Matthew: Pray For Our Enemies?

I am going to be starting a new series of posts, my goal with this series is partially selfish, but also not. A couple of Saturday’s ago my church’s two awesome youth pastors Corey and Autumn put on a seminar type thing for youth leaders. It was focused a lot on where we are at and how that affects our youth (or at least that is what it was like for me). One of the questions was “Are you excited about the Gospel? Why or why not?” Wow, what a question, I had not been thinking about that at all, and after praying and taking time to think about it, I came to the disappointing conclusion that no at this point in my life I was not excited or anything about it. So my goal with this new series is to keep me focused on reading through the Gospel and to push me deeper. The other side of it is I want to hopefully help people to understand things in the Bible better, and also to challenge them to go deeper with their time in the Bible. Now onto the actual post!

With everything that has been happening with ISIS and the attacks on Parliament and numerous other things, I have been thinking a lot about the action we take on ISIS, as well as terrorists inside Canada. It has been a hard subject for me to think about, because my initial thoughts are that we need to fight back, that we need to boost security and take action! On the other hand I don’t condone murder. This has been extremely hard to think about as I have been reading through Matthew the last couple of weeks. Matthew 5:43-44 says that we should love and pray for our enemies. When was the last time you prayed for ISIS or the KKK or any other terrorist or extremist group that threatens the safety of both Canada and countries around the world? I can tell you that in my memory I can not remember a single time that I have ever prayed for either of those groups.

When Jesus says that we should pray for our enemies what does He mean? Well, He is not saying that we should pray them out of existence, instead we should pray that they would be changed by the Holy Spirit, and find trust in the Lord. Now obviously this does not mean we stop defending our nation as well as helping nations that are not as developed as Canada, but it does mean that we have to pray for these people. We also need to pray for the leaders of our country as well as the leaders of other nations. We need them to make the right decisions, to not endanger innocents, and to free those being persecuted.

Please join me this coming month and pray for people that are a part of these organizations. That they would have a change of heart, that the Holy Spirit would do a work in their lives like non-before. Is their any better Christmas present for these men and women than to be prayed for and find salvation in Jesus Christ? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 3:23-24

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Mel, Walter, Jolee, and Kenna: Their story

My Earliest memory of the Friesen family is from the couple of times I went to Winkler Bible Camp. I only met Walter (according to my memory) and all I remember was that he was hilarious! Since that time they have added family members (Jolee and Kenna) and have continued to encourage and inspire me in my walk with God.

Over the past 4 years I have had the amazing opportunity to get to know their family, and they have become like family to me. We joined the Jr. Youth program at Grace Mennonite Church in the same year, and have been working together to inspire youth ever since. Some of my favourite things about this family is that they are honest, loving, crafty, handy and all around awesome people.

Earlier this month I asked Mel and Walter if I could do a blog post about them and they agreed! I created some questions to ask them, and my goal with these questions were to challenge them to think, but also to use the answers to help teach, encourage and inspire the people who read them. See the “interview” below:

Me: What is one word that describes your family?
Family: Crazy, Artistic, Creative, Loving, Special. We couldn’t narrow it down to one.

Me: What is something crazy/funny that has happened to your family?
Family: Trying to have a sleepover in a snow fort in the coldest part of winter, with a windchill between -45 and -50. Mel didn’t try, she just prayed hard. The girls and Walter lasted an hour or two.

The next set of questions are directed towards Mel and Walter.

Me: What was the best and the hardest part of being newlyweds?
Mel: That was 14 years ago so it’s so hard to remember what being a newlywed felt like… I think the best part of being newlyweds was starting our own unit, our own home, meshing our similarities and differences into our home. The hardest part of being a newlywed is we each brought our own baggage/background to the home and had different thoughts on what marriage was, or completely different expectations and selfish motives on what we would “get” out of it.
Walter: The adventure and excitement of a new life together!

