Summer: Up’s and down’s and everything else

This past summer was one of the hardest summers I have had in a long time. There were definitely some great times. I had the chance to go to one of my favourite places in Manitoba, I got to see two of my favourite people on this earth grow closer to God and each other, and I got to celebrate my older brother getting married! Along with those happy memories I have also struggled with myself, I have been excessively lazy, ignored what God was willing to teach me, and persistently unhappy with where I am in life. Instead of turning to God in these instances I turned to material things, finding my value in the stuff I buy and the stuff I have.

Matheson Island is one of the most amazing places in Manitoba, each year for the past 4 years I have had the opportunity to spend a week in August ministering to the children of the Island. I have loved every minute that I have spent there and this year was no different. We went as a team of people that had all been there before (except for our amazing cook Shirley) so we had already established team relationships. This made working together a lot smoother, we were able to spend time building relationships instead of starting them, we were able to connect with the children right away, and we were willing to be vulnerable. God blessed our team and I believe He blessed the people of Matheson Island through us.

Sam and Mikaela are two amazing people and I love every minute I get to spend third wheeling. Sam is my younger brother and in some ways I am more mature than him, but I have been learning a lot from him this summer. He might not know this but he has been showing me how a truly God centered relationship should work. He has also been showing me that I must depend on God when times are tough and that I need to listen to and trust God’s guidance. Mikaela has been showing me a lot too. Just today she spoke at her church in Morden and she reaffirmed for me what I have been struggling with. That God answers prayers. These past few years as a junior youth leader I have been trying to make prayer an important part of my interaction with my junior youth. This past summer though my prayer life has slipped, only recently (these past few weeks) have I been back to actively praying. Mikaela spoke this morning about her summer at camp and how she prayed that God would put her through trials this year at camp, and God answered! You can read more about it at her website: the heart of an adventurer. These two are such a blessing in my life, and I am so thankful for them.

God also blessed our family this summer with the addition of a new sister-in-law! Derek and Kendel got married on September 19, 2015 and it was a great day. Me and my older brother Derek have never gotten along like me and Sam do, but he has taught me many things over the years we lived under the same roof, not all of them good, but he taught me none the less! I am so thankful to have my family and so excited when we get new additions!

Along with the excitement of this summer there was also some hard stuff. This summer I took a break from my courses that I have been taking and did the bare minimum in my relationship with Jesus (read the Bible seldom and prayed very little). It created this laziness in me that I have never experienced before. Each time I took on a new task I would put it off until the last minute. This is not the way I want my life to be! I want more, and that is exactly what I have been praying for, and I know that God will answer it, because He is bigger than my laziness and He is in control.

God has put many situations in front of me this summer, from letting go of control to listening to my parents advise. I would love to say that I took these trials and applied “WWJD”, but in most cases I didn’t. I didn’t trust that God would have my back and that He would put the right people in charge when I needed to let go of control, or that my parents had wisdom enough to be teaching me things. Each time though I learned that I was wrong and that God did have my back and that my parents did know what they were talking about.

These two things: laziness and not listening to God have brought me to a place where I do not want to be. I want to live for God I want to pursue him and use the love He has for me to bless others. So for this past week I have been asking God to lead me where He wants me, in life, in my relationship with Him, in my job, relationship with co-workers, relationship with friends, and every other part of my life. I know that God will answer my prayer and I know that it is not going to be easy, but I am putting my trust in Him.

Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

My prayer today is that God will take control and lead me where I need to be, I want to play the role He has planned for me. I am scared for what this will hold in the future, but I know that I can trust God and that He will have my back.

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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

Worship

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Worship is an integral part of the Christian faith. There are a large number of verses in the Bible that in some way tell us to worship/praise God. My favourite verse is actually one of these. “Praise the LORD, O my soul: And all that is within me, bless his holy name” Psalm 103:1 (KJV). For the longest time I had a very shallow vision of what worship was, I had always assumed that worship was when we sang praise and worship songs at youth, Sunday school, church, etc. It wasn’t until probably grade 10 or 11 that I realized that there was so much more to it than that.

Our Father wants us to worship Him because he provides, is watching over us, created us, and an endless amount of other reasons. Just like there is an endless amount of things to praise God for, there are almost as many ways to worship him. To name just a few prayer (1 Chronicles 29:10), Singing (James 5:13), and reading the Bible. I have always “struggled” with prayer, I struggle to say what I need to, but what I have come to realize these last 2 years is that the times I struggled to come up with the right words were the times that I was farthest away from Jesus. God knows exactly what is going on in our lives, and he has no need to hear our prayers, but he chooses to listen to our pleas and praise, because he wants to comfort us and wants us to know that he is always there.

God knows that we as humans will not always want to worship Him, because we don’t see the bigger picture and when trials and tribulations come our way we get angry, sad, depressed, etc. So what has He told us to do? He says Lament. Lament is defined in the dictionary as “to express sorrow, mourning, or regret”. God wants to here our sorrows, our pain, our anger, our frustration, etc. As I said above, He knows what is going on, He wants us to cry out to Him so that we can become closer to Him.

I want to encourage you to try a new form of worship or one that maybe you haven’t done in a while. For example if you haven’t served someone in a while try that, or if you don’t take time out of your day to read the Bible read a chapter a day for the next week. Jesus wants a relationship with us and relationships are not one sided, we can not expect Jesus to do everything for us if we are not willing to get into the thick of it and make a commitment to spend time with Him. Hopefully by serving you will learn something new about yourself, about Jesus and about your relationship with Him.