The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 

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Christmas is coming!!!

At the Park home, our decorations are up.  We went to a tree farm and found the perfect tree.  We took out our eclectic collection of ornaments, our little Christmas village, and our Christmas train.  And of course, our most precious decoration, the nativity scene made of olive wood straight from Israel.

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It’s fun to display our “Christmassy stuff” and while we’re at it, there is a yule log DVD playing on the TV with Christmas music in the background.

Christmas can bring so much joy. All the lights, tinsel, gifts, and music can create an atmosphere of cheer and laughter and happiness.

However, Christmas can bring the reverse. It can bring anxiety as we rush to the mall or to the big box stores to find the perfect gifts. It can bring frustration as we encounter impatient people who are out to do the same thing.

Maybe you are shopping online. Although bypassing the lineups and the packed parking lots is a good deal, there is still the issue of spending a lot of money.

Because at Christmas time, there is this expectancy that, we have to buy gifts. We feel that we must show our love and appreciation through that picture frame, that bath soap set, that purse, that action figure, those video games and so on… Meanwhile, our bank accounts get drained, our credit card debts rise, and our stress levels increase each year around December.

Is there a better way?

The truth is, there are other ways to show our love and appreciation to others. Although buying something can be a show of love, so can our time spent with that person. It’s about giving “presence” over just “presents.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I love presents! I love giving presents. But often the presents that we give, though they may cost a lot of money, actually have little value. They may give momentary pleasure to the recipient, but after some time, it ends up being a dust collector, or worse, trash.

I believe God is the ultimate gift giver and we can learn from God, how to give gifts at Christmas.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God loves us so much.  And God’s expression of that love was sending Jesus to come into our world, into our mess, into our despair and give us hope through His presence.

This Christmas, let’s try not to get too stressed over the gifts for people.  That doesn’t mean we should put the kaibosh (A Seinfeld term for terminate!) on gifts totally, but think of something that promotes quality time spent with one another.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

Consider giving presence over presents this Christmas, and rediscover that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

 

In Light of #metoo

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I realize that I am jumping into this internet conversation a bit late, but I thought I would share some thoughts in light of the #metoo movement. I also recognize that being a man in this conversation may not give much weight to my words, but I hope that they will help bring awareness to the issues and empowerment to women who have been objectified. I also hope to address men, even the good ones and encourage them to not let this movement pass us by. We need to be a part of the change we wish to see in the world.

First of all, I just want to say from the start that my eyes have certainly been opened to the magnitude of the issue of women being sexually harassed, mistreated, and assaulted. Too many of my Facebook friends wrote the hashtag (#metoo) on their timelines. When I saw the first few, I was shocked, but when I began to see more and more of them write on their timelines, it was heartbreaking. I couldn’t believe how many were saying #metoo.

TOO MANY…

The #metoo movement has given voice to women (and some men) who, for various reasons, felt they needed to keep their painful experiences hidden from others. And I just want to say, I am amazed by your courage to speak out. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to overcome fear and shame and boldly declare #metoo. And for those of you who have experienced your humanity being taken from you but refrained from typing #metoo… again I can only imagine how difficult it would be to recollect your thoughts of the past and experience the stings all over again. I pray and hope that you would experience freedom from the sting of the past, or even for some… the present.

Because it wasn’t ok for that to happen to you. It wasn’t ok for those things to be said about you. It wasn’t right for you to be treated as an object and to have your humanity taken from you.

For too long, men have disempowered women. The track record is brutal when we take into consideration all of human history and look cross-culturally. Even current stories of how women are treated in some cultures are deeply distressing. And in some of those cultures, the disempowering of women is so systemic that it distorts men’s worldviews to see it as normal behavior. Even in North American culture, the objectification of women is rampant. Sure not all men are Harvey Weinsteins but even the slightest suggestive behavior communicates the power differential.

It was never meant to be this way…

God didn’t create us so that one of us could disempower the other. God create us to be equal. He created male and female in His image. In other words, we were created to co-reflect the image and nature of God. The bible says that God is love. It isn’t just something God does, it is who God is. When men and women relate to one another within the realm of love, honoring and preferring the other’s thoughts and feelings, we are living within the realm of who God is. That means we are to empower each other to be who God created us to be.

