No Self-Discounts

David. A notable person of prayer?

The idea sounds like an oxymoron. Yet, the more we think about it, we can understand how this is possible.

What often comes to mind when we hear the name “David” are the more colorful details of his past. A puny boy ignored by his father, yet hand-picked by God. A shepherd who kills wild animals bare-handed. Goliath & the stone. Escaping from multiple murder attempts by Saul. Nabal. Bathsheba. Absalom…

One who repented.

This is the reason why David was able to commune with God the way he did. David understood his status as a forgiven child of God and knew that the grace and mercy of God, though unbalanced to humans, was fair.

Our pasts are littered with their own collection of colorful moments. The enemy loves to highlight our ugly at the most inconvenient moments. This causes us to forget that the God who thoroughly forgave David also forgives us thoroughly as well.

When we feel unworthy, we sometimes feel that we cannot ask God for too much. We pray as though His grace is pre-packaged according to what we’ve earned throughout our lives. We pray for what we believe are the ‘easy-to-answer’ prayers. Perhaps we might find it easier to intercede for others, willingly praying great things on their behalf, yet neglect to pray as willingly for ourselves.

Lord, forgive us for discounting ourselves without Your permission. Forgive us for self-regulating our prayers hoping that it might improve our chances of Your approval. Help us to remember our status as children forgiven by a loving God. Guide us when we’re tempted to feel inadequate before You because You do not see us as inadequate. Help us, Lord, so that we can walk more closely with You each day. We pray in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

Hannah’s Story

Have you ever read 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2 from Hannah’s perspective? Though she’s mentioned in those chapters, rarely do we hear this story told with Hannah being the main focus. We discussed some of what we’d learned at our November 22 prayer meeting. When it comes to Hannah, the most commonly known detail is that God answered her prayer for a son. Yet there’s much more to her situation.

In the book “Prayer”, author E.G. White writes that “Hannah had been communing with God.” Closeness with God is what makes Hannah’s prayer life notable. The dictionary defines ‘commune’ like this:

To converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy.

Hannah is commonly known for her many years of being childless. In Bible times, childbearing was the main thing for women. To be childless gave the impression that you were marked or perhaps even cursed by the Almighty in some way. Society considered childless women to be even more inferior than they already were. Elkanah, Hannah’s loving husband, also struggled with his marital issue. In a crisis of faith, he took a second wife to have children. This second wife was abusive and unkind towards Hannah.

Because of her closeness with God, Hannah didn’t react as we might expect. She never lashed out or sought revenge against Elkanah, Peninnah or anyone else who hurt her. Instead, she went straight to her God with her pain and trusted Him to fill her heart with peace and soothe her weary soul. She always kept talking to her God throughout the years. Nothing distracted her from His love.

Another place where Hannah’s relationship with God was tested was in the temple. In her desperation to connect with God during a painful moment, Hannah prayed. She prayed from deep within her heart, crying through her agony. Too overwhelmed to speak, she trusted that God could understand her words as she mouthed them. Again, she asked God for a child and included a promise to dedicate him back to God.

The priest, Eli, was disgusted by the behavior he witnessed from Hannah. He did not know or understand her story. He did not know the torment that drove her to the temple that particular day. And he also did not recognize this type of spiritual connectedness. Society had drifted so far from God’s ideal closeness that when Hannah appeared, her actions were misunderstood. Rather than learning about her perspective, the priest assumed the worst.

Even though she was falsely accused by Eli, Hannah remained calm and confident. She knew that her behavior was misinterpreted. She had done nothing wrong that morning, nothing that needed to be defended. She was able to rationally explain that she was praying from a place of pain. And the surprised priest blessed her.

There are times when we’re overwhelmed by the hardships of our lives. Though all our experiences will be different, the one commonality is pain. Life will hurt us. And yes, we might even be attacked in our home and in the church, like Hannah was.

Like Hannah, we can commune with God. If a book was written about your life, wouldn’t you love to read this line: “__(insert your name here)__ had been communing with God”? Just as He gave her the strength to stand with confidence through her hard moments, He does the same for us.

If we’re not close to Him, we will miss out on the assurance that comes from being in His presence.

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?

Shift Your Focus

Simplicity is a potential theme idea for the first thirteen verses of Matthew 6. God wants us to serve people wholeheartedly and without fanfare. Calling attention to our good deeds is not a requirement of God. We do not earn extra favour with God because of how many good deeds we attempt to cram into our day. We should serve from a overwhelmed heart because God’s grace has first overflowed in us.

Simplicity is applicable in all areas of our lives, including prayer. God tells us to just be ourselves before Him. He wants us to speak with the language we’re comfortable in, using words we can easily spell and define. There are things that God can reveal when our hearts are not clogged with charades and pretenses. The second half of verse six jumps out.

The focus will shift from you to God.

Admittedly, the majority of our personal prayer time is often self-focused. Our intentions for prayer, usually, are to get answers from God. Sometimes the need is ours, be it for health, financial, evidence of His omnipresence and many other purposes. Other times, we pray, interceding on behalf of someone else. We believe that in saying the right words or quoting the right Scriptures–God’s own words–back to Him, He will have to respond in affirmation of our requests.

