CANADAâ€™S CHRISTIAN YOUTH MAGAZINE
Candace Maxymowich p. 4
Katie Gregoire Growing Up, Gaining Followers &Glorifying God
Abigail Morgan p. 8
LIVING WITH DIVORCE Shawn LaVie p. 16
WHO, JESUS? Josiah Piett p. 19
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WORDS FROM THE EDITOR
By Conor Sweetman What season are we in? Winter, of course — easy enough to judge by the constant small talk about the snow. What is the season of your soul? That may be harder to answer. We talk about it much less than the weather. What work is God doing in and around you? As a Christian, we must have an answer to this question. By turning our attention to seasons that do not rely upon sun or clouds, we can tune ourselves to the thermometer of the Word. Ecclesiastes says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.… He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:1-10). Times of transitions usually call our attention to Christ in a unique way. Often, we are led by life’s uncertainties to a place of desperate reliance on Him, where He wants us to be. However, there are times we might not be attuned to our spiritual seasons, as Eugene Peterson writes in his introduction to the book of Micah in The Message. “During the humdrum times, when things are, as we tend to say ‘normal,’ our interest in God is crowded to the margins of our lives and we become preoccupied with ourselves. ‘Religion’ during such times is trivialized into asking ‘God-questions’ — calling God into question or complaining about him, treating the worship of God as a mere hobby or diversion, managing our personal affairs for our own convenience and disregarding what God has to say about them, going about our usual activities as if God were not involved in such dailiness.” Whatever season of life you are experiencing, whether it’s the daily humdrum of school, the grind of the 9-to-5 or the excitement of a new home or job, I hope the stories and articles in this issue of Love Is Moving call our attention to how God is moving in our specific season, recognizing God is indeed at the core of “such dailiness.”
Publisher The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada - TheEFC.ca
ART DIRECTOR MARK STEWART
Contact (including submissions and subscriptions): firstname.lastname@example.org
SENIOR EDITOR CONOR SWEETMAN
EDITOR IN CHIEF & FOUNDER BENJAMIN PORTER
EDITOR IN CHIEF & FOUNDER JOEL GORDON
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THE QUAGMIRE OF CALLING Words by Sawyer Bullock In high school I filled out a career survey that indicated I should be a garbage collector or university administrator. This was while I was working on farms and performing at children’s birthday parties. Since then I have neither received further clarity nor comfort regarding occupational direction, and my problem has been exacerbated by being part of a generation that expects to discover their life’s purpose when they are 17. However, while I still don’t know what I want to do, I have a very clear picture of who I want to be. What follows is an attempt to help clarify “calling” while maintaining a robust view of God’s sovereignty and human freedom.
Let’s begin by distinguishing calling from occupation. Calling is a divine plan or purpose which God invites us to participate in, whereas occupation is what you do to pay the bills. While your occupation can be part of your calling, it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Right now, you may not know where the Lord is leading you, but you are in a place where you must choose whether or not you will start walking. “But I don’t know what God wants me to do! I’ve asked him, but he hasn’t answered.” Wrong. God always answers prayer, He just doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He’s going to. We can be wandering around looking for our answer when it is right in front of us. Let’s not make the mistake of looking for His hand the way we think it’s going to look. We’ll walk right by it again and again. What opportunities are in front of you right now? Where can you serve?
Right now, you may not know where the Lord is leading you, but you are in a place where you must choose whether or not you will start walking.
The call to follow Christ and participate in His redemptive work is at the root of every other calling. For example the Apostle Paul was called to be a missionary to the gentiles, but he made tents to cover his expenses. Same with us – our lives as Christians do include, but aren’t limited to, our occupations. However, we don’t want to make the mistake of trivializing where God has us this very day. You don’t know what God is preparing you for, and if you did, you probably would not start the journey. Paul had the equivalent of a PhD in Judaism and spent his early years preparing for a life in temple service. But God had other plans. Jesus steps in and knocks Paul (then Saul) off his donkey, onto his donkey – if you catch my drift.
As Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (ESV).
With questions like “Should I choose university X or Y?” we need to recognize that God also gives us freedom regarding non-moral issues. So, give it some thought, choose a school, then seek to honour God, your professors, your parents, and be a light to your peers.
“Who should I marry?” Well, see what conditions God has given in His word, then take your pick. The Lord knows what we will freely choose (via omniscience) and orients the world in such a way that we will accomplish His purposes – whether we like it or not. God will use us – better to be used as a John than as a Judas. Therefore, as believers, let’s respond with faithfulness and obedience to the opportunities placed in our path, fully trusting in God’s sovereignty and goodness.
Sawyer Bullock Toronto, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Identify an area of your life where you can take God-honouring action. Brendan Church
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God in All Things Words by Candace Maxymowich God is with us in our transitions. New beginnings are the best time to reflect on where we’ve come from and move into the future with a joyful hope. New beginnings don’t just happen at the beginning of a new year, they can be ushered in by a breakup, a move to a new city, a new job, a new child, or another life event. The stories in Scripture show time and time again that God offers people a new beginning, another chance for great things. God frees the oppressed, Jesus heals and restores, and the Holy Spirit imbues new life. When we’re in a new situation, at the beginning of a new year, or in a new state of mind, it’s natural to make resolutions. In those resolutions, it’s important to ask ourselves: Am I staying true to myself or trying to be someone different? When Jesus offers someone a new beginning, He’s calling them to be themselves – their best selves.
Perhaps you’re wondering which direction the Lord desires you to go, or perhaps you’re wrestling with a career decision and you’re not sure which path to take. If so, you’re not alone! This has been a recent experience of mine and a struggle many Christians have. Sometimes, new beginnings are chances to look at the things we’re holding onto. Saint Ignatius speaks of “disordered attachments,” things we’re attached to that are not helpful to growing closer to God and our true self. Are there any things I can get rid of at this point in my life, things unhelpful to my journey? What do I need to let go of? We desire to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. We want to do His will in all aspects of our lives – in the daily choices we make that govern our actions and in the large life decisions we have to make. Scripture gives us clear guidance regarding the moral choices we are to make as God’s sons and daughters, giving instruction as to how we are to live so we can be salt and light.
However, the Bible doesn’t give specific guidance about many types of life decisions, including making career choices. Scripture doesn’t specify whether you should become an accountant or an engineer. These decisions can seem overwhelming because of the sheer number of options available – more than at any other time in history. We long to make the “right” decision – the choice that proves to be good for us and the one God would desire us to make. But more transition decisions just keep on coming. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” From the moment we enter this world, life changes. As young children we don’t notice these changes like we do in our later years. As we age, seasons take on a more obvious role. The transition from high school to college, singleness to marriage, marriage to parenthood, one job to another – these all signify changes in lifestyle or even location. These transitions may be difficult. We may have to let go of people, places, and experiences we love, but God is calling us to a new level of maturity. He will walk with us into the calling He has on our lives. That’s an absolute guarantee. With all the changes, there is one thing that cannot change – God, and His great love for us.
Candace Maxymowich Winnipeg, MB Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Smile at everyone who passes you on the sidewalk, in the hall, in your home, in your office. Daniel Hjalmarsson
God offers people a new beginning, another chance for great things. LOVEISMOVING.CA | 5
The Call to the Mountains Words by Will Brown “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). There is something so profoundly beautiful about waking up each morning to the view of the Rocky Mountains outside your kitchen window. What’s even more profound is looking back and seeing the journey that the Lord has taken my wife, Jessica, and I on to reach our current destination: Didsbury, Alberta.
know He has
Ontario is home—namely, Toronto. Moving from one of the busiest cities in North America to a small town of less than five thousand people is a radical change of scenery. If you had told us four months ago that we’d be living in Didsbury of all places, we wouldn’t have believed you.
designed and gifted you
for a specific
Almost a year ago, four months into our marriage, we felt like the Lord was telling us something: “Put aside one year to serve me.” We weren’t sure what that looked like, or where that looked like, but we both heard the call very clearly.
There’s a reason why Paul refers to us, the unified church of believers, as the body of Christ. He chooses us, in the diversity of our gifting and function, to bring glory to His name – not our own. It was important to us that whatever way we were to serve, we wanted it to be something that He put into place for us. Walking by faith does not mean asking for permission, but guidance. In this journey of surrendering our own plans and our own thinking, the Lord revealed to us where we were to go: Ellel Ministries in Western Canada. Although the decision to come to Didsbury was not always clear or easy, we felt the Lord pushing our boundaries. The provision of the Lord is over those who respond to His call instead of their own. “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). 6 | LOVEISMOVING.CA
We feel something of eternal significance is wrapped up in Ellel Ministries and that God has brought us here for a divine purpose. He does not make mistakes. It is not by chance that we are living and serving in Alberta, in the same way that you and His call on your life is not by chance. This is a time for the empowering of God’s people – not to stand by idly, but to stand firmly in the authority of our saviour Jesus Christ. What is holding you back from giving Him everything? Comfort, security, and familiarity are tools the enemy can use to confuse you or blind you from what God is calling you to. Your calling may not involve a move across the country, but know He has designed and gifted you for a specific purpose. Consider the things you are clinging to, the things that are keeping you in a place of
complacency, the things that have created a barrier between you and the Father. Hear this: our God is a generous God. Not only will He provide what is required, but He will lavish gifts on you and bless you in ways you are not able to comprehend. Faith doesn’t move God, faith moves us. God is already moving. The question is when are you going to start moving?
