Articles for the Month of November 2017

The Best Feeling Ever

What is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you?

Do you remember the joy you felt in that moment? That uncontainable glee that is visible even without having to utter one word.

This is how we ought to feel when it comes to sharing the gospel! When we have a life-changing connection with Christ, it is exciting! We’re filled with a blessed assurance that is indescribable. When our friends and loved ones see us, they can tell that something is new and improved in our lives.

Why do we need to share the gospel?

A short answer: Jesus has asked us to. He loves everybody and wants us all to be saved and live with Him forever in Heaven.

A longer answer: Knowing how it feels being connected with Jesus in your life, we should want the same for others. This thing with Jesus is too good to just keep for ourselves. He is big enough—there is more than ample to share with everyone without compromising our relationship in any way.

We are given opportunities to share Jesus often. Yet there are moments when it just feels awkward. Or we just have no idea what to say without looking weird. This is where training is useful.

In building up for Impact Winnipeg 2018, there are a number of preparatory events. The Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference also has various training initiatives as they aim for Total Member Involvement across our region. Our leaders recognize that we need tools in order to share the gospel effectively. They have invested in us so that we can be equipped and work along with them.

The information shared in the various trainings and seminars applies to more than our respective ministries. What we learn fits into our daily lives and affects how we relate to everyone, not only those we’re trying to reach out to.

If you’re unable to attend an event in its entirety, come anyway. Even a few minutes of training will leave us better equipped than no training whatsoever. Luke 8 tells of a sick woman who was healed as she touched the hem of Jesus’ clothing. The hem—the edge! A miracle happened with just a touch in a brief moment. Jesus’ power is not restricted by our time constraints.

When there are events advertised within our church and our conference, let’s remember the feeling of what Jesus means to us. Let that be the motivation to support these events and be in a position to share this good news with others.

Loving As We Are

‘Thank you for loving me just as I am.’

The words flashed across my screen. Is there a better way to love someone if we do not accept them as they are?

If, in our Christian growth experience, we’re striving to be more like Jesus, then shouldn’t we aim for His standards at loving people?

Jesus loves. He loves everyone, just as they are. There are no conditions attached to the fact that He loves every single person on this planet. He willingly accepted the mission to die for our sins, even though there was no guarantee that His gift would be accepted. The Bible doesn’t teach us that we must tweak this or change that before we’re loved by our Saviour. Transformations will occur as God’s love grows in our hearts. He just loves.

Loving people will not miraculously make every irritating quirk or characteristic in each other enjoyable. There will be habits and behaviours in us that continue to grate hearts, like nails on a chalkboard. Loving like Jesus does not mean that everyone we meet will be harmless or will reciprocate love in return. Loving others does not automatically mean that everyone is to be considered as your best friend.

Loving as Jesus does means we desire His best for each other. The ultimate goal is Heaven, for us all. In our daily interactions, we would look past the misunderstood qualities and focus on the heart. We would willingly pray for each other. For those who hurt us as a result of their own hurts, we would pray that they find peace and healing in Jesus.

With all the knowledge we have, with an entire Bible at our fingertips, we still struggle to love well. We’ve taken Christ’s ideal and contorted it into something unrecognizable. We want people to change to suit our standards. We, with our limited vision and flawed insight, have put conditions on how we love. We want first see visible changes. Then, after we find them more acceptable in our sights, we’re more comfortable to attempt loving them.

Perhaps love is supposed to be uncomfortable? In loving others as they are, we stretch too. We challenge ourselves look deeper than surface level. It’s easier to quit loving as Christ does and make excuses that we cannot stand each other. But the easy things aren’t always the best things.

Let’s work on loving each other as we are. Pray for help to see the gifts we all have rather than the flaws. Ask God to love others through you.

Let’s desire God’s best for one another, so that His glory may be seen. In all of us.

Don’t Quit

A family wanted to plant a baby tree in their front yard. They dreamed of watching this tree grow. Birds would build their nests in its branches. Their children would go on imaginary adventures as they climbed the tree. As it matured, the tree would provide shade for their home as well. The family had great intentions for their tree.

They shopped around for the ideal tree and sound found the perfect one. A hole was dug and they dropped the baby tree into it. They carefully repacked dirt around the base of the tree, then stepped back to admire their handiwork. They were not a green thumb family, so this was a major accomplishment. Things went well, except for one obvious detail.

The tree was crooked.

Back into the dirt they plunged, as they worked to straighten the little tree. A bit better, but still the lean was still obvious. Each time they attempted to straighten the tree, it stood more erectly. But never fully upright.

Exhausted by numerous attempts and backbreaking labor, the family was spent. They were tired of doing what was good. They had worked hard and figured it was good enough. The tree was pretty well straight, at a glance. Satisfied, they went inside to clean up.

As the tree grew, the family did enjoy some of the great moments they had once dreamed about. But the tree never did straighten itself out. It kept on leaning. As each year passed, the tree leaned heavily to one side. It eventually became a safety hazard and the family was forced to cut it down.

Don’t quit!

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” — Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

Doing good is meticulous work. It’s exhausting to keep on going because the process seems much slower than we’d like. All the doing takes a toll on us. To see something through to completion can drain us mentally, physically, emotionally, financially.

And spiritually.

The family in our story gave their best efforts doing good. When they got tired, they were distracted from the end goal. Their aches and pains outweighed the positioning of the tree. They figured good enough in the short term would be good enough in the long term. They never pictured removing the tree prematurely.

For Christians, our end goal is the Kingdom. God desires to save all of His children. Anyone that He took time to create and give life to is worth saving, in His eyes. This is why God is remarkably patient and uber-gracious with us. He loves us all and wants us with Him forever. This is why we cannot get tired of doing what is good.

May this be our motivation as we encourage each other to keep doing what is good.

How to Use A Story

In John 4:1-42, we learn about Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. To recap, Jesus went out of His way to visit a Samaritan village. While there, He met a woman and talked with her. He managed to change not only her life but the lives of many other Samaritans in the village. What makes this encounter more enticing is this detail: Jews and Samaritans despised each other. So what Jesus did was momentous!

Perhaps you’ve heard or studied this story at least once before. If you’ve grown up in a church setting or a Christian home, you’ve may have heard a few different lessons on this scripture passage. Yet, each time we read the Bible, there is still more to learn. One point that came out of this story was what Jesus did.

Jesus used the Woman’s story to save her.

As our Pastor Josué loves to remind us: ‘everybody’s got a story that can change our hearts’. The Samaritan Woman had a story. We aren’t privy to every single detail of her life; only one small part of her story is revealed. While we don’t know much about her, we can see that her life is not going ideally.

At the time when the Samaritan Woman lived, people would go to the well first thing in the day to get water. They went early, while it was cooler. This was also a moment for social gathering. You were able to visit briefly with many community members at the well because there were many people there.

However, the Samaritan Woman waited until much later, when the foot traffic at the well was remarkably less. She went alone, probably hoping to return home as quickly and as unnoticed as possible. There are things going on in her personal life that has caused her to live this way.

Jesus, armed with this knowledge and a deeper insight, used the Samaritan Woman’s story to save her. He did not twist her words to accuse or belittle her. He did not abuse His spirituality, demeaning her for her differences. Instead, Jesus acknowledged that life was tough. And then He went a step further.

Jesus offered to improve the Samaritan Woman’s life tremendously.

Everybody has a reason for living the way that they do. Their story is not subject to our approval. But we can choose how we love and treat each other.

How are we using the bits and pieces of someone’s story? Are we looking to help improve someone’s life or keep them in a lowly place?