News and Info

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

A Rumour of Hope

A Rumour of Hope
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

                A story about the island of Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands For seven years this colony existed before a Belgian priest volunteered to serve among the lepers. He arrived in 1873 with skills ranging from carpentry to medicine. He lived among the lepers and taught the people how to construct buildings, cared for those living, buried the dead and encouraged them through prayer and preaching.
reveals that in the 1800’s hundreds this island found in paradise was really an island of horrors. Leprosy broke out in 1848 and by the 1860’s it was an epidemic. The government of the time rounded up everyone infected with the disease and they were quarantined. They were cut off from the rest of the world by a 16 foot cliff with no dock or harbour. Lepers would be made to jump overboard and swim to the shore. There was no shelter, drinking water or anything else. If they survived it was in caves or crude shacks. Sometimes supply slips would toss crates of food into the water and if the currents were cooperative, the supplies might reach the shore.
                One evening while washing his feet, Father Damien de Veuster learned that he too had taken their disease into himself. (1885). Standing in front of his congregation the following Sunday, he spoke simple words, “we lepers.” He died 4 years later.
                This story of Father Damien reminds us of Jesus who came among us while people were searching, isolated, and condemned by sin, castaway without any hope. He came as a carpenter, healing nd teacher. Jesus encouraged people with prayer and preaching and in the end he took upon himself the sins of the world, for our sake.
                In this Holy Week we are reminded of the moments written by Isaiah when Jesus was crucified on the cross. Jesus paid this penalty on our behalf so that we might live eternally with him.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Reflection:How does reading Isaiah’s prophecy about the one who would be Messiah help you to understand what Jesus did for us on the cross?
Why is it necessary to hear Jesus’ passion story his arrest, trial and crucifixion and burial as part of Holy Week? Why don’t people want to listen to it?
We need to hear the story of Jesus’ death so that we can truly celebrate his resurrection. But many people don’t like feeling uncomfortable if given a choice. What do you think? Should we skip Good Friday and only worship on Easter?
Prayer: God of grace we praise you and thank you for sending us Jesus to be our Saviour. We don’t like to hear the words of sorrow and pain and agony which he endured for us but we know it is necessary to understand what he did for our sake. Teach us again the depth of his love and show us your way. We ask in Jesus’ name so that we might have hope because of Christ’s resurrection. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Ray Stedman, “A Rumor of Hope: The Good News of Easter”Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2017.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

People are hurting and have been hurting themselves and others for generations.

Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

                People are hurting and have been hurting themselves and  Yet when out of opportunities to live a healthier life, change seems the only alternative. But there is hope in this because change can and often be a positive end result to the hurt of the past.
others for generations. The real resolution to these hurts is to bring about change. But of course, for some people change is sometimes seen as worse than the hurt one experiences.
Wilson’s Theory of Change:  Making and consistently practicing new choices produces change.
Our change efforts have eternal significance however, when they are empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. To really understand the change process we need to understand the choices we can make.
Paul writing to the Corinthians—“Put away childish things” I Cor. 13:11 in order to be mature adults. What does this mean? It means to set these things aside intentionally. That is by choice!
There are elements that you cannot change:
·         Parents’ sin natures,
·         parents’ predispositions (susceptibility to alcoholism, schizophrenia and intelligence),
·         parents’ person issues  Routine responsibilities and life dominating issues
·         parents’ attitudes and actions toward us
·         family atmosphere
·         own sin natures
·         own genetic predispositions and natural endowments
But there are elements you can change: 
“If we don’t change our direction, we are apt to end up where we are headed.” Chinese proverb
1.       Our relationship with God
2.       Our relationship  with others
3.       Our relationship with ourselves

1.       God- whose rules should we follow.  If we chose to know God and put Him first in our lives, we will begin to live by His rules
2.       Ezekiel 18:20  each of us dies for our own sins.; vs 30 says that we are to turn away from all our sins so that they may not become a stumbling block to us.  We must take responsibility for our own choices
                This includes the time it takes for this process of change to work!  Change is the journey—relates to the unappealing prospect that is ongoing and sometimes an emotional upheaval.

3.       To change our relationship with others we need a power source! Zechariah 4:6—not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit..
This hurt is SIN and everyone has sinned- people who are hurt and unhurt; people who are good living citizens and people caught up in their hurtful past.