Will Brown Didsbury, AB Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Ask the Lord where you are unwilling to submit your plans. Allow Him to stretch your boundaries as your steps are established. Will Brown
The Secret to Surviving Unemployment Words by Jamila Holder
I am currently unemployed after finishing a government contract. But my career coach put my situation more bluntly. “Do you know anyone that has been let go from a government job?” I thought, “No!” To which my career coach responded, “Jamila, you have.” Wow! I had been let go? Everything in me wanted to correct him: “Actually my contract ended, I was not fired!” The wound was not fully healed, even though it had been a few months since my last battle with depression over my employment status. Unemployment is like grief, it unfolds in phases – the “shock” phase, followed by the “what am I going to do” phase, and depending on how quickly you rebound, the “season of little” will set in. Unemployment has a way of branding you and making you feel unproductive.
I have personally never felt more unsure of who I am and where I am going in life. I had it all – a well-paying government job a few months after graduating, money I didn’t even know what to do with, saving up to buy a rental property to generate wealth, writing large cheques to my church. Suddenly it was all put on pause with one conversation with my supervisor.
life is a scientific formula of never ending transitions and if you get stuck in transition you will miss what God is doing. Besides, transition simply means a temporary place of becoming, whereby you change from one state or condition to another.
“Sorry, Jamila, we won’t be able to renew your contract.”
My response to such a statement will always be that I don’t believe that my Father takes pleasure in watching me suffer, nor is He trying to embarrass me, because that would mean He is being embarrassed too, because I believe He walks with me through my trial.
These days I often get asked, “Where do you work Jamila?” I respond something along the lines of “You know, I am in transition right now.” In other words, I don’t know what I am doing with my life right now and I would give anything to know. I have watched friends who graduated years after I did establish lucrative careers, I have questioned, “God why me? Why is unemployment my struggle?” As I sit here on the dawn of my birthday, I would love to say I know exactly what I am doing, but I can’t. If the last year has taught me anything, it would be that
Believe me when I say I have heard every cliché Christian explanation as to why I am having to walk through this difficult season. One of my personal favourites goes like this, “Jamila, maybe God is trying to humble you.” In layman’s terms, they mean, “You had it too good, so the Lord is teaching you a lesson.”
If you find yourself in the “attributing blame” phase of unemployment, just stop! Blame is like quicksand, the more you wrestle with it, the deeper you sink. Don’t panic, I promise God has not abandoned you. Allow me to prove it with Philippians 4:12-13, which makes a bold declaration we all know: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Wow, that’s radical faith! In prior verses, Paul describes how he knows what it is to have plenty and to be in want. Then he says I have learned the secret. To which I respond, “Paul! Tell me the secret!” The secret is this: In little or in much, God strengthens me to walk through seasons of plenty just as much as He does seasons of little, Selah!
“Jesus slows our trains, puts some tracks in front of us, and sees us for who we truly are: lost children.”
Actually my contract ended, I was not fired! Actually my contract ended, I was not fired! Actually my contract ended, I was not fired! Actually my contract ended, I was
Has it been difficult? Heck yes! But I have never been able to give a more genuine praise while laughing and crying. Do I know when this season will end? No, but every day I choose to be #unbothered because my Father has always been my source and provider. A job is only one channel among a million others He uses to showcase His faithfulness. It has been the greatest season of self-discovery, and slowly but surely I am watching God in awe as He births the entrepreneur in me. Perhaps you are not where I am, but I pray God carries you like He has carried me, until you can declare with your lips, “God I thank you, in spite of…!”
Jamila Holder North York, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? The next time you run into a homeless person by them some food and invite them to have a breakfast/lunch/dinner conversation with you. Niklas Hamann
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Surviving University as a Christian Overcoming the Scale
sky that God has hand-painted, why can’t we appreciate the beauty of our bodies that God breathed life into? Don’t think for one second that you are worthless, unloved, ugly, or not good enough. You are created with a purpose by a perfect, heavenly Father. The same Father who paints the colours of the sky handcrafted every hair on our heads – and every curve on our bodies. And it’s the same God who is alive in our hearts today. No number on the scale, or hours on the treadmill will take this perfect love away. God doesn’t look at the things people look at. Rather, He looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). People of this world will judge your body, and we will too. But it’s God who will judge your heart, and at the end of this life that is all that is going to matter. After all, beauty is fleeting. If you think about the people you care most about in your life – your role models, your parents, your friends – you don’t think about their 22-inch waist, or their perfect hair. You think about how amazing they are as a person and all that they have done in your life. Remember that. Every day we struggle with temptations from the enemy. God never said our lives on earth would be perfect. But He did promise to look after each one of His children. His ultimate desire is to see us set free from bondage.
wEveryone warns you of the freshman 15 like it’s some kind of monster that’s gonna get you in the middle of the night, or maybe just a sick joke used to scare freshman into holding back on the weekend beer and chips. The year I started university, I was often reminded of this dreaded freshman 15. My friends and I hated the thought of coming home at Christmas with an extra few pounds, but the way it was talked about made it seem almost inevitable. All around us, we see celebrities and Instagram famous people telling us that if we buy their app, do their workouts, make their recipes, and follow an insane diet plan that we will get skinny and “be our best self.” This may be true for some people, but for dedicated students, this expectation of finding time to work out, meal prep, and be our best self is not exactly manageable, let alone a priority Jesus wants us to have. I have had personal struggles for most of my life with body image. Throughout my high school years, I went through multiple seasons of weight gain and loss. I truly believed that the definition of beauty was based on the size of my thighs and the number on the scale. I remember eating in front of the mirror in my room with barely any clothes on. I thought that maybe
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looking at my ugly body while I ate would help myself to indulge less. I remember spending hours at the gym running on the treadmill while I calculated exactly how many calories I consumed that day. It’s a scary life when your reflection in the mirror is distorted by temptation from the enemy. This on-again-off-again relationship with food and weight loss consumed most of my high school years. At the very beginning of the Bible, God tells us the story of Adam and Eve. Two people who were created completely naked and free. This story is very interesting because it reveals the first time humankind felt body-image issues, and food happened to be the first temptation ever introduced to us. That delicious-looking piece of fruit was the beginning of our sin in this world (Genesis 3: 6-7). Eve shared it with Adam, and they both became ashamed of their bodies just as the enemy wanted.
As we lay down our cross every morning, I encourage you to strip away the desires of this world. Don’t be envious of the bodies of others, rather learn to appreciate the beautiful structure God has given you. From the beginning of time, the struggle of body image has been alive in this world. Take a minute out of your morning before you eat your breakfast, before you step on the scale, before you begin your run, and before you scroll through social media, and pray to God. Draw near to your heavenly Father and ask Him to protect your mind and heart from these cravings and comparisons. I would be lying if I said I never go a day without thinking about my appearance. There are seasons in my life where I struggle immensely – but it’s the amazing power of Christ that truly pulls me through these times. He is a good Father. He guides me through those dark seasons so I can walk confidently back to the woman He created me to be. Your perfect size will be the one you have when living out your life with Christ.
The enemy loves hearing those awful things we think and say about ourselves. After all, it was the first thing humans became mindful of in our sin. We admire the beauty of the sunset in breathless adoration; we take pictures of it and sit in awe at what God has created. If we can sit and admire the colours of the
Abigail Morgan Grand Bay Westfield, NB Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Post a picture of what healthy food is fuelling your day. Element 5 Digital
Seek First a 4.0 GPA His Kingdom? Words by Alyssa Esparaz The middle of the semester is a funny time on college and university campuses. It seems like students are bogged down by a never-ending load of assignments, exams, quizzes, presentations, and the ever-present pressure to perform. This is especially illustrated by the endless line for coffee and the multitude of students passed out in the library or vigorously typing on their laptops. I’ve been thinking lately: Post-secondary education doesn’t really prepare us to be well-rounded people, does it? I mean, we’re expected to move heaven and earth in order to get one 30% paper handed-in on time. I can’t think of any
other setting where it’s expected and normalized to be up working until 4 a.m. just to perform according to the standard. So, I’ve got this crazy, radical, world-shaking idea for us students: What if we just didn’t? I’ll give you a moment. Okay, so I’m not advocating that we neglect our studies. Obviously, the pursuit of our post-secondary degrees and diplomas is a beautiful, holy, important calling on our lives in this season, and God has placed us where we are to glorify him in all that we do.
that? A verse that I’ve clung to throughout my studies is Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” It might seem like a platitude on paper, but when I find myself drowning in that mid-semester pressure, that verse is one of the most important and radical truths in my life. The pure grace of it has gotten me through some of the toughest seasons of school, and enriched my life in ways that I never even imagined possible.
God has placed us where we are to glorify him in all that we do.
But that’s just it—in all that we do. We are so much more than students. We are artists, activists, athletes, musicians, leaders, lovers. We are comedians, pianists, writers, volunteers, speakers, programmers, photographers. Above all else, we are disciples of Jesus Christ. Does the way we live our lives—including the way we pursue our diplomas—reflect
What if instead of pursuing a 4.0 GPA, we decided as a generation of students to pursue the Kingdom of Christ instead? Yes, our degrees and diplomas might be part of that, and in some seasons, it might be a very big part of that. But the point is that we don’t have to be stressed out of our minds as students. Perhaps we could instead be entirely fulfilled in our pursuit of His Kingdom—as students or otherwise.
Alyssa Esparaz Pickering, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Take a picture of yourself reading LIM on your college/university campus and post it on social media” Greeb Chameleon
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Growing Up, Gaining Followers & Glorifying God
Here at Love Is Moving, the new year is ushering in a lot of transitions for the magazine and website. In fact, many individuals who work closely with LIM are experiencing personal transitions—whether it be Isaac and Amelia Godwin (featured on the very first print issue) who will soon be the proud parents of a baby girl; Dagmar Morgan (a core contributing writer) who has recently gotten married; or the multitude of our writers who are entering new schools, cities, or workplaces. At LIM we’re honoured to “transition in” a friend of ours, Katie Gregoire, who you’ll be seeing on the new Love Is Moving app! Here’s an introductory chat with her about growing up, her upcoming marriage, gaining Youtube followers and giving glory to God.
