Articles

Thoughts Worth Believing

We were created with the ability to think.

At times, our thoughts are fantastic. We can think of uniquely personal ways to make a loved one smile. Give a blank canvas to an artist and they can think of numerous ways to fill it. The fashion-forward trendsetter can think of multiple wardrobe combinations from ten basic clothing items. People who have been hurt can think of many ways to say things with positivity and kindness. Some of today’s most used items were born from a thought: the car, the airplane, the smartphone phone, the computer.

Then there are times when our thoughts are dangerous. After a shaky first impression, we may proceed to think wrongly about someone. We’re tempted to think that our sins are exempt from a list of forgivable offenses. This keeps us on the fringes of a spiritual relationship with God where we avoid intimacy with Him. We may think that our salvation happens because we model Christian behaviors without accepting Christ as our Savior. We might think that being well-versed in scripture and knowing about God is like knowing God personally.

As created beings, we don’t know everything, which is reflected in how we think. Our thoughts are based on our perspectives; how we might be directly or indirectly affected. Our thinking capacity is limited. We think based on what we perceive to be possible.

But God specializes in doing things that exceed our perspective, to show His love for us. “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NLT).

We need to trust God, especially with our thinking. We need to believe God’s truth and be rooted in His Word where He shares His heavenly hopes and aspirations for us.

Let’s think well of others so that they can confidently believe God loves them.

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

Pray For, Not About

One of the greatest challenges is to pray for those we aren’t fond of and for our enemies.

If a friend requests prayer, we can seemingly bring down heaven with our words. We may even find it easier to pray for ourselves and even strangers. But when it comes to certain people? We tend to pray about them.

These “special” people may be enemies, but they can also include those who grate our spirits like fingernails on a chalkboard. Their very presence may cause us to roll our eyes and groan. Or worse still—they purposefully annoy us and attack our souls. They threaten our Christianity by provoking us to unChristlike behavior.

And yet we must pray for them?

Praying for someone is different than praying about them. When we pray about people, we tend to ask God for some superficial things with veiled kindness. We may ask God to let them be absent from our presence that day. We may ask God to stop them from annoying us or to curb their irritating behaviors. We may even pray for them to be transferred — preferably to a different continent — where they may find a new group of people who might appreciate them more.

The motive behind these prayers tends to be more selfish. In essence, we’re asking that they stop bugging us!

One way to revolutionize our prayer lives is to adjust our mindset about people. Rather than seeing them as a pestilence to us, we need to ask God to help us see them as His dearly beloved children.

Yes, God loves everyone, whether or not we love them. We can ask God to love them through us.

This does not mean that we’ll automatically start loving from the depths of our hearts. We will not become BFFs miraculously overnight or at any future time. But our prayers for them will have a fresh motivation and intention.

When we pray for people as God’s children, we will ask God to save them. We’ll ask God to flood them with His Holy Spirit so that they will experience that deep-rooted joy that comes only from God. We’ll ask God to bless their lives. We’ll ask God that they would accept His forgiveness and live with confident assurance as His forgiven children. We’ll ask that God would transform their passions into something beautiful that will attract others to Christ.

As a result of praying differently, we will see a different response to our prayers. Not only is God working in them, but He’s also working in us. We’ll become more tolerant towards others. We’ll develop a new depth of patience for certain traits. We’ll stop seeing people as an irritation and start seeing them as our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our family.

Have you stopped praying for someone and starting praying for them? How has your prayer life changed? We’d love to hear your experience.

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

How Do You Believe

The notification of a photo message was intriguing. Surprised by something they’d seen, my friend thought to share it with me.

The image showed a screenshot of information shared in a social media space. Initially, it looked like advertising for the Mobile ABC Christian Store and its Winnipeg stop. I kept reading.

In addition to the advertisement, the image of the store had a warning attached.

Because of what Adventists believe, some potential customers may be concerned about supporting the organization with their money. The post wasn’t negative; Adventism was not bashed. The particular belief that was referenced is Biblically-rooted.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind after staring at the photo for some time.