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So again, I am not sure how much weight these words may have, but I just want to say to those who have been mistreated and assaulted, humiliated and objectified, disempowered and manipulated…

I am Sorry. On behalf of the people who selfishly took advantage of you, I am sorry. On behalf of those who thought it was ok to treat you like a slave, I am sorry. And on behalf of those who treated you like you were only good for your appearance and for sexual gratification, I am sorry.

And to the men and women out there who share in my hope to see this change in our lifetime… for sure let’s voice that #Iwill stand up for inequality and stand up against the sexual mistreatment of others. However, we need to do more than just type #Iwill. We need to model how men and women ought to relate to one another. We need to be examples for others to follow. We need to create new normals and new cultural paradigms that push out the existence of gender power differentials.

I believe the best model to follow is Jesus. Jesus lived in a culture steeped in patriarchal norms and values. Yet He brought dignity to women and empowered them. He gave them a voice and saw them for who they really are. One half of God’s image-bearing creation.

In the book of Galatians, it says that in Christ, all the social divisions come down and we are all one.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

So May God help us in creating a new world where sexual disempowerment is not only not ok (hope you caught that weird wordage), but also non-existent. May we truly live out the “oneness” that Christ came to redeem within humanity.

 

 

What Now? Sept. 23 Has Come and Gone…

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I woke up on Sunday, September 24 and the first thought in my mind was, “Well, I guess the rapture didn’t happen.”

The next thing I did was search the internet to see if either North Korea fired another ballistic missile, if a massive earthquake hit somewhere in North America, or if some other major catastrophe took place. Well, none of those things happened either, apart from the ensuing devastation caused by previous hurricanes and earthquakes.

But then I began to wonder about all those who were expecting the rapture to take place. I was wondering how they might be thinking and feeling after waking up the next day, and the next… I can only imagine how much mental, emotional and spiritual energy was exerted into preparing for this event.

Cuz there were many in the Christian world, at least in North America, who were certain that September 23, 2017, during the feast of Trumpets, with the Revelation 12 sign in the sky, following all the natural disasters, following all the wars and rumors of wars, was the date and time of the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Again, I can only imagine the disappointment and confusion. Perhaps there was even a sigh of relief and comfort.

But the question that still needs to be addressed is, what now?

Here are 5 things we should consider doing in light of September 23rd not being the date of the rapture or the end of the world.

1. Preach the Gospel

preachFocus once again on preaching the Gospel. It is the Gospel that saves sinners from that day which will come. Let your words and your life be a living testimony to the power of the Gospel. Let your life make Jesus irresistible… Irresistible for His Love and Compassion… For His pursuit of those who don’t know Him yet… For His sacrifice for us. We have a hope that this world needs… the hope of salvation, redemption, and healing. Make this a high priority in your life.

2. Invest in Relationships

priscilla-du-preez-234138Invest in the relationships you have now. Whether that be with your closest friends, your neighbors, your family, your husband, your wife, your children… make sure you take time and effort to build one another up. That may mean to make amends with those you lost touch with, those who have become distant, those who have fallen away. The building and re-building of relationships have the potential to reap eternal benefits.

3. Be Mindful of what you feed your soul.

lysander-yuen-288916We live in an age of information overload. There is a lot of material out there, and not all of it is true. Not all of it is fruitful for you. If what you are taking in causes fear and anxiety, it’s probably not a good idea to indulge in those things. The Bible encourages us to keep that which is good and noble in our minds because of how it affects our everyday life. So when you hear about another possible date for the end of the world, keep your thoughts in line with Matthew 24:36. No one will know the time of the end except one person, that is God the Father. If you are filling your soul with His words and His thoughts, you’re good… And the occasional Netflix ain’t too bad either.

4. However, Be watchful…

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It is still valid to be aware of the signs of the times. The sons of Issachar in the bible were credited as those who were aware of the times to give warnings up ahead. So with that said, I am not negating the passages in the bible that talk about the signs of the last days. We are living in that time. However, let the signs of the times compel you to follow steps 1 and 2.