Hey Katie, how’ve you been? I’ve been really great today—gotten a lot accomplished. My roommate and I picked up my wedding dress this afternoon, and now we’re watching terrible Hallmark Christmas movies!
Sounds like a productive day. As you prepare for your wedding, what life stage do you feel like you’re in right now? University student? Young adult? Grown adult? 10 | LOVEISMOVING.CA
“I let myself be happy and enjoy... [my engagement] , but without creating a false reality that could actually trap me.”
I feel like I’ve been an adult for a while— even when I was in university, I was working the job I knew I’d be doing into the future, so I never really had that starving-studenttrying-to-find-a-job kind of time. I feel like I skipped the student stage in a way. I’m a young adult making my life now, I don’t feel like I’m in limbo. From the time I was three years old, I was putting a third of my allowance in the University Jar. It helped because, in a way, we were being prepared our whole lives to be independent, without our parents setting crazy expectations on us or anything. But there was an expectation that we were working towards something more, and an understanding that highschool was temporary. So, when I made the transition to university, my parents had raised me with intentionality so that it wasn’t a complete 180-degree shift.
What led you into the world of running a successful Youtube channel? Any good thing comes from stupid motivations right? I started my channel when I was 16 to get the attention of a boy I was friends with haha. Within four months it actually did work! But at that point I’d built a mini-channel and God was already doing some cool stuff, so I realized it could be something I actually pursue for God’s glory rather than selfish motivations. The motivations of my heart switched at around 17 years old and God began opening doors and showing me that I had a voice and I could actually use it for good. My grandma always said to me growing up “To whom much has been given, much is expected,” so I knew I wanted to use this platform and offer it to God. I always wanted to do ministry, but not necessarily in a normal church setting, so God gave me a cool way to do ministry that allows me to flourish in my skill set.
How do you connect with young people in a stage that you may have never actually been immersed in? As much as I knew what I wanted to do originally, I did it the wrong way, so I had just as much of a learning and growing experience. We have this idea that we have to go to university to find ourselves. But that’s one expensive way to find ourselves! We tend to think that since we’re only 18 and we have so much time, we can just kind of glide through the years of university with little care or thought. But I’ve realized that every year of our lives is so important. You have value, even if its not in academia! It is a terrifying time of transition into adulthood, and there’s a lot of growing pains, but we can’t compare our successes and failures to our friends—we have specific purposes that can be discouraged by such an intense time of transition. There’s so much discouragement around getting into schools, scholarships, jobs. If you didn’t get into the school, that’s not where God wants you; He will prepare you for what He’s called you to.
Awesome encouragement, thank you. So how are you preparing for this next transition of your life into marriage?
without creating a false reality that could actually trap me.
How do you anticipate continuing your ministry as you move into your new life context? We always have career dreams and goals, and that’s where I’m at. I still intend on doing videos every single week for Youtube, and that will always be my base. But this past week I got to speak at the Christian Entrepreneurial Conference in Toronto, it was awesome! Getting to meet Lorna Dueck from Crossroads, getting to speak about my business—I love public speaking. I’ve come to realize I want to move my career into a public speaking setting. I want to be face-to-face, relating on a tangible level. Hopefully one day I’ll be going on tours speaking at churches and ministries. I never want to get ahead of myself, but I’m excited. I think being married will actually be very good for my job, because I’ll have all the experience already behind me, but moving forward I’ll be able to relate to a whole new audience and be able to help people learn from my mistakes, hopefully being a kind of big-sister figure for younger girls in their walk with God.
With much excitement! But I’ve come to realize—as pessimistic as this may sound— I’ve realized that I’m stupid and make bad decisions sometimes, and so does David! So when we’re married, it’s not like everything will magically turn into a fairytale, but because we have Christ, I know that life will be amazing together through His work in us and the work He’ll do through us. I’m trying to keep everything in perspective, because we tend to get caught up in this over-romanticization of marriage, but I’m just trying to stay grounded and excited. I let myself be happy and enjoy it, but
Conor Sweetman Markham, ON
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A New Year and a New Life
five of us, and the fifth is a very physical reminder of the fact that my parents are no longer together and that my family doesn’t look the way it used to and never will again. Two months premature, two months old when I’ll hold him for the first time – here and whole and breathing, even though his mother has a history of miscarriages. A new year and a new life. When my dad messaged me the morning Bertie was born, I wept – wept in relief and joy, wept in grief and pain.
years ago, a baby called Immanuel, God with us, and Jesus, he will save. A juxtaposition of a baby – fully God and yet fully man, the word made flesh, the breath-giver given breath.
Robert. Three pounds, ten ounces, just over two months early on the morning he decided to make his grand entrance into the world. Robert means famed, shining, bright – a bright spot on a gray day, sudden sunlight spilling through clouds. Robert has a few different nicknames, but I don’t like Rob, Robby, Bob, or Bobby, so I settled on Bertie.
I hold juxtapositions in my hands – relief and grief, joy and pain, triumph and trial, hope and suffering, one half of each pair in each hand. I am so much closer to fully forgiving my father and am in the process of rebuilding that relationship, and yet I still hurt so deeply it surprises me, catches me off guard. Bertie is alive and I am so grateful to the Lord for answering that prayer, but a baby is permanent in a way that perhaps marriage isn’t, and now it feels like my family will be forever fractured.
But it’s the New Year, and with the New Year comes new beginnings and fresh starts. I’m not saying I’ll accept the suffering and trial gladly, because I know I won’t, but I can accept it with a deep breath and remind myself again what Jesus’ names mean: God with us, and he will save.
Words by Carly Ververs
Bertie. No longer just the baby, but my brother – possessive my, specific brother. Bertie is my half-brother, and there’s a whopping twenty-two years between us. I haven’t met him yet, but I think about him every day, pray for him every day. I imagine holding him for the first time – tiny body folded into my arms, head carefully supported, hand wrapped around my finger, eyes half-closed and eyelashes stirred by my breath. I never thought I would have a little brother. I’ve been three out of four children for as long as I can remember, and now there’s
I hold these juxtapositions in my hands, competing ideas, contrasting ideas, and remind myself to breathe. Remind myself of a different woman holding a different baby two thousand
Jesus promises hope and suffering, triumph and trial; they are not mutually exclusive, as much as I might wish they were. I gladly take the hope and triumph Jesus offers me, but I try to refuse when he holds out his hands and offers me suffering and trial as well.
So, at the beginning of this new year, I will kiss my brother on the forehead with my lips and with my tears, and I will breathe the breath of new life I’ve been given as he breathes his, and I will walk boldly into the new year.
juxtaposition in my hands – relief and grief”
Carly Ververs Wasaga Beach, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Pray that you will come to the Lord with open hands this year - to accept whatever He gives. Ryan Wong
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The Divinely Beautiful Purpose of Singlehood Words By Sarah Evangeline The divinely beautiful purpose of singlehood can be summarized into one amazing task: Honour God first. When we honour God first, we find out that His love is the greatest. God is the only one who can fill our cup, everything else is an overflow of that grace; our future spouse is an overflow of that grace. The moment we start to think that singlehood is non-fulfilling, empty, or lonely, we start limiting the possibilities of what God wants to do through us while we are still single. God wants you to be content where you are, today, as a single person. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul makes note of this high calling of singlehood. Paul wants us to know that while we are single, we have the unique opportunity to maximize a heavenly perspective on earth. How amazing is that? You have time to maximize your
gifts, skills, commitments and talents for the glory of God.
Let your faith in Christ be louder than your loneliness or doubt.
What if I were to tell you, you could start working on your marriage today by praying for your future spouse? Just think about it – he or she is going through temptation, hardships, and trials, just like you. How amazing it would be if we started to pray for our spouses, even before we meet them. The waiting and loneliness becomes less burdensome when we learn to surrender it to the God who holds the whole universe in His hands.
Let your prayers give you hope for what is yet to come.
We all want things to happen now, instead of waiting and valuing the gift of patience. Our world is selfish and greedy, leaving us to think we deserve to get whatever we want in this moment. By honouring God first, we learn to wait the way God designed us to wait, and we start to see the beauty in God’s patterns. We develop true patience, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit. We also allow God to continue to mould and shape us into the person He created us to be; we will understand endurance through difficult situations.
You don’t have to go searching for “the one” every time you leave your house. Seriously, your commitment is to Christ. Alone.
By honouring God first, we can keep our eyes focused on Him rather than eyeing every person that passes us by. You don’t have to go searching for “the one” every time you leave your house. Seriously, your commitment is to Christ. Alone. There is a huge lie that we often believe: If we live a godly life, God will reward us with a godly partner. While, yes, I believe we need to live a godly life, we need to remember to do it only for the glory of God, not to get a reward. He simply wants you to be you. You matter more to Him right now, today, and getting a significant other is never going to change that. We often hear the line “I deserve more than that relationship I was just in” or “Don’t settle for less than you deserve.” While, yes, there is truth in those statements, we have to remind ourselves of something critical: We don’t deserve anything. We are not entitled to anything. We were never meant to change someone else to fit into our liking. God gives marriage to us as a gift. I hope you will find the beauty and hidden treasure in honouring God first. You will stop thinking about what you deserve and start asking, “What can I give to God?”