Me: What was the best and the hardest part of being new parents:
Mel: The best part of being new parents happened for us 11 years ago. Jolee brought a whole new dynamic to our lives – a family instead of a couple. We were completely scared and excited that we were parents – in charge of this tiny human!! The responsibility made us mature and think beyond ourselves, so that was awesome. The hardest part was feeling so inadequate and finding that others around us place so much pressure in parenting to their expectations and standards. We need to find our own path in the chaos of being new at the whole parenting thing.
Walter: The best part was having a beautiful little baby that you could snuggle with and the excitement of being a family, not just a couple. The hardest part was the scariness of the small life you hold in your hands and the weight of responsibility of bringing up a child.

Me: What was the best and hardest part of the girls starting school?
Mel: Each girl was different. So here goes: THe best part of sending Jolee off to school in Kindergarten was seeing her socialize with other kids her age. We had lived a somewhat sheltered life before that as we were at camp and didn’t join in on the usual parent/child things like soccer/baseball/dance/gymnastics. So seeing her interact with kids was great. The hardest part? Letting go. Walking away from the school, we were both feeling pretty close to tears. Our little girl was growing up! It was hard to trust people other than us to take care of her needs. With Kenna, it was completely different. She is a social bug. She loves doing interactive stuff, she craves it. So the best part of sending her off to school was seeing her become a leader in her class, someone who thrived in the environment and excelled. The hardest part of sending her was it was our last child, the house was empty. No crazy Kenna schemes for a few hours each day.
Walter: The best part would be the girls’ excitement for learning, and the prospect of Mel having a little less stress in her life. The hardest part was trusting others with our precious children, where there’s lots of opportunity to make life difficult for our kids (from teachers/students). teachers may be influencing our kids in areas we don’t want them to be influenced.

Extra note from Mel: When Walter mentioned the stress in my life, I had completely forgotten how stressed out I was with two young and ver different daughters in the house at the same time. They fought a lot back then. I was definitely pulling hairs out, and found myself angry a lot in their earlier years. I’m So glad that God has chiseled some of that away.

Me: What would be one piece of advice you would give a couple about to be married?
Mel: Marriage right now for you is a destination. It’s what you want, crave, and think will be so much easier than dating, but it’s not a destination – it’s a journey. It isn’t temporary, it’s not always awesome (hate to break it to you). Some days you will feel like throwing in the towel, but don’t ever let yourself think it’s even possible. The days that are rough – when they come – will make you a stronger couple if you stand together in the thick of it. When the days of joy come, it will be even sweeter. Love each other through it all.
Walter: Jesus first. When you are first married, it’s easy to be less selfish, but it won’t take long before selfishness wants to creep in. Give selfishness the boot.

Me: What would be one piece of advice you would give a couple soon to be parents?
Mel: Parenting can seem scary. The responsibility towards a little baby to keep them healthy… it can rock your world when you finally hold him/her. First off, enjoy the moments you have now as you wait for your baby to arrive. Sweet moments together as a couple, planning, dreaming, and waiting. When baby arrives, know that things will change and you may be tired in all of the transition, but it’s worth it. Take time for each other as well in the chaos of parenting. Your child will crave seeing his/her parents love each other.
Walter: Don’t be afraid. It’s not as scary as it seems. Pray lots.

Me: Are there a couple of verses that have pulled you through hard times?
Mel: It’s weird to think back on what verses have impacted us in hard times. I can’t remember some of them, but in the moment when we need clarity for a decision or just encouragement to keep going, God has a way of bringing the right verse to mind. Right now with all that has transpired over the last few months (Jolee’s lyme disease and subsequent medical issues), James 1:2-6 has been playing in my head. Pure joy never made sense to me until we went through this trial. Also, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 has been a favourite of mine for several years, reminding me to keep on, know that all that is happening is temporary.
Walter: Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Corinthians 9:24, and Ephesians 4:29.