And God does want us to come to Him. He loves to hear from us. Yes, He most certainly does meet our needs and answers many of our prayer requests.

God also has a distinct simplicity to His complex character. He wants to connect with us. He desires a deep and meaningful intimacy with every single person He created. The best way to get to know someone well is to spend time in their presence.The best way to get better acquainted with God is to spend time in His presence. In addition to talking to God, we need to also listen for what He has to say.

When was the last time we asked ‘How are you today, God?’ When was the last time we prayed and but didn’t asked for anything?

Let’s spend time being with God, basking in His presence, as simply and honestly as we can manage. Let’s shift our focus to God.

What Happens When We Throw Mud?

When mud is thrown at someone, the focus is the person at the receiving end. The recipient usually ends up dirty or tarnished, because the intention of the mud-thrower is to mess up someone else.

The statement in the image focuses on how the mud-thrower is devastated by their actions rather than can happen to the recipient. In using the mud around us to hurt others, it eventually runs out leaving us, the throwers, with nothing to stand on.

When we’re stuck in a muddy place, there are two options. We can wallow where we are, pulling others down into the mess. Or, we can get out. The second option, though, may require us to ask for help; to rely on another person instead of attacking them.

Jesus is not the mud-slinging type. Though He knew every detail about people’s lives, Jesus never once used it against them. He didn’t fling His words around carelessly. He was intentional in how He conversed with everyone, man, woman, and child. Jesus wanted their hearts to be compassionately touched, not tarnished. Whenever He was stuck, He called out to His Father for help.

Jesus’ Father is our Father too!

When we find ourselves in muddy situations, call on God. He always answers.

We don’t need to throw any mud.

A Call for Prayer


A call for prayer went out last Wednesday, September 13.

Elder David Ripley, President of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and its respective pastoral search committee have been actively seeking a senior pastor for Henderson Highway Church. Earlier this year, they welcomed our feedback to best determine our needs. Armed with this knowledge and the vision for our Conference, they have been prayerfully searching. They have found a potential candidate and have been working through their pastoral selection process. The next step is for the candidate to come to meet with our church board in person. However, there have been some barriers.

President Ripley asked our church to have a special prayer session on September 16 and to spread the word before the weekend for the entire church body to be unified. We opted to for hold a second prayer session this past Wednesday evening. While our church hosts a weekly prayer meeting, we had a specific emphasis on September 13.

The time was well-spent. We dove into scripture, gaining encouragement from the Bible. We serve a promise-keeping God! He does not fail! We were able to pray from a place of knowledgeable boldness, using God’s own words.

As we prayed, we kept our Bibles open to Jeremiah 23:4. ‘Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!’ (NLT) We used this passage as a reminder that God appoints shepherds to His flock. God appoints pastors for His church. The shepherd God sends Henderson Highway Church will be responsible and care for us according to God’s standard.

We asked the Lord to intervene on behalf of the pastoral candidate and to remove the barriers. We also asked for Him for clear guidance in the selection process. We don’t want to overstep His best and rush ahead of Him. Though God’s timing differs from ours, He is always on the move. There were some who also spent time praying from elsewhere last Wednesday, though they couldn’t physically be in the church at that moment.

Thankfully, God’s power is not dependent on our physical proximity.

There is power in united prayer. When we are not unified in our prayers, there is a spiritual tug-of-war that occurs. We hinder ourselves. As our prayers pull us in opposing directions, we cannot move forward or even together. We end up stuck.

Let’s keep praying together with a spirit of unity. There are still people in our local community who have not met Jesus. We need to work together to accomplish this task.

Be Willing to Walk


Our final idea in the Practicing Hospitality series is: be willing to walk.

This sounds daunting, considering the briskness of Winnipeg’s chillier seasons. However, there are a number of ways where we can willingly walk in caring for our guests.

In our parking lot, if we’re physically able, fill the furthest spots first. Leave the closer spaces for guests. Some guests have been known to drive away if they cannot find a place to park. They may be unfamiliar with the side streets or parking laws around our church facility and won’t know alternate parking options. Some churches have reserved parking for first-time guests. This gesture shows that guests are expected and welcome.

Be willing to walk to another seat in the sanctuary if your preferred area is occupied. No one owns their seat. We do not sell season tickets or have restricted seating for frequent attendees. It’s okay to enhance our worship experience from another location.

Be willing to walk with a guest. This can mean directing them to a friend. Perhaps they need directions to a study room or washroom. Escort them to their destination. Walk our guests downstairs after inviting them to the fellowship meal. Even if we’re not planning to stay, we can introduce them to a new friend who would, in turn, keep them company during the meal.

Walk with guests by following up during the week. Use social media to wave or say hello. Send a text message thanking them for joining our worship or event and invite them back. Follow up by praying for our guests. We may not be in a position to contact them again, but we can remain connected through the power of prayer.

Our willingness to walk with our guests is an extension of what Jesus does for us. He accompanies us everywhere, without hesitation, because He loves us so deeply. We cannot make assumptions on the spiritual temperature of our guests. We can love them and walk alongside them, modeling what Jesus does for us.

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This is part of our Practicing Hospitality series. Visit the introduction page to read the other articles in the series.