5. Enjoy Every Moment

luke-ellis-craven-231977Each day that you and I have is a gift from God.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:34 ESV

Whether the end of all things is tomorrow or 100 years from now, we still have today. See it for what it is. A blessing from God. To bask in the glory and beauty of His creation, to receive His unfailing love and extend it to others, to be blessed in order to be a blessing.

The end may be near, but it’s not yet. Make every day count.

 

 

It’s the End of the World as we Know it… Really?

Man oh man… There is a lot of talk on the internet about September 23, 2017, being the end of the world, the date of the rapture, the start of the great tribulation, and so on… And I’ll be honest with you… I kinda got sucked into all the theories…briefly…

Some of them sound super convincing. Well…the weather phenomena being the fulfillment of Luke 21 and Matthew 24 was a bit of a stretch.  Though this year has been devastating, and continues to be, 2004 was really bad too… And there have been severe natural disasters happening for as long as I could remember.

But the Revelation 12 sign… That grabbed my attention.

Revelation 12:1-2 says this…

 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head, a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. (ESV)

It turns out that on September 23rd, the constellations Virgo and Leo will be a part of a celestial spectacle that day. Virgo, which is a constellation depicted as a woman, will have the sun on her shoulder and the moon at her feet. At her head will be the constellation Leo which is made up of 9 stars.  The remaining 3 stars will be three planets that just so happen to align in a row that day right beside Leo, making it a total of 12 stars. The interesting thing about this is that the planet Jupiter has been inside the constellation Virgo, right around where the womb would be, and it’s been there for 9 months.  On September 23, Jupiter will exit the womb.

So WOW! That sounds crazy!!! I was hooked man… It grabbed my attention. After all, God did say that the sun, moon, and stars were created to be for “signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Gen 1:14)

But then I remembered the blood moon tetrad that took place a couple of years ago. I was intrigued then too. The rapture didn’t happen then.  The world didn’t end then.

Then I remembered the Mayan calendar fiasco for December 21, 2012. The rapture didn’t happen then.  The world didn’t end then.

There have been many failed predictions over the years, and actually… if we look into church history, these types of predictions have been miscalculated for centuries.

After remembering those miscalculated dates, I was brought back to the most important passage regarding this sort of date setting.

Matthew 24:36 says,

 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

Date setting is clearly not on the agenda for us. No one, not even Jesus, knows when that day will be.

I read a great article this morning written by Dr. Brian Irwin who is an Associate Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures at Knox College in Toronto. I would encourage you to read it.

https://www.wycliffecollege.ca/blog/end-world-hand-or-it

A bit of a spoiler alert… He had a great line in that article for the church. Dr. Irwin wrote,

“As the church, we’re not so much to be watching and waiting as watching and doing.”

I love that. We’re not called to sit on the sidelines and provide commentaries on the troubles of this world while we wait for the “rapture” bus. Sure the signs seem somewhat conspicuous, but that doesn’t change what we are called to do.

We are called to be salt.

We are called to be light.

We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Let’s not forget Matthew 25:31-46.

(Mic Drop) (Shameless walk off stage)

 

 

 

Prophetic Perspectives: Hurricanes, Earthquakes and the Judgment of God

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‘Tis the season for hurricanes and tropical storms. Coming from a resident of Southern Ontario in Canada, I have very little understanding of what that means.  Although not long ago, I guess, we’ve experienced heavy winds and a few tornado touchdowns… but nothing quite like a category 4 or 5 hurricane ripping through a coastal city. At least not in my lifetime.

But my heart breaks for those affected by Harvey, Irma, and Katia. Jose is out there somewhere too. And Mexico’s strongest earthquake in a century hit last week, leaving almost a hundred dead and thousands displaced from their homes. Add to that, the largest wildfire in the history of British Columbia is spreading into Alberta, causing devastation in its path. These are but a few of the many disastrous natural phenomena happening globally.