Let your commitment to Christ be higher than your commitment to what’s considered normal in our culture.
you are more precious than gold
You Are More Precious Than Gold: Inspiring Young Women to Embrace Their Inner Beauty is available on Amazon, Indigo and at Christian bookstores. Here’s a short intro to the book. As women, we’re often told to live for God and follow Him, but how can we be expected to do this if we don’t have the proper tools and teaching? If young women don’t know how to properly live for God, they’ll start to follow the world’s definition of success and beauty, which is a long road to destruction. True beauty is all about what God has already planted inside us. God wants to be our beauty mark and rooted into every aspect of our being. Embracing our inner beauty in Christ happens deep in our soul and allows us to be radiant from the inside out. It affects all areas of one’s life, and it proves we are more precious than gold. Will you join Sarah Evangeline on this journey? Will you make God your beauty mark?
Sarah Evangeline Chatham, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Each day let’s make it our goal to seek to live for Christ with both our hearts and mind. This is the secret ingredient to an abundant life, which is the best adventure. Killan Pham
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The Acacia Movement Taking Delight in the Plans of the Lord
Words by Julia Bracewell When I was a little girl my dad wrote a poem about me in his journal: “Julia is like a flower in my heart; I smell the fragrance of joy, the yellow shades of happiness, and her smooth touch on my cheek. Truly she is aglow with His Spirit.” Tragically this was the last entry in his journal. A few weeks later he passed away from a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Of course this was the lowest point for my family. However nearly 16 years later I can say I have watched God create beauty from our tragedy. As a young teen I learned about the acacia tree, which amazingly can grow in the desert during a drought. While the tree grows it actually adds nutrients back into the soil, allowing new life to spring up around it. The tree is a source of life. Its leaves can be used for medicine, the fodder provides food for the animals and the bark is virtually unbreakable. You can’t stop the acacia tree.
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When I learned about the tree I prayed, “Lord, make me an acacia tree.” A few years later I learned many species of acacia blossom with vibrant and beautiful yellow flowers. I remembered the words my dad wrote about me, “Julia is like a flower in my heart . . . yellow shades of happiness.” God spoke to me that day and told me He wanted me to be like an acacia, just like my dad believed. Psalm 137 says to “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God was working this out in me. And He wasn’t rushing, He was doing His gentle and good work. Last winter I had the opportunity to live in Lilongwe, Malawi and work for a local development agency as their women’s empowerment groups correspondent. I was responsible to provide training and support to four groups of women who’d recently started their own small businesses. I got to witness and participate in a process where women turn the economic situation of their families right around through their
Malawi’s issues may be deep and wide, but when we looked around we felt so full of hope because Malawian women are unstoppable forces to be reckoned with.
entrepreneurial efforts. These endeavours allow their children to go school for the first time, live in a house with clean water and electricity, and give women a voice in household and community decisions where they did not have one before. I had never been more fulfilled in my life! Of course I met many challenges. It’s not easy to empower people who have been underestimated their entire lives. A pivotal moment in my understanding of what life is like for women in the Third World came when I proposed a very simple solution to an issue one of the groups was having. “You don’t understand,” they said, “we are only women, only poor women.” And they were right, I didn’t understand. Over the course of my time at CCODE my eyes were opened, my thinking was challenged, and my heart was stretched. In Malawi I saw what life is like for most females in the world. I met women who’d become widowed and were shunned by their communities, had all their belongings stolen, who couldn’t find work and had to give up their children. I worked in entire settlements full of illiterate women, while their male counterparts could read, write, and therefore find work. I heard stories of women dying of preventable illnesses because their families just couldn’t imagine why it would be important to spend hard-earned cash on healthcare to save a woman’s life. My dear friend took me on an eight-hour walk through his village—a place where girls are kept out of school and married in their early teens, and then expected to raise children immediately. Many of these girls die from birthing complications—their bodies aren’t developed enough to facilitate childbirth. In February 2016 (the day after Trump’s inauguration) my friend and I logged onto social media and saw the dozens of photos
and posts regarding the Women’s March. It was hard not to have mixed feelings about the Women’s March while living in Malawi—a place where women are facing much deeper issues of oppression and inequality. We wondered together, “What would it be like if men and women in developing countries marched for their sisters in the Third World?” That day we decided that when we returned home we would begin teaching others about the challenges women overseas are facing. We would also offer suggestions about how they could get involved. We decided to call our project the Acacia Movement. It fit well, because everywhere we looked around Malawi we saw women who were creating life and hope in seemingly hopeless places. In every village, community, or city neighbourhood we visited we saw women banding together to support, encourage, and empower one another. Malawi’s issues may be deep and wide, but when we looked around we felt so full of hope because Malawian women are unstoppable forces to be reckoned with. We’d been having this conversation underneath a tree in our front yard, and the next morning we asked our neighbour what kind of tree it was. Our hearts nearly burst when we realized we’d made our plans under none other than an acacia tree. Over the next few weeks as the weather changed, thousands and thousands of trees in Malawi began to blossom with beautiful yellow acacia flowers. There was no mistaking it, God’s fingerprints were all over our dreams. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Give your dreams to God and watch Him refine them, beautify them, join them with His own and make them come to life.
If you are interested in learning more about the Acacia Movement or would like to book them for a workshop at your school, organization or event, visit acaciamovement.com.
Julia Bracewell Windsor, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Take some time to ask the Holy Spirit what dreams and passions He has placed in your heart that He’d like you to pay attention to. Journal His response, and then decide what you can do in this season to begin bringing these dreams to life. Niko Soikkeli
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Living With Parental Divorce Words by Shawn LaVie
I’d like to share my experience in the hope the Lord will work through me to give hope, and to help Christian youth who may be in a similar situation as myself. As my title suggests, I’m not ashamed of the reality that my parents divorced when I was 24, and I’m still not ashamed at the age of 36. When my parents divorced, all the happy memories that led up to that moment felt fractured and broken. I could no longer look at those memories without feeling pain. It almost felt as if the well had been poisoned. I had to slowly learn how not to identify those memories with the divorce, and learn that my identity and all my memories belong to Christ. I did not divorce my parents, but for a time I lived my life as if I was part of the divorce. If you are feeling similar feelings, remember your healing process will be found through Christ alone. It also helped me to discover the unbreakable bond in marriage between myself and Jesus Christ. It is through this bond that I am able to find comfort and peace within the painful experience of living through parental divorce. I’m also able to use the experience to strengthen my own marriage, and I am actually grateful for that. If you are in a similar situation, I know that it may be hard to believe anything positive can come from your pain, but I implore you to stay strong and know that you are not alone. As a Christian, you are bound in love and married to the Creator of the universe.
I implore you to stay strong and know that
Shawn LaVie Charlottetown, PEI Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Tell family members that you love them, and how much you appreciate them, no matter how random the moment may be. Ian Espinosa
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you are not alone.
BEING A CHRISTIAN IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY with the skills to pursue those passions. He put me on this path and gave me these gifts — but sometimes, I lose perspective. So to answer my professor’s question, yes, I am in an industry that is based around these very earthly things. However, that does not mean I’m going to accept these standards for myself. I know there is more to me than what can be merely seen with the eyes. I am valued for my mind and my soul, and I can confidently say through this journey I have become more passionate about the person I am on the inside, which in fact makes me “I am in an industry that is based beautiful on the outside as Maybe I can change around these very earthly things. well. others’ perspectives as well.
“Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” – 1 Timothy 2:8-10 (MSG) This phrase, “Doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it,” has not only been a monumental verse in my life but has also made me question my motives and viewpoints on my work in the fashion industry.
However, that does not mean I’m going to accept these standards for myself.” thought to myself sitting in an old hockey arena reading my acceptance letter off my phone. I was going to do great things – me, myself and I. I was so attuned to my own aspirations I was blind to see God’s greater plan. Moving to Toronto was probably one of the most exciting things I have ever done. Being considered a city-slicker in the downtown core of the 6 (cringe) made me feel like a million bucks.
Since Grade 5 I have aspired to do something where I could express myself creatively. I like how clothes can be used to tell a story, act as a means of communication, and even be used for art.
It was not until I was questioned by a professor about the verse above that I started having to ask some tough questions of myself. Why was I in an industry that was built on primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions? To be honest I fell flat on my face; I didn’t have a solid answer.
Getting accepted into Ryerson University’s fashion communication program was probably one of my most affirming moments. “This is what I’m meant to do” I
I began to question my motives a lot that year, leading me eventually to the following conclusion: Design, fashion and art are my God given passions. He has equipped me
For my fourth-year thesis I focused on the self-identity and body image in young girls and women. Researching all the statistics and negative impacts that the fashion and beauty industry has on women today broke my heart. I ended up creating a publication full of untouched portraits of women, along with their stories of self-identity. No this book isn’t faith based (many women in my book come from different faith backgrounds), but it is a book that speaks truth and has given me the opportunity to speak at conferences, schools, and churches about my research. I am fully confident that this is where God wants me to be right now and am excited to see where He leads me next.