1) We must be firmly rooted in what we believe.

Christians have earned colorful reputations because of their beliefs. Some are rooted in the Bible. God has clearly shown us how to live and how to love in specific areas. But there are also Christians that have adopted beliefs because they sound good. Some ideas are convenient to their lifestyle and for their churchgoers. Better still—that’s the way they were raised, the way that is familiar to them. And because leadership has never contested it or attempted to change things, those beliefs have eventually grown makeshift roots themselves.

2) Everyone will not agree with your beliefs.

One of the most beautiful and riskiest parts of God’s character is that He gives us freedom of choice. His Word is clear on many things. When we ask Him to guide us, God will show us why these standards are valuable to Him. Though we may believe something, our neighbor might not. And there are those who will flat out refuse to share certain beliefs because it makes absolutely no sense to them. There are those who do not know God, who have no understanding of His love and His desire for our good. Many beliefs, even when rooted in truth, will sound foreign to those who do not know God.

Where Christians continuously struggle is with love. We have not learned to love each other well. It’s possible to love someone, even though they don’t know God. It’s possible to show kindness to those who choose to live differently than us. A question to our beliefs is a question about how God works, not a personal attack on us. We do not have to view every question or challenge to our beliefs as the opportunity to convert people to become followers of God.

If you’re planning to visit or shop at the ABC Christian Store when they come, can we try something? First, let’s pray earnestly for the store and its staff. We often hear of the mechanical issues they face, but there can also be peaceful opposition in some of their locations. God is bigger than all of that!

Can we also commit to being the kindest, most pleasant people that other shoppers encounter? The only thing we know about them is that God loves them fiercely. Let’s be their introduction to God.

 

 

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

How We Represent

There is a claim that absence makes the heart grow fonder. It is true at times. As we’re separated from our loved ones for a while, our hearts start craving our precious, more dearest people. We miss the good moments, the comforting feelings that come with being close. But there are also times when the heart does not grow fonder with absence.

Home was not a welcoming place when Jesus lived on earth. Mark 6 describes the cool reception shown to Jesus when he returned to Nazareth. The reaction was so disappointing that He was unable to serve as He desired.

Jesus traveled, ministering to all types of people in various locales, but His family stayed back in Nazareth. They didn’t follow Jesus, using the opportunity to work alongside Him. The family didn’t even use Nazareth as their ministry headquarters. Instead, they chose to keep living as they’d always done, which clashed with Jesus’ lifestyle.

When Jesus returned home, the people of Nazareth were offended by His presence. Based on what they experienced through the actions and behavior of His siblings, the townspeople found it impossible that Jesus could be worth all the hype. The citizens would not give Him the benefit of the doubt. No grace was extended to Jesus.

Jesus, likewise, was affected. Mark 6:5 says “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” Jesus’ power was muted because the unbelief was so strong.

If Jesus were to come to our neighborhoods right now, would people be offended by His presence?

We are Jesus’ family. Anyone who accepts Him as Lord and Savior becomes part of His family. This means that in everything we say and do, we’re representing Jesus, whether purposefully or not. Our behaviors and actions affect how people may receive Jesus.

Being a follower of Jesus is more than the ability to do amazing miracles. Jesus was kind to everyone because He loves everyone continuously. He used a truthful approach with everyone, without malicious intent. Jesus lovingly mingled and interacted with all types of people. He had remarkable patience, even in the face of doubt. Jesus, who loved hard and deeply, was quick to forgive others. His very presence was inviting and magnetizing, pulling you in regardless of who you were.

As Jesus’ family, these are the behaviors and actions we should strive to demonstrate. Let’s work together to represent Jesus well. May the people around us receive Jesus with warm affection so that they may experience His amazing love and transformational power.

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

How Can We Believe?

“How can you believe every word in the Bible?” 

This question was asked of an old missionary by some theology students years ago. Using a relatable illustration, the old missionary began to respond.