Certainly, the quantity and intensity of these natural disasters are alarming. And when anything tragic like this happens, we humans have a tendency to seek for answers. What is causing these storms to occur in such succession?  Are all these disasters due to global warming? Is it simply because we are in the season for hurricanes?  On and on it goes…

Some have answers. Scientists and meteorologists have answers.  But they aren’t the only ones to give them. Those in the religious world offer answers too. And some of them jump to announce that this calamity is a judgment from God.

I remember the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010.  Maybe you do as well.  Well, I also remember hearing a televangelist announcing to the world that this was a judgment from God upon the nation of Haiti due to their spiritual practices. When I heard that, I’ve got to be honest… I was angry. I was angry because we were hearing about thousands of people dying. We were hearing about families being torn apart. We were hearing about cities left in utter ruins. And that was a first response from the Christian perspective?

Notice I didn’t say “the” first response.  I am proud to say that judgment isn’t the only first response from my fellow followers of Jesus… There are others from the Christian world whose initial response is compassion and they jump in to help in whatever way they can.

A woman from my church was in Haiti in 2010 to serve on a mobile clinic team visiting poor rural areas.  Not long after the team arrived, the earthquake struck and one of the team members died. Yvonne Martin was a retired nurse and she gave her life to serve those she loved. She had the heartbeat of God inside of her.

Now for people like my fellow Christian televangelist, though I respect his ministry and agree with many other things he preaches, this perspective of judgment from God, I must disagree with.

But I get it… this world can be a dark place. The existence of the sex trade, the growing violence, the rampant racism, and the widening chasm between the elite wealthy and the poor… It’s a call for justice in a world of great injustice.

Is there an answer?

Straight up… I do not believe that the God I read about in the New Testament coincides with the God that some of my brothers and sisters proclaim when storms come.

In Jesus, I see compassion for the poor (Matt 14).  In Jesus, I see the breakdown of racial boundaries (John 4). In Jesus, I see a God who is in the storm with His people (Mark 4).

Jesus paints a very different portrait of God than some of us do.  A God who cares.  A God who loves.  A God who walks with us through the storms.

In John 8:12, Jesus says this…

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Yes, this world is dark. I think it’s been that way for a long long time.

There has not been a single century in human history that didn’t have a major military conflict.

Earthquakes happen.

Storms happen.

Suffering happens.

But in Jesus, we see a God who says, “I am the light… follow me and you will have that light too.  Shine it for all to see.”

Matthew 5:14 is one of my favorite verses.  It serves as a reminder that I am called to be a light bearing follower of Jesus.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”

This is a calling for followers of Jesus to be light in this hard time.  Our primary calling isn’t to bring an answer, it’s to simply show the love of God in the midst of all the chaos that goes on in this world.

Then when we do speak, our primary response should be to speak life and not death. To speak hope and not condemnation.

 

 

 

North Korea and the Prayers of the Saints

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A lot of fiery rhetoric is being thrown around the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has been developing and testing nuclear weapons for quite some time now, to the disdain of the United States and her allies.  Just a few days ago, NK tested their 6th nuclear bomb, this time believed to have been a powerful hydrogen bomb.  To add to this dangerous move, there are further threats of possibly another intercontinental ballistic missile test in the near future.  With all this show of muscle by Kim Jong Un and his military, the United States finds themselves in quite a dilemma.  Do they go ahead with a preemptive strike to take out the nuclear sites and run the risk of all out war?  Do they accept North Korea as a nuclear power and learn to live with this reality the way they have with countries such as Pakistan and India?  Both of those options have risky consequences attached to them.

Either way, a path towards peace seems nonexistent at the moment.  Is there a better way?  Is there a better mindset to have through all this?

Being a Canadian born Korean, the situation that is developing in my country of descent is troubling, especially since I have family within striking distance of the 10 000 artillery pieces from the other side of the DMZ.  Not to mention the nukes and the 6 million strong army reserve.  So to have a healthy perspective about North Korea is a struggle.  It is definitely something I am not able to ignore.

There are several questions that keep circling in my mind.  Can North Korea ever change?  Will they always be governed by a cultish dictatorship where the people are forced to worship their leader?  Will the forced labour camps and prison camps ever shut down?  Will the mass starvation ever come to end?  Will they follow through on their plans to bomb the South, Japan, and the United States?

