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.

Invite Them Back


When saying goodbye to a guest, it’s simple to say, ‘Thank you for being here. We’d love to have you come again!’

As an afterthought, we may regretfully express ‘Oh, I should have invited our guests back’. Let’s move this concept to the forefront of our minds. After welcoming guests, learning their names and engaging in conversation, we can also invite them to return. Guests may have sat through an announcement period or perused the bulletin listing upcoming events. Without a direct invitation, they won’t know that these events apply to them as well.

There are some churches that deliberately communicate their expectations after guests visit a specific number of times. They are given ultimatums of what commitment level is required in order to keep attending church. At Henderson Highway Church, we do not have restrictions on attendance for our attendees. We want people to meet Christ in and around our church. We do not have to coerce them into commitment or twist their arms to go deeper with Christ. He handles His business in the best way possible for each individual person.

What we can do is share information. We can demonstrate through word and action that Henderson Highway Church is a loving and supportive setting for their growth in Christ. We want to see our guests return because we love them.

Inviting them back implies they will continue to be welcome here. In addition to the worship service, there may be other events that suit their needs. We have prayer meetings on Wednesday nights, various small groups, children’s programming and more. Many of our events are open to all audiences. Those unfamiliar won’t know this unless we invite them to come.

Many people are looking for a place to belong, where they can connect with Jesus. Let’s make our church that place!

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

 

 

 

 

Opportunities for Giving

All throughout September, there are numerous giving opportunities for us to participate in. Listed below are the offering designations for the weekend of September 30:

North American Division Evangelism
Though the gospel message itself is priceless, there are costs associated with sharing the message. The funds raised will help to support the various methods in which to share the gospel.

You can contribute to this building project anytime online through the Adventist Giving site. Contributions can also be made at church, by indicating ‘NAD Evangelism’ on your cheques or offering envelopes.

Encounter Bible Program
This is a special offering for Adventist education within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada. The Adventist Encounter Bible curriculum is being introduced across Canada this school year and needs our help.

“How excited I am to take this walk with God along with my students!” wrote one
teacher after the recent Encounter teacher training. We invite you to partner with us—schools, homes, and churches—to provide Bible resources that invite students to encounter Jesus.

That’s the goal of the new Adventist Encounter Bible curriculum. It is designed, not only to
give students content knowledge of the Bible, but to lead them into a personal relationship
with Jesus and inspire a passion to share Him with others.

Though the Bible is the only textbook, the program includes a wealth of resources that help make the teaching of Bible come alive for our children. These represent the best methods and freshest thoughts that Mrs. White was referring to. Please help us and our teachers to share Jesus with our children with these Bible resources in our Adventist schools. Thank you for your generous support!

You contribute to the Encounter Bible Program at any time online through the Adventist Giving site. Contributions can also be made anytime at church, by indicating ‘Encounter Bible Program’ on an envelope.


ADRA Canada Disasters/Famine Relief
This is a special offering, as determined by the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. ADRA Canada (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) is working with ACS (Adventist Community Services) to bring much-needed assistance to areas devasted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and most recently, Maria. In addition to emergency supplies, ACS has also been providing emotional and spiritual support. The funds will provide urgently needed support to the relief and recovery efforts resulting from the hurricanes.

You can give to Hurricane Relief efforts this coming weekend at church. Please indicated ‘Hurricane Relief’ on the offering envelope. Cheques can be made payable to ‘ADRA Canada Hurricane Response’. Donations can also be made online at any time at ADRA Canada or by telephone 888 274 2372.

 

 

 

 

 

Please keep praying for these projects. Make giving a matter of prayer. God will always guide us appropriately.

 

Rule of Three

Challenge yourself to talk to people you don’t know well for the first three minutes after the service.

Our previous hospitality idea was the Circle of Ten, where we are encouraged to greet everyone who comes within a ten-foot range of us, multi-directionally. Greeting people can be kept simple: a smile, a handshake, a hello.

The Rule of Three goes one step further by engaging with others. This does not mean that you are limited to mingling with only three people.

Rather, the name of this hospitality idea is a reminder of time. We have approximately three minutes after the service to talk with our guests before they leave. Many people, when going someplace unfamiliar, aim to slip in and slip out. While more comfortable for the guest, it often means that we don’t even have the opportunity to realize that they were there. We would like to catch them before they slip out unnoticed.

Immediately after the service ends, beeline towards the new faces. They may have slipped in after our welcome time at the beginning of the service. Or they may have arrived long after the Greeters have left their posts. A final opportunity to welcome them comes at the conclusion of the service.

Everyone, old and young, who comes through our church doors has a story. We don’t know what led them to Henderson Highway Church for worship. However, we can ensure that they have an uplifting encounter with Christ. There are numerous chances for this during the music, the prayers, the giving, the praise, the children’s story, the message.

And through 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.

 

 

 


 

Journey Through Cactusville–VBX 2017 Recap

Howdy Buckaroos & Cowpokes!

Just like that, Vacation Bible Xperience is over! We had a blast in Cactusville as we learned and experienced in a variety of ways how ‘kids are called to follow Jesus’.