Cassy Roberts Toronto, ON Alexandra Gorn
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Girl365 Testimonial Girl365 is a ministry run by girls, for girls, based in Vancouver but reaching out across Canada and beyond. We provide free resources with God’s Word at the core, and offer a place to ask questions and find answers, knowing that you’re never alone. Because we’ve been there. We know that being a girl in this world is tough. But we also know the truth and hope that can overcome anything, and the love that never ceases to create miracles along its path. We hold fast to God’s promises for your best life, and that your heart is worth fighting for. We are a movement with a message – that you are loved. We’d love for you to join in! Find us at Girl365.org, on Facebook and Instagram @wearegirl365 or send us a message at email@example.com
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How do our Girl365 devotionals help? Here’s what one young woman who uses them recently told us. It can be especially tough to be a young woman in today’s society. Seeking acceptance or a place of belonging, searching for value or meaning of love and life is challenging, especially when there are pressures, expectations and images of what beauty should be. We are made to feel like we have to look or be a certain way in order to fit in or belong, and do certain things in order to feel some sort of adoration or simply just be appreciated. Expectations of becoming something or someone great is held high for a girl, high enough to make one’s worth questionable or inadequate. I remember I had a rough week where every day I felt flawed. I woke up that Friday morning and cried because everything had fallen apart for me. I didn’t feel beautiful enough or smart enough, I didn’t feel important enough to be liked or valued enough to be loved—it was like all my purpose was lost. With a discouraged heart, I knew I had to continue some work, so I checked my email.
There I found that day’s devotional from Girl365 and instantly I felt a blanket of comfort. Though I did not write it myself, every verse inspired me and lifted my spirits. It reminded me of God’s unfailing love and that there is no requirement or standard I need to live up to in order to receive His grace. Hope refueled my heart as I was reminded that God’s plan, purpose, and wisdom are far beyond my own, and that I just need to trust in Him. That morning, a huge rush of gratefulness and joy hit my heart as I was reminded of God’s promises. It has helped me to be bold in trusting God and seeking him instead of the approval of the world.”
WHO, JESUS? Words by Josiah Piett I remember the first time I read one of the Gospels when I was in highschool. Although I can’t remember which Gospel it was, I can tell you the two main thoughts I had after reading about Jesus’ life. The first thought that came to my mind was: If this is Jesus’ story, then why do the Christians I know — including myself — not look anything like Jesus? Jesus seemed to me to be a man who healed people and taught them about love and treating people properly. When I looked at myself and other Christians, it seemed to me Christianity was quite a different thing than this. Christianity seemed to be about going to church on Sunday, youth group on Wednesday nights, and maybe even going to couple conferences and events.
When it came to being in highschool, there seemed to be a gap between my faith, my church, my youth group, my friends and my school. Somewhere in that gap came this story about Jesus who desired to be in all of the areas of my life — not just some of them. The second thought I remember having was: Why did Jesus get killed? I had been taught my whole life that Jesus died for my sins, but what I didn’t understand is why anyone would want to kill Jesus. In my mind, Jesus was a man who taught about love and forgiveness. Why would anyone want to kill a man that teaches and lives that way? I can understand that some may not agree with Jesus’ statement “I am the way the truth and the life,” seeing as it is an exclusive claim. But still, why would anyone have a problem with a good moral teacher? There had to be something more to him than that. These two thoughts have stuck with me throughout my time studying the Bible and psychology at university, and although I may still struggle with the first question, I believe a person’s answer to the second question may bring insight into why the first question might even exist. If we do not have a clear understanding of who Jesus is, how will we ever live a life that reflects Him? You see, Jesus must have been more than merely a moral teacher to cause people to want to murder Him. Therefore, living a life following Jesus must be something more than just living by a good moral code. The clearer we see Jesus, the greater we will be able to follow Him and therefore reflect Him to others. Now there are many different ways of getting to know Jesus. We can know Him through prayer (communicating with Him), through community (being with others who trying to get to know Him), through music, arts, nature, etc. Though I don’t dismiss all of these ways of getting to know Jesus, there is only one sure way of knowing Him – and that is through reading His story in the Gospels. Anyone’s experience or opinion of Jesus that is contrary to what is said in the Gospels is simply not true. No matter how genuine or how convicted the person may be, there is no contradiction between who Jesus was in the Gospel and who He is today. Therefore, if we truly desire to know Jesus, we must start first with Scripture — specifically the New Testament Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke/Acts, John). The reason many Christians in our generation have such a problem with living like Jesus is not because they do not desire to, but because they do not have the tools to understand how to read the Scriptures properly. I also believe there are many
people who would actually desire to follow Jesus, but they have never heard of Jesus, or they are misinformed on who He is. Jesus calls us to follow Him and proclaim the gospel to everyone. It’s not our job to say who is worthy to hear the truth or not. Your perspective of Jesus will affect your projection of Jesus, which can have both positive and negative outcomes for those who do not yet know Jesus: Right perspective (on Jesus) = True projection True projection (Live like) = Pure reflection Pure reflection (Look like) = Genuine acceptance (Others accept Jesus) False perspective (on Jesus) = Wrong projection Wrong projection (Life like) = Distorted reflection Distorted reflection (Look like) = False rejection (Others falsely reject Jesus) Let me leave you with this challenge. Who was Jesus of Nazareth? If you don’t have a clear answer to this, may I suggest you start by trying to answer the questions of why Jesus was killed and why He chose to die? These two questions are similar but not the same. History alone can answer why Jesus may have been killed, but history cannot explain why Jesus chose to die. I believe your answer to these two questions could be the reason why your life may or may not reflect anything like the One you desire to follow. Maybe you have the same questions I had when reading the Gospel. If so, I actually am in the process of publishing a book called Beautifully Simple that explores the question of who Jesus was and the encounter I had with Him through discovering why He chose to die. If you are interested in getting more information about this topic or this book, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Josiah Piett St. Catharines, ON Jon Tyson
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courage because of the promises God has presented to us through His Word. Consider Joshua 1:6 “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them” (ESV). Ask yourself: What promises of God can we hold on to when we are going through a time of transition? 3. Studying God’s Word guides us.
How to Grow in Times of Transition Words by Andrew Glidden I recently had the opportunity to try out a Virtual Reality headset. What made the experience even cooler was that I took on the role of Batman, the Dark Knight himself. As I descended into my Bat-Cave, I remember feeling so engrossed in my new reality, I was convinced one step forward would send me plummeting to my not-so-cool-superherodeath. Living in a new reality can sometimes be fun, but sometimes our transition into a new reality can be challenging and scary. In The Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee finds himself about to take the first step outside his beloved Shire. Bilbo’s words of wisdom come to mind, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to” (J.R.R. Tolkien). Like Samwise, we have moments in our lives where we realize we’re not in “the Shire” anymore. Our new reality can be something that we choose, such as going to university. You pick the school you attend, pick your classes, go to orientation, and though there are still many variables, this is a new reality that you have chosen for yourself. But what about the times your new reality chooses you? It could come out of nowhere, like a dodgeball to the face that you don’t see coming until the last second. How do you transition into a phase of life that you did not see coming? You can try to dip, dive, duck, and dodge all you want, but your world, as it was, changes forever. What do you do when there is a death in the family, or your best friend moves away, or your boyfriend breaks up with you unexpectedly? Or when the university you were banking on is no longer an option, or the scholarship you were relying on doesn’t come through? The truth is, we can’t stop these new realities from happening. The real question
is: What will we choose in the midst of the shift? Will we be overcome, or will we choose to overcome? In the Old Testament a man named Joshua found himself entering a new and unexpected reality. After wandering if the wilderness for 40 years, he succeeds Moses as leader of all the people. Not only that, but it was now time for Joshua to lead them into the land God had promised them so many years previously. While Joshua may have felt blindsided by his new reality, God doesn’t just leave him there.
About two months ago I was thinking how nice it would be if I could lose about 20 pounds—I’m what my mom used to call “husky.” So for about two months, every night before going to bed, I would wish in my mind that I was 20 pounds lighter. The craziest thing happened. One day I just woke up and I had lost 20 pounds! I didn’t have to eat differently, exercise, and really I didn’t have to work for it at all! It just happened! False. Of course I didn’t lose 20 pounds by just wishing for it. How often do we want the benefits of being a Christ follower without doing all the work? If we are going through a season of change and transition, we can’t just expect it be a smooth ride if we aren’t putting any work into knowing God and His word. God says to Joshua that he needs to meditate on it day and night. It is only when Joshua does the work of knowing God’s word that he will be successful in his new reality.
There are three things we can learn from Consider Joshua 1:8 “This Joshua’s story about Book of the Law shall not overcoming our new “...we can’t stop these new depart from your mouth, realities. realities from happening. The but you shall meditate 1. Where you go, on it day and night, so real question is: What will we God is there. choose in the midst of the shift?” that you may be careful When we transition to to do according to all that something new, it is is written in it. For then very easy to feel alone. When we arrive on you will make your way prosperous, and a new campus, and our parents drive away, then you will have good success” (ESV). Ask leaving us alone in our new reality, we can yourself: Why is it so hard us to study and be confident that God is with us. meditate on God’s word? What are some ways we can fix these problems? Consider Joshua 1:9 “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (ESV). Ask yourself: Have you ever had a time where you felt alone, but afterward saw how God was present? 2. Finding God’s promises gives us confidence. If you knew something was a guarantee in life, would that not give you confidence in what you are doing? If you knew that you were going to score four goals in your next hockey game and be the MVP, you would have substantial confidence going into the game. Joshua was able to be strong and courageous not because of anything he did or was going to do, but because of the promise God was wanting to fulfil. When we transition into new things, we can be strong and have
Change is hard. Transitions are hard. Being thrown into a new reality is hard. However, when we recognize that God is with us, we rest in His promises. When we study His Word, our new realities become more manageable. If we do these things it doesn’t mean everything will be sunshine and rainbows. What this does mean is God will use this time of transition to transition us more into the likeness of His son Jesus Christ. And that is the ultimate reality we should all be aiming for.