Lately, I have found that my thoughts have been less optimistic.

However, recently I found a passage in the scriptures that caught my attention.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 says this.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I realized afterward that there is a power greater than any nuclear bomb.  There is a power greater than sanctions and embargos.  There is a power greater than any Trump Tweet or Kim Jong Un provocation.   (Which sounds crazy I know, but I truly believe it…)

It is the power of God moving in answer to the prayers of His people.

Now I can imagine what some might be thinking.  That sounds good and all, but you still need to address the threat of North Korean nuclear capabilities.  It must be stopped now.

But there are no other answers.

Sanctions don’t work, as it has been proven over the years. War is not the answer either. South Korea and the nations surrounding the Korean Peninsula would be in danger of mass devastation.  Some have suggested that North Korea needs a regime change and that somehow it has to come from within.  But in a country that worships their leader the way one would worship a deity, that seems impossible.

But, nothing is impossible with God.  Do we believe this?

Where there is a group of Christians praying, there is power to change.

E.M Bounds wrote this on prayer.

God shapes the world by prayer.  The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil…

I want to encourage my fellow followers of Jesus all over the world.  We need to seek God in this hour and pray for change in North Korea. The situation is volatile and can trigger another dark era in human history. But I believe good can somehow come out of this bad situation.

May I encourage us to pray for safety on the Korean Peninsula?  Let us pray for Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin; the world leaders whose got the attention of the world right now.  Pray for each of their salvation.  Pray that God would move in such a way that the world would say, “God must have intervened.”

 

To Live is Christ

cropped-23627_the_anchor_for_my_soul-1.jpgOn Sunday I preached a message on what it means to worship God at work.  Taking Philippians 1:20-21 as the biblical text, I shared how worshiping God is done when we do all things to make Christ look great.  I encouraged the congregation that this means we glorify Christ through the very work we do and through the relationships we have at our place of work.  The application of this message works in all of life, not just work.  We must seek to glorify Christ in our homes, in our marriages, in our parenting, and in the recreational activities we do.  I’ll come back to that last point in a second.

If you were at Trinity on Sunday you would have heard me preach my message with deep passion and conviction about the subject of glorifying Christ in all that we do.  It probably sounded like I had that aspect of my life nailed down.  Oh if you only knew… Here is my confession…

Well on Tuesday evening, two days after I preached my message, I failed to apply it in my own life.  I was playing slo-pitch on Tuesday evening with our church men’s team and I played a brutal game.  I even struck out.  (That’s right… I struck out playing slo-pitch).  I was so displeased with my performance that I threw a temper tantrum at the plate by hitting the ground with my bat and then came back to the bench only to use the fence as my personal punching bag. This was not what I meant when I talked about glorifying Christ in everything. And what makes things more painful is that the one who threw the biggest tantrum was the pastor of the church team who just preached that we need to make Christ look great in all that we do.  OUCH…

Afterwards, I felt so ashamed that I needed to go for a walk to pray.  As I was pouring my frustrations out to the Lord, I was reminded of John 15:5 which talks about abiding in the Vine (Jesus) and bearing much fruit from that place of abiding.  I must admit, a part of me was like, “OK Lord, I’m abiding in you so let me play some good ball please!”  But that wasn’t what Jesus was talking about and not what ended up happening for the remainder of the game anyways.

The most important fruits are the ones that grow within me.  The external fruits are important as well, but what God primarily wants demonstrated in my life are the fruits of the Spirit as written in Galatians 5:22-23 (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control).  These fruits of the Spirit manifest as we totally abide in Christ for our everyday living.

That means that my performance is not what defines me.  Christ in me defines me.  If my performance defined me, than I would constantly come up short.  When Christ in me defines me, than He shines even when I don’t.