He told his listeners that whenever they traveled, they prepared according to what is printed on the train schedule. If it says the train departs at a certain time, then they arrive at the station at the specified time and find the train waiting. They don’t make any other inquiries or disputes; they accept the information as printed.

The missionary continued, saying that he has lived a similar approach when it comes to the Bible. When he reads its directions and God’s promises, he doesn’t make any other inquiries or disputes. He accepts God’s Word as printed and they have always proven to be true.

This advice still applies to us today. We can read the Bible—God’s love letter to us—accepting what it says and live according to God’s standard. In 2018, we have advantages at the tips of our fingers that missionary of old never had. For instance, the Bible is accessible, and sometimes even free, in printed and digital formats There are Bible websites and countless apps for tablets and smartphones. At the touch of a button, the words can be translated into multiple forms of the English language and numerous other languages as well.

Though we have bibles so readily available to us, we struggle to believe what it says. We wrestle because of the doubts and questions that God’s enemy uses to taunt us and distract us from God.

Here are some tips to help us believe every word in the Bible.

  • Ask God to help us. Ask Him to open our eyes, ears, and mind to see more of Him. Read a verse or passage a number of times, pausing to think and reflect each time.
  • Reduce distractions. We may want to lessen or even eliminate some of what pulls us away from God. There may be certain forms of entertainments, foods, habits and more, that we need to release in order to stay focused on God.
  • Believe the words. When we read a promise, accept it. Personalize it in prayer. When we go throughout the day, look for how God is keeping His promise.
Like the old missionary, let’s accept God’s Word to us because He continually proves it to be true.
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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

Watered Down Results

She’d been anticipating this moment since waking up. It was smoothie time. Out came the blender and some other favorite ingredients. She was all set.

A feeling of dread started to creep into her as she grabbed a carton from the fridge. Either she’d gained Samson-like strength overnight or the milk was nearly empty.

She begged silently for a miracle, draining the last few drops from the carton into the blender. Please let it be close to the one cup line. Please let it be close to the one cup line. Please!

Nope. It was barely at the halfway mark, let alone a whole cup. There was not enough.

Intent on having this smoothie, she made a daring choice: to top up the rest with water. Fully aware that water dilutes flavor, she proceeded anyway. She figured that by adding less ice to the mix, it would balance out the flavor.

The finished smoothie looked okay, the texture typical as she raised her cup to taste. Even the initial sip was alright. But the more she drank, the more obvious it was that the smoothie’s flavor was weak.

She watered down the ingredients and in the end, got a watered down smoothie.

Galatians 6:7 tells us “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (NLT)

It’s fun to let our imaginations run wild and free. We fantasize about potential outcomes to great projects and programs. But when it comes to the planning and execution, we stop the brainstorming and settle into what we know. It’s familiar to do routine things with routine hearts. This method has worked before…we’ve always only done it that way in the past… We fill in the blanks in the patterns and templates that someone else has already created for us.

Then we watch it unfold…and results weren’t as dramatic as we hoped. Yet, we knew going in that these methods, while they yield results, aren’t as stellar as they could be. Regardless, the results are accurate based on the quality of work we put in.

Awareness can keep us honest about how we function. Awareness also allows us to make better choices. When we are aware that a fixed process yield a fixed result, we have the opportunity to make necessary changes.

Is God leading us to something bigger and better than what we usually do? If God is leading, then we can trust Him to guide us through new processes.

Don’t let ease weaken the end result.

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

Who Do You Work For?

It was to be a quick, uneventful trip to the local dollar store. The one purchase would be less than a few dollars. She was prepared to pay, eager to rid her wallet of loose change.

$2.50,” the clerk chirped.

She quickly counted out ten quarters and dropped them into the waiting open palm.

The cashier huffed, sighed and rolled his eyes in one movement, laying the money on the counter.

Seriously?!” he muttered under his breath, not caring that the customer heard and saw it all. He scanned the coins, counting without diligence. As the shopper left with her purchase, there were many questions swirling in her head.