Andrew Glidden St. John, NB Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? At the end of the week make a list of the ways you saw God at work in your new reality. If you can’t think of any, pray that God would reveal this to you in the coming weeks. Prottoy Hassan
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The Qualification of Leadership Words by Isaiah Simms
I have been in full-time ministry for almost three months, serving as the youth pastor at a fairly traditional Pentecostal church in a fishing town in Newfoundland. If you are now about to google where that is, stop! It is the easternmost province in Canada, a small island with a population of about 530,000. Yes, that is the actual population of this province. Pastoring in a small church in a small province, holding weekly Sunday night services, means I get to preach fairly often. Since I had only preached a few times prior to taking this position, this has been a challenge. I have begun preaching a series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. A short, four-chapter letter that proclaims Jesus plus nothing equals everything. We all know that salvation cannot be earned or acquired on our own. However, deep down we still feel we have to work hard, live up to an expectation and not mess up in order to be saved. We love the “by grace alone” message when it comes to receiving salvation, but we struggle to live out our faith in grace alone. We still feel like we need to do certain things to qualify for our salvation or to ensure we hold on to our salvation. I think this is a message that Christians need to hear over and over – and Christian leaders especially. We need to ask ourselves: How am I doing as a leader in trying to walk with Jesus by grace alone?
Leaders are needed more than ever. If I have learned one thing through these short months, it is that students are desperate for people to walk with. When leaders pour into relationships, life transformation begins.
needed in order to be followers of Jesus has already happened. As followers of Christ, we need to understand this more than ever, and as leaders, we need to proclaim this truth relentlessly. In a culture where perfectionism is both normal and exhausting – even in the lives of students – we do not need to perfect our lives in order to follow Christ. We need to rely and understand grace. We qualify to be leaders and followers of Christ because of what Christ has done, not because of anything we can do.
This is what I am aiming for my youth ministry to be built on. Relationships open the door for me to share this transforming truth. God qualifies us to be active participants in His kingdom. We cannot work hard But that can’t be how we measure the enough to earn our spot in this kingdom, success of our and we cannot ministry or our work hard “We cannot work hard enough to earn spiritual health. enough to keep our spot in this kingdom, and we cannot our spot either. Consider work hard enough to keep our spot Grace saves us, Colossians 1:12, either. Grace saves us, grace keeps us.” grace keeps us. “And giving joyful thanks to A recently the Father, who released song, has qualified you to share in the inheritance “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury, often of his holy people in the kingdom of light” comes to mind lately when I reflect on grace. (NIV). This verse comes in a section where The chorus says, “Oh, the overwhelming, Paul is giving thanks and sharing with the never-ending reckless love of God. Oh, it Colossians what his prayer is for them, chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves reflecting the concept of grace and showing the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it, and I that God has qualified us to be a part of his don’t deserve it, still, you give yourself Kingdom. away.” Paul also shares that God has delivered I hope this encourages you today. I am and transferred Jesus-followers from beginning to think it will take a lifetime the Kingdom of darkness into the new to fathom grace – will you join me in Kingdom, the Kingdom of Jesus, embodied this journey? Your soul, friends, family, by light. students, and church deserve it. We not only qualify, we are qualified. How do we qualify or measure up? How are we transferred from the “bad” kingdom to the “good” kingdom? Paul tells the Colossians they are transferred once they Isaiah Simms qualify. And the good news, friends, is Deer Lake, NL that we all qualify. This qualification is a Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Find time daily to ask God completed action on God’s part. It is made to embrace you with His grace. Let grace be the greatest possible through the cross. All we ever motivator in your life. Rawpixel Com
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The Atom Game Youth Group Tip by Pete Nojd
This is definitely one of my all-time favourite games and it can easily become a staple of your youth nights! The Atom Game is a great, no-prep, no-cost game that has a lot of upside – the only caveat being that you will need a critical mass to make it work (I suggest at least 12 people).
Tell the youth that they are to mingle about randomly in the enclosed area. As they mingle, you will yell out a number, at which point they will rush to get into groups of that number, huddling with one another like atoms. Whoever does not get into a group of that exact number is out of the game. You simply repeat this process until you are down to two people, who are co-winners. (As an option, you can have someone play loud music while they mingle and then turn it down when you yell out the numbers.) It helps if you explain to the youth that this is a fast-paced game, but they will quickly catch on.
Not only do we belong together, but it is in the community and uniqueness of the saints that radiate the beauty of God! You will be able to point out from the Atom Game how people have different roles. For example, some kids will be really keen to draw people in to their sphere of influence. However you choose to utilize this game, it will become a favourite among your young people!
Gather everyone together in your meeting space or gym. Stand on a chair and announce that you will be playing the Atom Game with the following instructions:
You can also tie this game into a lesson on unity and togetherness among the body of believers. Personally I like to use Romans 12:4-5 as a point of reference: “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
I usually prefer to play this game as an ice-breaker because of its tempo and also because it literally brings people together. This is a game where the old adage “the more the merrier” definitely applies! Enjoy!
Pete Nojd Brampton, ON Nasa
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Starting Right in A New Ministry/Job Words by Renée Embree
It is that time of year when a lot of my coffee meetings and Skype chats contain a similar question from folks asking, “How do I start right?” It comes particularly from those starting in a new ministry role. The first six months at a new ministry or job can set the tone for years. The first six months can be overwhelming as we try to figure it all out, including why God even has us here?! The first six months can be exhilarating, but we can end up pulled in many different directions, which may or may not be the right directions. The first six months is such a key time in a ministry/job where you start to understand current reality, where God is stirring, and why you might have been added to the mix. So how do we start right? As ministry colleagues and I have discussed how to make the most of the first six months (or year), here are the themes we keep coming back to:
Focus on getting to know people and letting yourself be known. Especially build relationships with your team (whether that is a staff team, volunteer team, or deacons’ board) and key volunteers. Get to know the people in your ministry and neighbourhood – get to know names, stories, and where people are at.
Figure out the communication method/ style preferred by your board, volunteers, boss, and team. Do they prefer lots of little emails, monthly verbal updates, a call with a highlight from the week, being taken out for coffee, a pop into their office, a quick text, or what? Make sure to over-communicate in your first six months. Let them be the ones to say, “You don’t have to update us so much!”
2. Encouragement Be a thanking machine to volunteers. Often volunteers carry a lot of extra responsibility in an interim time between pastors/leaders and need to hear that their effort was appreciated and hear some of the stories of how their service made a lasting impact. They need to know their continued contribution of time, energy, money, talents, and ideas is appreciated and worth it.
3. Figure out what to celebrate Figure out what is really celebrated in your context, especially by the senior pastor, leadership team or deacons. Talk their language of celebration and have conversations about how your ministry area can lead to more stories of celebration. (Now, if in your assessment it seems like leaders are celebrating some of the wrong kind of things, ask lots of questions [see #6] about why that is celebrated and what it might mean to celebrate some other kinds of things.)
5. Set a goal for year one Make the main goal clear for yourself and the other leaders around you in your first year. Where do you have to see movement for the sake of the mission moving forward? This is not a personal preference goal, or just changing something for the sake of change, this is somewhere that in year one you’ve got to see movement for the sake of the mission.
7. Listen for God’s leading most of all Above all, make sure you are listening for God’s voice and word for you and those you lead in this season. Stay faithful to God and His call. I can’t emphasize this one enough. God is our leader, our boss, the head of the Church, and the leader of our mission in neighbourhoods around the world. I’m pausing now, as I write this, to pray for all of you starting in a new position in this season. May you have God’s wisdom! May you lead us closer to the King and the Kingdom! May you lead us into our neighbourhoods to show and tell the gospel! Keep joining God in your neighbourhoods.
6. Ask lots of questions You have fresh eyes and see things others have gone blind to in your church/organization. If they are used well, these fresh eyes are a gift to the church/organization. You have more permission than anyone to ask “Why do we do it this way?” Especially ask lots of questions to find out the expectations around your role. Ask lots of questions to assess the current state of the mission, the season people are in, and the way forward. Ask lots of questions and listen, listen, listen. You have a lot to learn as the newbie.
Renee Embree St. John, NB Identify an area of your life where you can take a God honouring step forward? At the end of each day write down, “Here is what I learned today about my new role.” Ian Schneider
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Five Steps on How to Write a Devotional/ Sermon Words by Nathan Huff
Writing is difficult, especially when it comes to putting your words to something that impacts the Kingdom of God. I have a friend who, in our third-year class on the Gospel of Mark, was so nervous to do the weekly reading write-ups because he said, “Who am I to summarize and present God’s Holy Word?” Although this may seem silly at first—it’s just writing 2-page summaries of a chapter in Mark—there is some thoughtful reflection behind it. When approaching God’s Word, we must do so carefully and from a posture of respect—and as youth leaders and pastors we should do so even more. Scripture warns us, as those in leadership, that we should be careful, for God will judge us more harshly. Why? We are the presenters and holders of His holy word and command. With all this in mind, I am proposing 5 steps on how to prepare a devotional message for youth and young adults. These steps are not the “be all, end all” on how to approach and prepare Scripture for a youth and young adults setting, they are just a few tips I have found useful over the past years of my own ministry experience.
Step 1 Pray It seems redundant and common knowledge as Christians—let alone leaders and pastors—but I don’t think it happens enough. Prayer is so important when approaching a devotion or message. Think about it, shouldn’t we have God’s direction,
guidance, and approval on what we are sharing? Especially seeing as it is His words and all? I usually start praying a day or two before I even touch my study Bible or lay my hands on a keyboard, and I also pray through the process. Each step I take should be in consultation with the Lord.