So… to my fellow slo-pitch team members… I am sorry for demonstrating the absolute reverse of everything I preached on Sunday.  As your pastor, I failed in demonstrating the application of honoring Christ in everything, including softball.  But I do have a word of encouragement for you and anyone else who happens to read this post.  Jesus is always beckoning us to come to Him and abide in Him, especially in our deepest times of frustration and failure.  Jesus is always inviting us to discover in Him, our true identity which is not wrapped up in our performance but rather in who He is in us.  And Jesus wants us to know that He is way more important and meaningful than some of the things we get so emotionally worked up over.

Hopefully this message will stick the next time we are out on the field.  Do me a favour though… next time I go up to bat just remind me… “It’s all about Jesus!”

Thanks guys, and thanks to all who read this confession of mine!

 

Lent

I have been pondering a lot about the purpose of Lent.  Growing up, I never really heard about Lent, possibly because I didn’t hear much in church anyway.  I mostly fell asleep during service and if ever I was awake, the preacher’s words went in one ear and out the other.  A few years ago though, my interest was peaked when I heard of Lent. Allie and I decided to do something.  We decided to not eat meat and do a vegetarian diet for Lent.  I remember going to the grocery store and lusting over the T-bone steaks on sale and having to grit my teeth and go for the tofu.  I remember trying out different forms of “vegetarian meat” products like veggie bacon and veggie sausages.  It was kind of an adventure… “what can I eat that would simulate eating meat without having to eat meat?”  At the end of the Lenten season that year, I immediately ate a Korean BBQ meal.  For those who know anything about Korean BBQ, it is pork and beef seasoned with heaven!  Absolutely wonderful. 

Looking back, I realized that the Lenten fast didn’t mean much.  It was a test of my own will power and possibly it was for bragging rights to say I went 40 days without eating meat.  I don’t think it brought me any closer to God, nor did it bring to light that I am very fortunate to be able to eat 3 meals a day or more.  To be honest with you, I don’t think I had a thankful heart at the time for the over abundance of food I get to eat.

So here I am in 2014.  I would hope that I’ve become a little bit wiser.  And it is day 3 of Lent.  I read a great article that a friend of mine on Facebook posted. It emphasized that Lent is not just about abstaining from our daily pleasures and wants.  It is about creating space to discover just how much gets in the way of us encountering God in our lives.

Our culture of consumption and materialism coupled with our pride of entitlement has enabled us to create great walls.  These walls, over time, have become fortresses that give us a perceived sense of security. These fortresses then have become the kingdoms we seek to maintain.  The problem with this mentality is that we think that these fortresses are forever and we can become blinded to the fact that there is another reality that exists over the ones we create ourselves.  It is a domain where moth and rust cannot destroy and where thieves cannot break into.  It is the Kingdom that Jesus came to proclaim and establish. 

Lent is a season for us to step outside of the fortresses we’ve built and look at our lives from a fresh new perspective. To let go of some of the things that give us a perceived sense of security. When we do this, we come into contact with the Kingdom of God, and the King of Kings who sits on the throne.  We get a glimpse of the real and find that God indeed is the one we can put our trust and hope in and God’s Kingdom is a reality that continues to increase.  It never gets dull.  It never gets old.

The God of Blessings

Last week I had something happen to me that put me in awe of God to an even greater degree.  I believe God does these things to show us just how Awesome He is… I received a phone call from one of the new music stores in town.  The nice employee on the other end of the phone said, “Hello James, we have something here for you.”  Now, I’ve been receiving a lot of telemarketing calls lately.  I’ve had calls trying to sell me duct cleaning services, calls telling me I have a problem with my windows computer even though I use a Mac, and I’ve received calls in the past telling me I won a trip to Collingwood.  They were all a nuisance and the last one was totally bogus, so when I received this phone call, I immediately thought, this was another telemarketing scheme.  But the nice employee on the phone added, “Someone bought you a guitar James, and all you have to do is pick it up.”  I immediately got in my car and drove to the music store.  As I stepped foot into the store, I was greeted by the showcasing of the finest guitars money could buy and the fragrance that these guitar gave off was music to my soul.  Then, the employee who was on the other end of the phone came and greeted me and introduced me to my guitar.  He handed me a note from the generous servant of the Most High and it read, “Please accept this as a gift from our Lord.”  I was speechless.  As I opened the case, the fragrance of the Sapele wood lifted my spirits yet at the same time made me nervous to touch it.  It was like meeting someone special for the very first time.  The employee encouraged me to play it.  As I picked it up, I could tell this was not a normal guitar like the one I used to play.  This was unique.  I sat down, held the “G” chord and took my very first strum.  In an instant, the nervousness of my first meeting with the guitar was gone and I sensed a oneness with it.  In just one strum, this became my new instrument to worship the King of Kings with. 