Christians believe- that Jesus had no sin yet chose to die for our sins so that we could experience the eternal quality of life that exists only in personal relationship with Him.
With Jesus as the pilot of our lives—we can change—
We need town our responsibilities in the injury-recovery, healing from hurts changing process but we are not alone in this if we believe in God’s unseen Spirit which will energize us and help us along the way.
Question—have you been hurt in the past that you’ve almost given up who you are?
What has helped you to realize that there is hope?
Have you ever looked to God or His Son Jesus to truly help you?
The most significant life changing choice you will ever make is asking Jesus to pilot your life, supervise your choices as you heal and change and live a renewed life and have a new purpose.
All you need to do is choose Jesus and pray words like these:
Jesus I want to know you personally. Come into my lie and forgive my sins. Thank you for paying for my sins through your death. Thank you for loving me. Change my heart and help me to be faithful to you. Thank you for leading my life now and always. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon )Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.7  

Are you worth it? Are you worth knowing, respecting and loving? Do you love yourself?

Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, March 14 2018

                Are you worth it? Are you worth knowing, 
respecting and loving? Do you love yourself?
Have you ever denied your own emotions or told to do so? Or if you do get angry then you need help? Men and women are emotional beings but often we are told to deny these feelings in order to get ahead or to mature properly.
Anger is not a sin (Ephesians 4:26) we need to recognize and respect chunks of our emotions because if we do this we often turn to ways which become addictions as they serve as emotional anesthetics.
Addictions produce a pleasurable mood change yet they also bring problems—they wear off and cause you to get greedy. They may also add to your pain.
Life is filled with pain and the more we refuse to face our feelings and this pain we will keep searching for a fix. Some of these are ‘approved’ addictions—shopping, overspending, physical care,
Change= new choices and consistent practice
Healing Self-concept and Perfectionism
·         Learn the difference between self- focus and self-awareness
·         Begin learning who you really are  James 1:23
·         Redefine yourself and key people in your life from a more mature and truthful perspective
Changing Self- inflicted Needs-denial Wounds
Truth honouring ways to respect your legitimate needs:
·         Learn to identify long denied needs
·         Purposefully identify, engage and extend your support system into a helping network
·         Begin to see yourself as clean (I John 1:7)
·         Respect your body
·         Schedule time for you
There are 4 key issues to consider about healing from Self- inflicted wounds:
1)      Performance based worth
2)      Perfectionism
3)      Denying my own needs
4)      Denying my real feelings
QUESTIONS: What truths do you see in these issues for you?
What choices do you have and can make about change in your life
What new practices are you willing to try as you progress through changes in your life?

God of love, I am your child and I believe you love me no matter what. Thank you Jesus for you are my Saviour and you have loved me so much you died to forgive me. Help me now as I continue to heal and find a new me for you to love even more! Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.8  

Life is a series of change and choosing new directions.

Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, March 21 2018

                Life is a series of change and choosing new directions.   Many factors contribute to this- the depth of our wounds, the support and helping resources available to us, and the level of our cooperation with the Spirit of God. But what fuels us is God who is committed to life. But we must have hope for if we have no hope we die.
The healing process invites us to let each of our change journeys develop as uniquely as we do.
                We are called to be stewards of all aspects of our lives including the weaknesses caused, in part by childhood wounds. We are called to bring to God our fears, cares, futures and weaknesses.  We are also to go to God with our suffering so that we’ll know Him as Comforter. We really will experience God’s comfort when we suffer. But we will suffer and there will be scars. But these scars have hope.
                When we think of Jesus, he too had scars—in his hands, feet and side. These  marks were where the nails and sword penetrated Jesus’ body. But we also know that it is because of these scars we are given the gift of eternal life. So where do we place our hope?
                In Jesus “for he was pierced for our transgressions he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us (brings us) peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). God gave to us Jesus out of love so that when we hurt we may have hope in him. “This hope is what sees in the splintered fragments of our broken lives, the reflection of His empty tomb.” (p.240)
As we consider Jesus as the “wounded healer” how does knowing that He was wounded for us/ you as an individual make a difference for where you place your hope?
What does it mean to be healed? Is it for always or is it an ongoing process?
We are people who from time to time hurt and in turn hurt others. But are we willing to help others be healed in faith? To bring others to the cross of Christ and the empty tomb of Jesus knowing that there is hope beyond the grave? Hurt people may hurt people. But helping people love others who hurt. Jesus calls us to love each other—wounds and all. Let us remember this as we pray:
Praise be to you O God because you love me scars and all. Thank you for Jesus who was scarred and wounded for me. Help me to love others and tell others of his love with hope for tomorrow. Be with me always as I continue to love others scars and all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.15

Watch for a new Easter series starting next week—during Holy Week!    