Step 2 Context is key! If I learned anything from my four years spent studying Scripture and theology at university it can be summed up as, “CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT!” This is crucial no matter what you are doing, from personal devotions, group devotions or a message in front of people. I try to always keep three contexts in mind to help me navigate through Scripture. 1) Jewish/Early Church Context: What was the original audience hearing? How would they view this passage? This causes you to take off your 21st century Nikes and slip on your 1st century sandals. 2) Jesus Context: If Christ is the climax of Scripture, then all is either pointing to Him or looking back at Him. 3) My Context: Knowing and keeping in mind the past two context perspectives, how then do I apply this passage to my life and the life of the Church, His bride and People?
Step 3 Walk through the Scripture aka verse by verse This step is simple. Sit down and walk through the passage, writing out notes on what you see. Take each verse one at a time and just jot down 3-5 points on each verse. This will help you see the overall collective idea of the passage and how it all fits together.
Step 4 Consult other sources
Don’t be afraid to look at commentaries. They are there to help you and not to harm you. The people who have written them have spent a lifetime studying God’s word, and in my case they know the OT languages way better than I ever will. So just use them, please. And reach out to a few people in your circle of ministry who you see as spiritual mentors or advisors, send them what you are thinking and writing, and see if they can track what you are saying. I have a couple close friends who look over everything I do before I do it.
Step 5 Write it all out! I have found that after a day spent praying it is extremely helpful to simply spend a couple hours just pounding out the generals of what I am going to say. By getting it out of my head onto the page, it makes my thoughts flow better and I can see if it actually makes sense in physical form rather than theory. Now, like I said, these steps are merely suggestions—they are not written on tablets engraved by the holy hand of God. They are just some steps that I have found useful when approaching God’s Word in order to share, teach, preach, and shepherd. I hope you find them useful, and most of all, make them yours. If you tweak them or add some more to the list, that is totally fine. And most of all may we continue to seek to be God’s children of love, citizens of His Kingdom, messengers of His glory, His grace, and His gospel. May we live in the shadow of His cross, filled by His Spirit and shaped by His hands. Blessings, Nathan
Nathan Huff Toronto, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Keep granola bars in your car and give them to homeless people at stoplights in the city. Jazmin Quaynor
Living with Eyes Wide Open By Andrew Porter
For 27 years of my life, I was part of an amazing church family. It was home; they nurtured me and fed me, they walked with me and invested in me. It was during these years that Jesus grabbed a hold of my heart and opened my eyes anew to the beauty of who He is. I was in love with this family and with the young people I was serving. But alas, the time had come for me to leave the nest. God, as he often does, turned the page and began writing a new chapter in our story. Last fall my family and I moved away from our hometown and began a new adventure in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. As we searched for a new church family in the valley, we quickly realized how important it was to be a welcoming church, especially for new people walking into the building for the first time. There were Sundays we decided just to remain in our seats after the worship service to see if anyone would come up and engage us. To our surprise, hardly anyone did. We would get the occasional “Hello” or head nod, but not too many seemed very interested in us being welcomed to their church. As all sorts of people enter the doors of church buildings across Canada, there are just as many different places on the journey and different seasons of life. As the Church, we cannot be inward focused — we need to love each individual that walks through the doors. Simply put, we need to model what
Jesus did everyday of his life and ministry. Jesus came to seek people (Luke 19:10); He walked around Earth with his eyes wide open looking for people He could pour His love, grace, and mercy into! We live in a society where it is normal is to stick earbuds in our ears and keep our heads down with our eyes glued to a screen, while people walk right on by. Jesus wants to shake us up out of that self-centered mentality, and he wants us to notice the people around us. God created all of humanity to live in a community of love. He didn’t create us to live in a bubble or in our own little world; we’re called to journey through life with people. But Jesus didn’t just see people, he engaged with them — we see this all throughout the gospels. In John 5, Jesus makes one of his journeys to Jerusalem to participate in a Jewish festival. As he enters the sheep gate (the gate used by the shepherds who brought the sacrificial lambs to the temple to be sacrificed), he passes by the pool of Bethesda. Jesus, who was never in a hurry to get anywhere, noticed a man by the pool who had been an invalid for 38 years. Jesus slowed life down because he wanted to see people. How many of us walk blindly passed the lost and the lonely every day because we’re in too much of a hurry to get where we need to go? Jesus, in His selfless love, slowed life down enough to see people and engage with them. Jesus was on his way to get somewhere, but that was not his mission. The festival was secondary; the invalid was primary. We can see people all day, but if we don’t engage them, then we are doing nothing! We see in verse six that it only took Jesus eight words (NIV) to erase 38 years of hopelessness! In an instant, the tide turned for this man. And that’s just how quick the hope, the redemption, and the life that
Jesus is offering can come to you. This story shows that there is no expiration date on the mercy, grace and healing power of Jesus Christ in your life. You might find yourself in a tomb for three days, but a resurrection is coming! That’s the hope that only Jesus is able to extend. In our communities and churches, we need to see and engage the people around us; we cannot just remain in our exclusive church cliques or social groups. We cannot be so quick to come into and out of the church building on Sundays. If our eyes are merely focused on the mirror, then people — some of whom are in a desperate condition and desperately need Jesus — are going to slip through our fingers. If the Church is going to be the place of healing and transformation for all, then we need to see and engage all. We cannot fix our eyes on self and ignore the people that are standing in our midst. There are people crossing your path today. Do you see them?
Andrew Porter St. John, NB Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Each morning when you wake up, ask: “Lord, help me to see who I can love and serve today Neon Brand
WE CAN SEE PEOPLE ALL DAY, BUT IF WE DON’T ENGAGE THEM, THEN WE ARE DOING NOTHING!
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Ramblings of a Reluctant Pastor Words by Jeremy Ranasinghe
About a month ago the senior pastor of the church I serve at asked if I could meet him in his office. That might seem a little concerning, but thankfully there was no scary situation. He told me how he wants to help each of the staff at our church get to where they want to be. In my case, he said I had to work on two things: finishing my Master’s degree and working on my pastoral presence, to help the adults of our congregation feel and know that I am not just their children’s pastor, but theirs as well. I brought up some reservations about this, explaining how my official title and job description don’t reflect a pastoral role, which made me feel as though I didn’t have one. His response to me was, “You are a pastor.” I left feeling encouraged and excited, but also a little overwhelmed. I thought back to the first time I felt God call me into ministry. When that happened, it wasn’t a very easy time in my life. It felt as though God was uprooting me from something I had invested so much time, money, and passion in, and placed me into something unknown and unwanted. I didn’t have the support or approval from
family and most of my friends. Although I was worried and anxious with questions about why and what’s next, God’s response has always been simply, “Follow me.” While I have been doing that to the best of my ability, I’ve been doing so reluctantly. I think my reluctance comes from knowing what comes with being a leader in ministry, and the reality that this job can break you. Now I’ve been blessed to be part of a community that has affirmed and supported me in my call, but a lot of my peers have not been as lucky. Knowing them and hearing their stories, I have been able to learn from their experiences. All of this combined has proven over and over again that church ministry like any ministry is really messy, and being a pastor comes with expectations and responsibilities that can really hurt you. So why do we do this? What benefit comes from being in church ministry? Honestly the answer is different for each person. For me, I can say following God’s lead on my life has enriched it beyond what I can even describe. There is a sense of purpose and fulfillment that I could never have hoped for in what I was doing before. Looking back on the past eight years, I can see clearly how God has brought me here and shaped who I am. I have learned the main role of a pastor is to come alongside people in their spiritual journeys as they seek to answer the questions “Who is God?” and “Who am I created to be?” We are here to guide individuals and to lead church members in supporting each other. Actually all of us, pastor or not, can get in on this central part of God’s mission. It requires us to move beyond the Christian bubbles we naturally put ourselves in, and
be intentional in our relationships with people who don’t believe the same things we do. Instead of getting discouraged by the sinful lifestyles we see around us, we need to make friends with people who aren’t Christians, allowing those friendships to be real and not only for the sake of converting them. Jesus shows us the law is summed up in two commands: Love God and love others. Beyond the resulting fruit, nothing else matters.
Jeremy Ranasingh North York, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God honouring step forward? Think about someone you don’t like and intentionally love them the way God loves you. Randy Jacob
“It requires us to move beyond the Christian bubbles we naturally put ourselves in, and be intentional in our relationships with people who don’t believe the same things we do.”
The Season of Meanwhile Words by Laura Puiras
Life is an interesting thing, eh? We grow up playing pretend and looking forward to being grown-ups. Then we suddenly hit a certain age and realize we’re playing pretend all over again! Except this time it’s called adulting and apparently that’s what grown-ups do—interacting with life and each other in the best ways we can,
attempting to get the most from it while moving from one thing to the next. Thankfully, even though everybody and their mother might tell us otherwise, adulting is not the epitome of our lives nor is it the determining factor of our success. Think of an apple tree. Nobody looks at a tree and goes, “Sweet! You’ve grown some mighty fine apples! You did it, and that’s all there is for you, you grown-up tree, you.”
something you’ve either been promised or you know is coming your way—but it’s not here yet. Or it might look like adjusting to a brand new season! Weddings, babies, new jobs, and retirement can all sound lovely and yet, once a person arrives there, then what?! Often we build up our expectations so much that by the time we reach those places, there’s another season of Meanwhile we need to settle into as we discover new routines and what normal looks like on this end of the waiting.