This whole thing brought a great revelation to me.  God is a God who blesses us.  But His blessings upon us are not just so we can receive, but that we can give and be a blessing to others.  The more we give, of ourselves, our time, our resources, our gifting… the more we will receive.

My very first guitar was a beat up old Yamaha.  I learned how to play a few worship songs on it and it helped bring me closer to God.  After learning to play just a few chords, I was asked to help lead worship at my parents’ church.  I didn’t know much about playing guitar, but I agreed anyway.  Soon after, I began to learn more and more, and I led worship more and more.  As I gave of my time and my little ability to play guitar, the Lord gave the increase.  And today, I am honoured to have received the increase in the form of a brand new guitar, ready to be used to bring Glory to God.

What do you have?  It can be difficult sometimes to see what we have, especially if our minds are on what we DO NOT have.  But ask yourself, what DO I have, and how can I use the little I have to bless others?  It is all about blessing others.  When we do, God will bless us even more, so that we can bless others even more. 

Lets not focus on our lack, but focus on what we have and give God glory with what we have.  

Need an adjustment?

A few weeks ago, my back started to feel all out of whack for the first time in a long time.  Years previous, my back was injured in the workplace and I had to get adjustments done at the Chiropractor and Osteopath so that I could walk and sit properly without pain.  After my visits with the Chiro and Osteo dudes, I felt a lot better and life was back to normal.  Get it?  “Back” to normal! ha ha ha… cheesy I know… anyways, a few weeks ago my back needed some adjusting again so I went to the Chiropractor, only this time it was a different doctor.  Nice guy.  We talked and eventually got to the topic of religion and God since I told him that I was a Pastor.  The conversation then became very interesting.  He began to tell me about the important connection between our thought life and our bodies.  Stress can actually throw our bodies out of whack and can put our backs out of alignment.  Then, nerves can become pinched and prevent the proper flow of information from the brain to the other parts of the body.  Now I am not a doctor, nor do I have much understanding, outside of a wikipedia answer, of how our nervous system really works, but I think I got a basic understanding while at the Chiropractor’s office.  The way we think, the way we process the stuff in our lives, effects the functioning of our bodies.  Worry, stress, doubt, anxiety… all have adverse effects on the body. 

Jesus comforts us with his words in Matthew 6:25-34 to not worry about our lives.  So often the stresses of our lives such as bills, food, medical needs, clothing, children, family, work can overwhelm us with thoughts that bring us to a point of breaking down.  It can be so easy to get distracted by all these things and feel like we are drowning.  But Jesus calls us to a new level of thinking.  A new perspective of our situations in life.  He calls us to look to Him, trust Him, seek Him.  Jesus is Lord over the storm.  He calls us to get out of the boat, even though all the odds are against me, even though it seems impssible to walk on the water, he calls us to Himself.  Now of course in the account of Peter walking on water and going towards Jesus, he begins to sink.  The message of that story though, is faith.  To be able to get out of the boat, to be able to see life from a new perspective requires faith.  When we choose to operate out of faith, when we choose to seek first the Kingdom of God, when we choose to not give in to our worries and anxieties even though things look rough, our lives will become aligned to God’s will.  

Now it may mean we will have to work on our finances and become more responsible, it may mean we will need to work on our relationships and be more humble, it may mean that we will have to adjust the way we do some things, but all in all, God’s promise is that He will walk with us and always be with us (Matt 28:20).   God is faithful.  He is a provider, healer and restorer. 
Trust Him in times of trouble. Let us re-align our minds to His will, which is to seek Him first above all other things.  He will take care of the rest and guide us to vistory over the storms.