Why was he working there if it bothered him so?
Did he not care about how he was misrepresenting his employer?
Is this how he lives every day, frustrated at the inconvenience of his own life choices?

Colossians 3:23 reminds us to “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

When people come to us with their needs, how do we treat them? Does our treatment differ when their need may be inconvenient to us or may require us to exert more energy to help?

Have we positioned ourselves to serve if our hearts are not fully committed to the task?

It’s one thing to have a job and be willing to do it well. To give our best to whatever is in our path. Maybe we’re eyeing an incentive or are trying to impress a boss.

For Christians, our work, our service should be executed to a higher standard. Paid or unpaid, there is no task too small or finite for one of God’s followers to do.

When He lived here, Jesus helped everyone, interacting willingly and lovingly with all people. I’m sure He didn’t drag the towel on the floor that night in the upper room, reluctantly reciting from His divine script that He was there to wash the disciples’ feet because God told Him so. I can’t picture Jesus wiping off the dirty water with a shudder.

Jesus took great pleasure in serving us because He used every interaction as His chance to love us. We can take great pleasure in serving each other because it’s a chance to show Christ’s love.

Our lives don’t have to be perfect. Our circumstances may not be ideal. But if we’re willing, God can use us where we are, for His good and for His glory.

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

Accurate Representation

Over the last two weeks, we’ve looked at lessons from the fig tree in Mark 11. Hundreds of years later, we are still learning from this moment.

Lately, we’ve seen an increase in breaking news headlines announcing of organizational changes. The media release explains that a company has cut ties with an employee because their actions did not reflect organizational standards and values. Whether intentional or accidental, the actions of the employee were cause for dismissal. They misrepresented the company and were now a liability.

When Jesus and His disciples found the fig tree in Mark 11, it should have been full of fruit. Its leaves were in full bloom, suggesting that the figs were ripe for the picking. But there wasn’t even one fig on the tree. Jesus then cursed it to never bear any fruit again. The tree misrepresented its standards and was now a liability.

Jesus and His group approached the fig tree to satisfy their hunger. But when the tree turned out to be empty, they were disappointed. Perhaps they left even hungrier than when they first approached. At the risk of discovering other bare trees, they may have been hesitant to try another fig tree anytime soon.

When the group passed by the tree the following morning, they noticed it had withered from the roots upward.

Whenever I’ve seen a withering plant, it usually starts from the top and travels downward. The tops would first droop, then die. Slowly, you’ll see less and less green in the stem as the plant dies. There is hope for the plant if it’s trimmed or cut down before the death spreads to its roots. Once the roots are lifeless, there is no chance for new life. Withered roots are unable to absorb nutrients and water from the earth.

This encounter with the fig tree teaches us that God takes His name very seriously! He has even issued commandments describing how His name is to be used.

If we claim the title “Christian”, if we act like a follower of God, then the expectation is that during any interaction with us, we’re responding and behaving as someone who is closely connected to God. Our words, our actions, our ideas should be filled with good intentions. Our very presence would feel welcoming and inviting because God is with us.

When we send out mixed messages, like this fig tree, we risk hurting people. When we misrepresent God, the condition of those in need may deteriorate.

This does not have to be our experience. Let’s learn from this Bible story and made a decision to live and represent God with our best. We are not alone in how we live day to day. The Holy Spirit is available to us and helps us live honestly, representing God with accuracy in all that we do.

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

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Read more about the fig tree:
Part 1: Are We Productive?
Part 2: Seasonal Produce

Seasonal Produce

Last week, we began looking at lessons from the fig tree in Mark 11. Hundreds of years later, we are still learning from this moment.

Though the tree looked promising, it did not produce any fruit. It did not fulfill the purpose for which it was created. This tree was then destroyed by Jesus Himself because it produced nothing. Even one fruit would have changed the fate of this tree.

When it comes to our lives, we must be producing something in order to be effective. It’s not enough to only look like a Christ-follower or to wear the title. We must live and love as Christ did.