The tree will drop its fruit and its leaves and continue living. Winter will arrive soon Survival in these seasons means embracing after harvest and the tree will change once the presence of God right where you are. more. This time it’ll (The name Emmanuel be all dried up and actually means GodSurvival in these seasons means barren—all sticks with-us.) Regardless and no colour. And embracing the presence of God of where your life has yet that tree is doing right where you are... Regardless taken you, whether exactly what needs it’s an unexpected to be done in that of where your life has taken you. place or one you season! carefully planned for, I’m not calling you a fruit tree or saying you are not alone. Wherever you are, God winter will kill you, but your life has a promises to be there with you. lot in common with a tree and with the I’m not about to give you some simple seasons that change it. One of those steps to follow or to tell you how to live seasons, one not commonly talked about, your life successfully, because what in the one which affects us even more than the world is success anyway? I wouldn’t dare tell typical Canadian seasons, is the season of you what to do with your days or who you Meanwhile. should spend them with or when you ought Not too many people are fans of this one, to move on. I am no authority on that, and because it really doesn’t seem like a whole frankly, I’m not so sure one exists. lot is happening. And yet it’s in this span of What I will tell you is the Lord is faithful time that we develop, grow, and change the and steadfast in His love and care of you. most. He’s told us that He will never leave or In the church calendar there are two main abandon us. He’s given Himself the name Meanwhile seasons: Advent and Lent. As God-with-us, and He would not have done strange as it may seem to celebrate the so if He didn’t want us to know that about weeks leading up to Christmas and Easter, Himself. these times serve such a specific purpose! Our job is to trust Him. With the same During the season of Advent that we just expectation we clung to during Christmas experienced, we reflect on peace, hope, love, and the same solemnity we went through as and joy—realities we get to know in their we remembered His death, we must believe purest forms because of Christ’s incarnaHim to be who He says He is. tion. We anticipate the celebration of His birth and prepare our hearts to welcome our Friend, you are loved beyond measure and you are not alone. Something of Saviour. incredible beauty and value is happening in During Lent we enter into a more solemn the awkward in-betweens and during the time, sacrificing and fasting something we seasons of Meanwhile. value highly as we begin a caffeine/sugar/ Where you’re at and what your Meanwhile Netflix-free time of reflection focused on looks like will not change the fact He is Jesus’ journey to the cross. with you in that place. He’s not just chillin’ In the same way that we need these church off to the side somewhere twiddling His seasons built into our spirituality, we need thumbs or waiting impatiently. Your God to be aware of the Meanwhiles we encounter is a creative and exciting God, and He is throughout other aspects of life. They might certainly not limited or intimidated by your look like chunks of time filling the space current season. Rather, He is inviting you to between more exciting things—places you explore and discover all He’s been up to and find yourself “in the meantime.” to join Him in your present. At the same time, Meanwhile can mean just that: “at the same time” or “simultaneously.” Life might be caving in. Meanwhile, you’ve discovered the precious treasure of self-care. Laura Puiras Now all of this is great in theory, but living in one of these seasons can be beyond discouraging. It often involves waiting for
Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Identify the “season of meanwile” you have recently - or are currently experiencing, and journal about what God taught you. Sugar Bee
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On Becoming a Pastor and Father at the Same Time By Jeff Baker
I became a pastor and a father at the same time. It’s something I don’t recommend. Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend becoming a father, and I highly recommend answering God’s call to ministry; I don’t recommend doing them at the same time. The reason is that it’s two major life transitions that tend to cause you to question your identity. Suddenly, I was realizing “Wait a second, I’m now a moral authority not just to my own kids, but to other people’s kids? But... I suck!” and I did, and in many ways still do. We all kind of suck, and that’s the point of grace, that when we were still sinners, when we were at our worst, Christ died for us. It’s been a long journey, and God has done some amazing things in my life, and I have realized several things along the way that have convinced me that, even in light of my suckage, I’m where I need to be, and God is going to use me. But, more than that, it’s convinced me that you are probably also where you need to be, and God is going to use you! So, here are five things to realize when going through this kind of life transition. Jesus already paid for it. Look, whatever you are dealing with, you’ve already been forgiven. I remember I was up at a youth retreat with my group and I was feeling really guilty about things. Weird things. Things I’d already confessed to, things I’d already apologized for. Satan was throwing them back in my face to undermine me and make me feel like I had no place in ministry. I remember feeling particularly bad for and about myself and praying that God would forgive me for these things, and then I got a word from the Lord that said, “How many times do I have to die for you to feel forgiven?” Whoa. Gut punch. Once was enough to cover the sins of my past, and the sins of my present, and even the sins of my future. And you are covered by that same grace! 1 Peter 3:18 says this: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (ESV). Once was enough for His righteousness to cleanse our unrighteousness, for His death to give us life. Live in that. Breathe that. Let
it take the weight off your shoulders and give you life, purpose, and motivation in your ministry.
are going through or have gone through, you need to trust God with it so that he can work through you in the lives of others.
The role of the pastor is to repent.
You minister with your life as well as your words.
Like I said, I went through a serious identity crisis when my life underwent two major transitions at once. I couldn’t wrap my head around how I was supposed to be a moral authority when I have failed so much in my life. But, I had another one of those God moments where He kind of kicked my butt into shape.
People are always watching, and very often you will be ministering to people in ways you didn’t realize. I have people approach my wife and I all the time and say how blessed they are by our marriage. Really? My marriage? I mean, I work hard on it, but not so that it blesses people; I work hard on it so that my wife won’t leave me!
I realized that the role of the pastor is not to show the Church how to be sinless, but how But people are watching, and that goes both to repent when ways. It’s importwe have sinned. ant to remember Likewise it’s not that the way we “I’m a big fan of saying that the role of the live can have Church to show negative impacts God has a lot of plan B’s.” the world how on people too. to be perfect, It’s the reason I but how to find stopped flipping Christ through our imperfection. people off while I drive (that’s only a half joke). We need to recognize our sin, turn from it, and move on. We need to turn back to God when the turning is hard. If we don’t, how will we ever expect the Church to do it? God turns our bad into good. I’m a big fan of saying that God has a lot of plan B’s. I don’t think God causes the evil in the world, I think that happens because we live in a world that is fallen because of sin. I do, however, stand firm by the fact that God can take the evil in the world and use it for His good. God will often take your biggest hurts and turn them into your greatest ministry points. I know so many people who have taken the deepest darkest things that have happened to them and used them to serve others. Former prostitutes who now rescue women from the sex trade. Victims of rape and violence who now council other victims. Men and women who have gone through the hardship of divorce and now help those going through it who are feeling hopeless. You don’t need to be afraid of whatever you
Your identity doesn’t matter. Here’s the biggie: Your identity doesn’t matter, Christ’s identity matters. You need to find your identity in Him. You need to die to yourself daily and be raised anew in Christ, as a new creation, wholly and dearly loved, sanctified by the blood of the lamb. Galatians 3:27-28 says this: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NIV). It doesn’t matter who you were before, or even yesterday. It matters who Jesus is and what He is doing in you today. Be blessed by that.
Jeff Baker Brampton, ON Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? Each morning this week, pray, “Less of me, and more of you, God.” Priscilla Du Preez
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LAUNCH From Youth Unlimited LAUNCH comes alongside Christians aged 14-25, inspiring and equipping them to walk in their God-given potential. We love partnering with young people who have a community impact idea or a leadership opportunity they want to maximize. We match them with a coach who meets with them once per month for a year (for free) to help them launch their idea and equip them to grow spiritually, in character and in leadership.
WHAT ABOUT: The Spiritual Discipline of Margin?
WHAT ABOUT: Serving Others?
Spiritual Disciplines are practices we adopt in our lives that help us grow closer to God. The practice of margin is intentionally reflecting on your life and taking notice if there are too many things competing for your attention. Not having margin can cause you to feel overwhelmed, tired, irritable and unable to give your best to all of your responsibilities. It can also mean that you’re not making time for God.
LAUNCH has been working with young people for over 13 years. In doing so, we put together a set of mini-devotionals to equip young people in areas where they’re needing some guidance as they grow. We thought we’d share this resource with Love Is Moving readers to help you grow.
The definition of margin is: “An amount available beyond what is actually necessary.” Think of a page with no margins, with words typed all the way to the edges. Do you have margin in your life? Or have you filled your life all the way to the edges?
To learn more about LAUNCH Youth Unlimited follow us on Instagram, check out this video: vimeo.com/150875792, or visit us at 321LAUNCH.ca
BIBLE CHECK UP Look up what the Bible has to say about margin: • James 5:12 • Genesis 2:2
THINK IT THROUGH What causes you to not have margin in your life? How would your relationship with God benefit from the practice of margin?
God desires that you serve Him and find immense joy in doing so. He wants to work in you so that He can work through you to touch the lives of people around you. He has served you by sending His only son to die for you. His motive was His great love for you and it compelled Him to this work on your behalf. The same love that was poured out on your heart should move you to come alongside others and serve them. He created you for good works and wants you to walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). This involves a willingness to become aware of what needs exist in your context. These needs are all around you. People are waiting to be helped in your school, workplace, home, neighbourhood, church, sports club, etc. Will you open your eyes and heart long enough to be able to see the needs and choose to act on them? It’s important that you spend time discovering what your gifts, abilities and passions are because it’s through them that God will use you to touch the lives of others. God has given you resources to make an impact in this world so that people are drawn to the same love that fills your heart.
BIBLE CHECK UP Look up what the Bible has to say about serving others: • 1 Peter 4:10-11 • Galatians 6:2 • Philippians 2:1-10 • John 6:1-14
THINK IT THROUGH What gifts and abilities had God given you? Anne Fleetwood St. John, NB Identify an area of your life where you can take a God-honouring step forward? At the end of the week make a list of the ways you saw God at work in your new reality. If you can’t think of any, pray that God would reveal this to you in the coming weeks
How can you use the gifts and abilities God gave you to serve others around you? What needs are you meeting right now and how is it bringing you joy?
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FLIPSIDE For leaders, by leaders. Flipside offers resources, articles and devotional tools for you to use personally or in your youth group or specific ministry context.
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