The excitement started before Cactusville opened to the public. A group of volunteers met the evening before to transform our entire church into a western-ranch setting. Each day began with an opening Round-Up, which had songs, skits, and fun. There were themes for each day, expanding on how kids called to follow Jesus. A Cactusville Critter was introduced, with some basic information on their lives and how they too are called.

Tarantula Tammy was called to be different, like John the Baptist.
Prairie Dog Pete was called to be faithful, like Abraham.
Chuck the Chuckwalla was called to forgive, like Joseph.
Pack Mule Patty was called to serve, like Deborah.
Road Runner Roy was called to give, like Jesus.

The sub-themes were used for the entire three hours, throughout the various stations:

Sunset Canyon was the prayer room.
Chuckwagon Station filled hungry tummies with delicious snacks.
Trading Post was where creativity was explored through crafts.
Wild Horse Corral provided the space to run and play.
Campfire Stories was the interactive place to learn Bible stories.

By the week’s end, the deputies-in-training were familiar with the Golden Nugget, which is found in 2 Timothy 1:9 (NKJV):

{Jesus}…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

The Adventist VBX programs also include a special mission project each year. For 2017, the theme is ‘Operation Wheels‘. The children learned about five different refugee families of various nationalities, who now reside in Arizona, United States. Operation Wheels is working to purchase a bus. This vehicle will help to provide transportation for refugee families to attend school, adult education classes, work, worship and more.

Our children were eager to participate and came with coins jangling in their pockets each evening and raised $222.22 by the end of the week!

In addition to being fully deputized, the children also made a decision to follow Jesus. It was a blessing to watch their excitement as they chose Jesus for themselves. Many parents and children were grateful for their time in Cactusville and are eagerly anticipating VBX 2018.

A special THANK YOU to all the hard working volunteers. Thank you for your donations and loans of décor items, for the setup and take down crew, constructing the backdrop, leading the various stations, wrangling support (adult supervisors), audio-visual, registration and prayerful support. Though the target of this ministry is the children, we are all involved in the work.

An extra special THANK YOU to our faithful organizer, Sheryl!! She has been working for months to ensure that VBX was truly a blessing! We appreciate you, Sheryl!

Check out our slideshow of our week at Cactusville.

Circle of Ten

The church was packed as an usher found room for us to sit. We were on vacation and had heard it was Visitor’s Day at this particular church, so we decided to visit. We sat sandwiched between other worshippers, curious as to what would make their Visitor’s Day remarkable. The most memorable part of the experience was how we were greeted.

Nobody said hello. One woman attempted to grab my baby for a cuddle, without even so much as a smile and was unsuccessful. There were a few smiles exchanged. But in a facility full of hundreds of people, it was disappointing to see that no one would even greet us.

We can learn from the experiences of others. We can choose to do things differently at Henderson Highway Church. Each opportunity to smile, greet and interact with a guest is an opportunity for them to meet Jesus through us. A great way to ensure everyone gets noticed is to apply the ‘Circle of Ten’.

Let’s picture ourselves each standing in the middle of a 10-foot hula hoop. With a hoop that wide, those ten feet are bound to bump into someone else. In a full sanctuary, we will each bump into many someones. What if we got into the habit of greeting everyone who came within our hula hoop range? Look behind, in front, to the left and to the right. Those are the people to share a warm smile with, a handshake, a simple greeting.

The beauty of the ‘Circle of Ten’ is that everyone is working with the same range. The person next to you, the leader up front, the child in the parents’ room–we are all in the middle of a 10-foot hoop too. This creates overlap so that no one is isolated.

Let’s take time to greet everyone who comes within our circle, particularly those we don’t know well. This will ensure that they are noticed and welcomed.

 

 

 

 

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

Make the First Move


This point is often underrated because it’s a simple one.

Make the first move. Be the initiator.

Some business establishments seem to have this concept mastered. They want our dollars and our repeat business. One way to make the potential spending experience memorable is to value their clients. Staff are assigned to welcome everyone who comes on their premises. Whether they are a familiar face or not, everybody is greeted. Clients may even be asked if they need help finding a particular product or area for their needs. Then they are escorted or passed off to another staff member who can best assist them.

Ideally, the church setting operates in a similar manner. As Christians, we should be highly interested in everyone who comes through our church doors because this is a chance for them to meet Jesus and experience His love. We don’t know what may have impelled someone to visit our church. They may be coming due to tradition or because they were invited or for any reason in between. If we all make an effort to proactively greet everyone, whether they are familiar to us or not, it would brighten the atmosphere in our church.

Smiling is not a duty reserved only for the greeter team. We can all get into the habit of smiling at each other first. It does take courage to say ‘hello’. With practice, however, it will soon become natural. We may not know all the answers, but we can direct our guests to someone who is better equipped to assist them.

Let’s work on making the first move. We don’t need to wait or assume that anyone else is doing it. It is harmless and heartwarming for our guests and members to receive dozens of smiles.

 

 

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