Life is full of seasons. Each of us is living at our own pace in this journey of a Christian life. There are seasons of hardship. These moments can be incredibly painful and we may wish to hit a pause button on life in order to catch our breath. There are also seasons when we may not want to awaken from what must be a dream because life is going spectacularly well. Blessings are lining up for us and our jaws keep dropping lower and lower in amazement. We can’t forget the in between seasons. We may have developed a new appreciation for the mundane during the recovery from an upswing or downswing season.

Regardless of what’s currently happening at this very moment, life does not stop. We are not exempt from producing fruit because of what’s happening to us. The hardships and trials can fuel our resolve to dig deeper and hang on.

Dig deeper into God’s Word and cling to His promises. When we’re rooted in Christ, He will help us to weather the storms and keep on producing. Spend time in His presence, talking with God and listening to what He wants us to learn.

The enemy takes advantage of our trials and hardships to distract us from following Christ. As long as our focus shifts from Christ, we will stop producing fruit.

There is good news. Producing something, even if it seems small, is still a sign of production. It’s not about the amount of fruit that’s produced. It’s about whether or not we are producing something good that reflects the presence of Christ in our lives.

We’ll continue exploring the fig tree next week–stay tuned!

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

Recap of IMPACT Winnipeg Launch

The movement to impact Winnipeg kicked off Saturday, April 7. Henderson Highway Church was closed as rallied together with our sister churches at the RBC Convention Centre in downtown Winnipeg.

The morning began at 10 am, where we explored this idea of Impacting Winnipeg. Pastor Chris Holland, speaker, and director for It Is Written Canada, together with Pastor Elmer Manzanares, coordinator for IMPACT Winnipeg, shared the vision. This is not a project or a program, as there are no end dates in sight. Rather, this is an intentional movement to flood the city of Winnipeg with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Attendees were given an opportunity to ask questions to a panel of Winnipeg pastors, Pastor Chris, Elder David Ripley, President of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference, and Pastor Lynn Ripley.

Our morning continued with inspiring music from the It Is Written Canada musicians. It is a soul-stirring experience to sing unitedly with 700+ others from our sister churches as we praise God through song! Pastor Chris spoke on the topic “Jesus, the Great Healer”. Through the experience of Nicodemus, Pastor Chris taught us that Jesus is the answer. He is where we can find wholeness and restoration. And if Jesus came to bring healing to all aspect of our lives, then we must have a work to do as well in follow up to what He began.

The morning session was live streamed via the Henderson Highway Church Facebook page. A children’s program also ran during the entire morning, for children ages 4 through 12. Located directly across from the main meeting room, the children were also encouraged to love and trust Jesus. There was a time for musical praise and worship, as well as crafts, a Bible story, a puppet show and more. They had over 80 children participate.

Our launch day events continued in the afternoon, where we met at Red River Valley Junior Academy for an interactive prayer and praise experience. The prayer time was intertwined with carefully selected music and scripture. In case you missed out, the music was amazing! While there were moments for the congregation to sing, there were also times for us to meditate on the music performed by the It Is Written Canada musicians. In addition to our musical prayers, there was spoken prayer, corporately and privately. The program was designed on the ACTS theme of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

The work to impact Winnipeg is not an easy task. Because we believe that this is work that God has called us to do, we wanted to spend time asking for His direction over us and over this call. We do not want to rush ahead of God and work without Him. In order to impact Winnipeg effectively, we need to respond to the call that God has placed on every one of us.

What’s the end of impacting Winnipeg? The second coming of Jesus Christ. If everyone you meet in and around Winnipeg has been introduced to Jesus and have decided whether or not they choose to follow Him, then our work is done. But there are still a number of people who have no idea who Jesus is.

There will be upcoming training events in Winnipeg (such as TMI Equip on May 26) as well as other health programs. We’re encouraged to support the events hosted by our sister churches. There is no competition as we’re all working towards the same goal. Save the date from now for Discoveries in Revelation with Pastor Chris Holland, March 15-April 6, 2019.

Let’s keep this question before God: How will You use me in impacting Winnipeg?