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.

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

Are We Willing to Team Up?

“Usually, those two didn’t get along with each other.  But they both hated Jesus so much, that they decided to cooperate to get rid of Him…”

This statement caught my eye as I was reading a children’s Sabbath School lesson one day. The Pharisees and Sadducees hated each other. However, their combined hatred for Jesus was bigger than their hatred for each other. They will willing to work together to eliminate a shared enemy.

These two groups were no longer focused on their differences or figuring out which group was more superior to the other. Their focus was on the bigger picture. They understood they had a better chance to accomplish their goal if they worked together.

They were willing to come together; to drop biases, even if temporarily, to tackle a common problem.

Are we willing to do the same?

Within Henderson Highway Church, we are supposed to be motivated by God’s love in order to share this love with others. Are we willing to come together; to drop our personal biases, even if temporarily, to tackle the work of sharing God’s love?

There are people within our walls who attend regularly but have never experienced God’s love. There are people on the fringes, those who may drop into our church from time to time, who do not know this love. There are those in our community who have never been to our church and do not know this love.

We must work together because the workload is too overwhelming for one person to tackle alone. Jesus was repeatedly exhausted after ministering to people each day. And even He didn’t meet every single inhabitant on Earth while He lived here. He also dispatched His disciples, in groups of two, to do what they were able to do. Likewise, they couldn’t meet every single person.

Though they couldn’t do it all, their love for Christ propelled them to give their best efforts.

God has asked us to go and tell others about His love. God has asked us to go and love others, just as He loves us. While we do have an impact on the people we each know, our reach will be greater if we cooperate and work together to share this love.

Are we willing to work together to share this love within and around our church?

Got Grace?

Friends Matt and Tommy ran into each other at the store as they were shopping with their Moms. It was one of those stores that had signs everywhere, warning customers not to damage the merchandise.

Matt and Tommy started talking, then taunting and playing. Soon, Tommy bumped into a shelf and heard a crash! Something broke. Tommy started to sweat as he thought of the impending doom and consequences. In fact, Matt was eager to see Tommy punished.

Tommy swallowed deeply as he approached the manager with the broken item. Remorseful, Tommy explained what happened and apologized. He braced himself for the oncoming punishment.

However, the store manager was touched by Tommy’s sincerity. Rather than make him pay, he spoke to Tommy and cautioned him to be more careful in the future.

Tommy was free.

Matt was furious! Why didn’t Tommy get into trouble? He deserved all manner of trouble and punishment and suffering for breaking the item.

Instead, Tommy got something that he didn’t deserve.

Tommy got grace.

God shows us His grace repeatedly, by not giving us what we truly deserve. God is more concerned about our hearts than fitting a punishment to a crime. His divine perspective goes beyond what we consider to be fair and unfair.

The sad reality is that there will be people who are upset because of God’s graciousness towards us. Because it doesn’t make sense.

Grace doesn’t make sense. God’s love doesn’t make sense. In order to reach us, to love us unconditionally and touch our hearts, He is willing to do what doesn’t make sense.

Because we are worth saving and loving, in God’s eyes, He finds us worthy of His grace.

Pastor’s Appreciation

The idea of a formal Clergy Appreciation began in the early 1990s. Using 1 Timothy 5:17 as a foundation, it soon became a widely-recognized holiday, also referred to as Pastor’s Appreciation. Churches and congregations are encouraged to do what the Bible says, to respect those who work hard in the church.

During our November 11 worship service, our head elder formally recognized and publicly thanked Pastor Josué and his family for his work at Henderson Highway Church. In addition to prayer, they were gifted with family memberships for Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Manitoba Museum.

The congregation was invited to participate as well, over the next 30 days. Volunteers selected a date ranging from November 13 through to December 12. The back of the card read:

“Thank you for praying for Pastor Josué and his family today. Do something kind for him today.”

An air of excitement ran through the church as we started to brainstorm acts of kindness. Some are planning fun surprises, some are planning fun pranks. What a blessing to have a Pastor with a sense of humour!

Though we’ve dedicated ourselves to intentionally loving the Sánchez family for the next month, our church will also be gifted. As we spend time in prayer for our Pastor, we will also be impacted, as God answers these prayers.

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.

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?

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.

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!

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