Me: What is one way you can currently see God moving in your family?
Mel: Right now? I see God changing us, making us more joyful and present in the moment. More compassionate towards those hurting or needing help.
Walter: He’s building our trust in Him, and teaching us to dig deeper in a relationship with Him. Giving us the opportunity for hospitality towards others, and being faithful where He has put us.

The next set of questions are for Jolee and Kenna.

Me: What is one thing you appreciate about each of your family members?
Kenna: I like that Daddy is good at biking, I like that Mommy is good at washing dishes, I like that Jolee draws good.Jolee: I like that Daddy fixes computers, I like that Mommy is crafty, I like that Kenna is funny.

Me: What is one of your favourite things to do with your parents?
Kenna: Go on tripsJolee: I like to walk or ride bike to school with Mommy.

Me: What is your favourite Bible verse?
Kenna: John 3:16
Jolee: 1 Corinthians 13:13

Me: What would you tell someone who is nervous about starting school?
Kenna: You’ll get better at it when you practice it more.Jolee: I’d tell them that they will get used to it and they will have lots of fun.

I love this family and their story. They are always willing to be open with me and have so much more wisdom than can be shared in a blog post. Please take a little time to pray encouraging things for them.

I hope and pray that these answers help someone who is going through a difficult or a new journey in life. As an added bonus, Alyson and Tim Neufeld will be next months focus family!

Jordan Lee Froese

Find Rest My Soul

God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you. – Augustine

Until a few years ago when I thought about God giving me “rest” or “sheltering me in the storm of life” I thought of it purely in a physical sense. This lead me to a lot of disappointments in God, I was not happy, because I thought that he was going to make life easy, but I was wrong. God’s plan for us is not an easy life, in fact he says other wise in the Bible, but God promises us a different type of rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (emphasis mine).

What Jesus is talking about there is a rest for our souls. God has given us the Bible for a couple of reasons, to get to know him, to understand that Jesus died for us, and to know that we have eternal life just to name a few. Out of all the things I read in the Bible, most of it is comforting. The New Testament is all about Jesus; what He did, What he is doing, and What he will do. He was born, He lived as a human man, and died on the cross for our sins. Then, He sent the apostles out to make more disciples. The most comforting of these is that He died for us so that we could have eternal life in Heaven, if that is not comforting to you I can’t think of anything that would be.

The comfort and rest that Jesus offers us is not one that will fully be available in this world, we will get a taste of it for sure. An example of that would be, if you would lose your job, but continued to have faith in Jesus, you would find peace and rest in knowing that He has more plans for you, you just need to listen and follow His lead. We will fully receive this reward in Heaven.

Until that time lets remember Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The Wide Gate: Did We Walk Through It?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

When I look at the world today it is very easy to see that many will find the path of destruction. The world has seen two things this week that clearly show me that. One is the gunman in Moncton (my prayers go out to all those affected) and the second is the first assisted suicide bill being passed in Quebec. These two things show me that the world is only getting worse as more people choose the path of destruction.

My bigger fear is that we as Christians might find ourselves on that path. Matthew 7:13-14 says that the path to life is narrow and the gate is small, I know in my own life that I have veered from this path and joined the easier path, but because I believe in Jesus and when I take the time to learn more about him I know that he will guide me back to where I belong.

The thing is though that we don’t know where our brothers and sisters in Christ are, we have know way of truly knowing which path they are on( often there are outward signs, but these are not always present). So, I want to ask all of you to join me in a month long challenge of devoting a portion of our prayer time for not only the Christians in our individual churches, but in all the churches. Make sure especially to prayer for church leadership and teachers, that they would get things right and be lantern on the path of life.

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” -C.S. Lewis.

Camping this weekend? I think not :P

This weekend has been really strange for me. My initial plans for the weekend were to go camping with my family at a new campsite. I was excited for the first camping weekend of the year, it was going to be filled with good campfire talks, as well as good campfire food. Unfortunately, our kittens decided this would be a good weekend to get sick.

