  Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001.