At first we just though they had that gunk in their eyes that baby kittens sometimes get, but as we learned when we had to take them to the vet they actually had a bacterial infection. Two of the kittens had it so bad that they had skin healing on top of the eyeball. Well, the vet took them to the back and cut the skin that was on top of their eyeball, me and my mother sat in the exam room and heard these little kittens crying. The next thing that we had to do is apply antibiotic gel to their eyes twice a day, and if that isn’t enough work I have spent 15 minutes with them every hour for the last two days (every 2 hours at night). I spent this time with them, with a wet napkin in hand and wiped their eyes clean and pried them open so that we could diminish the skin from healing over. So for all of my efforts, the skin is still growing over (which might require them to be cut open again), but on a happy note the rest of the swelling seems to be going down.

Overall the weekend did not go as I had originally planned, but through this experience I think I learned some patience as well as a lesson in a small form of parenting. I now understand how it must feel to care for a sick child. So to all of the parents out there I am grateful for all that you do and all the time you spend with your children.

The weekend isn’t over, but tomorrow won’t be all that more exciting. I have to work on a school assignment. Wish me luck, as there is also an exam coming up in a short while.

Trust in the Lord

Hey everyone,

It has been a while since I posted anything. I would just like to give everyone a brief overview of what has been happening in my life recently. As some of you know March and April are called  “tax season” for me. This year it was busy at work and with school; hence why I have not posted anything in a while. Basically, my life consisted of work, school and being lazy whenever I had a free moment. Recently I have taken up the hobby of painting, I have always loved art, whether that art is on paper, canvas or in the form of music. This has been a source of inspiration for me, because recently I have been so distracted with many different things. Everyday I realize the new things the Devil tries to distract me with. It is hard to resist sometime, and lately I have found it extremely difficult. Continue reading

My Body I Can Do What I Want!

1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 18-20

So often we as humans think that everything is ours; the earth, the money we earn and our bodies to name a few things, but the Bible is clear that our bodies and the things around us are not our own. “”I have the right to do anything,” you say-but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” -but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-13.

This section of 1 Corinthians is specifically about sexual immorality, it goes on to say “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 18-20 (emphasis mine). When you buy something it is yours right? Well think about what God did, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. God paid for our sin, He has purchased us, we are His and He is ours. God did this because He loves you, the world will tell you to look for love in other places, the world twists what love is. The world has twisted love into and image that is not pleasing to God and should not be pleasing to us, they portray love as overly physical. God invented sex and made it specifically for married couples, but now we can find it almost anywhere, in movies, pornography, books etc. This is not what God intended and we should not support this. I have said it in previous posts, but I will say it again. We are supposed to live in the world, but not of it, meaning that we are here and there is nothing that we can do about that, but we do not have to follow the examples given to us by the world.

My goal of this is not to make people feel bad for sins they have committed, but to inform them that there is a true love, one that is not sexually immoral, one that is everlasting and will bring joy to those who choose to commit their lives. This love is found in Jesus, who gave up his life so that we could live. We are free of our sins, and we are made new through a commitment to Him. The one thing that was really brought to my attention recently by my pastor is that we are made new, but we will still be tempted. This might happen everyday or maybe just sometimes, but as the Bible says we can overcome these temptations and God is willing to help us! “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.

It is hard to overcome addictions like pornography, drugs or gambling, but with God all things are possible. “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. Although we think that right now we are in a rut in our lives that we can’t possibly get out of, if we ask God to help us He will! I have seen it in my life and in the lives of others, God will put people in your path that will help you. Sometimes we need to take that first step ourselves and talk to someone.

If you are currently dealing with and addiction of some kind take some time to pray. Pray for forgiveness, pray for strength, pray for courage. When you are done praying for those things talk to someone about it, lean on God for the strength and courage to do this. Make sure that the person you are talking to is someone responsible, older than you and someone you look up to. If you need extra prayer, ask people to pray for you, you don’t have to give them specifics, because God already knows what you are going through, just ask them to pray for strength and courage. Never forget that God loves you and gave the ultimate sacrifice for YOU!