Friday, 2 March 2018

But if anyone causes one of these little ones to sin

Hurting, Healing and Hope

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones to sin, ..” Matthew 18:4-7
                We continue to discover that ‘hurt’ comes in many forms and   in order to heal from these hurts, we need to name the hurt. Some of these hurts start out as fantasies and some result because of childhood choices. Yet how we discern these fantasies makes a difference in how we respond to them.
from different sources. But
Fantasy 1—unlimited power to control- Children are the centre of the universe and they possess the power to cause events and control other people’s actions and emotions.
Fantasy 2- unlimited knowledge to cure; Children can re-do anything in order to change an outcome without consequences
These fantasies are reinforced by others including:
a) Our own “I’dolatry—I can be like God unlimited power; (omnipotence) or knowing the end from the beginning (omniscience)—figuring out how to change things; I can know everything and how to fix everything and everybody
b) New age spirituality- self empowerment means universal power and unlimited human potential
c) Parental stumbling blocks- believing that children are knowledgeable;  Children have limited cognitive development that prevents them from making choices; children should not be blamed for adult actions example: you love to make me hit you
d) Self-protection- they are afraid and powerless to have parents stop abusing tem.
Have you been hurt in the past, maybe even currently?
REFLECTION: Read the following statements and check the ones that describe your views:
1)      If I were a better person (a better Christian) I could change my (spouse, child, friend…)
2)      If someone disagrees with me, his or her opinions are usually right.
3)      I am responsible for the problems in my family (office, small groups,)
4)      When things go wrong, it’s usually my fault.
5)      If I (whatever) then (whoever) would (whatever).   
These statements—reveal the influence of childhood fantasies!

But we are called to live in truth
1)      I do not have the power to change anyone, no matter how much ‘better’ I get.
2)      My opinions are as valid as anyone else’s.
3)      I share responsibility for the atmosphere of my family, office, small group.
4)      When things go wrong, I am sometimes responsible; sometimes partly responsible and sometimes not responsible
5)       Doing whatever with whomever has no bearing on their resulting actions. The other is responsible for their actions and behaviours.
Prayer: God help us to trust you enough to let you be who you and you alone are—the One who Controls all things and changes people. Thank you for understanding how difficult this is for each of us because of the deep wounds which have occurred in our lives. Reveal to us all the hope that you give through Jesus our Saviour. Amen.
Resource:  Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.4-5         

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

It has been said that most people receive more instruction for driving a car than for becoming a parent.

Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, February 21, 2018

                It has been said that most people receive more instruction
for driving a car than for becoming a parent.  If you were to think back to when you were young, did your parents always do the right thing from your point of view? When you misbehaved was the punishment you received fair, adequate or over the top?
                We know through child development studies that certain attributes or abilities are reached at certain age levels of maturity as a child grows up. However parents who do not understand normal child development often hurt their children unintentionally. This contributes to unnecessary and undeserved shame in the child.  There are different kinds of shame and as a child grows up, if parents are not willing to teach their children with patience, persistence and instruction, these children will suffer long-term effects of trying to be perfect. Parents who are unavailable to their children, or parents with their own personal problems will lead to their children’s own hurts and poor priorities.
                Problems lie because parents often forget that from the moment their children are born these little ones depend upon their adult parents to discover the world into which they have been born. But the business of providing for the needs of children and the family as a whole sometimes overshadows the nurturing that is required.
                In hurtful families, normal childhood behaviour brings out responses from parents with unrealistic expectations and perfectionistic demands. These hurtful words often have longer lasting effects than the actual action that occurred. What kinds of words do you remember from your childhood? What have you said to your children?  Were your parents available to you? Are you fully available to your children?
                How have you grown from being hurt, to hurting and then not hurting others? Do you need help in this? Start by taking these hurts to God in prayer. Most parents love their children and do the best they know how to do. But sometimes and in some circumstances there is no rationale or understanding of what is best for a child. This is when hurt enters in this relationship.
                But God calls us to know that his love is everlasting and that we are not alone in any situation. We just need to face the hurts, express these hurts to God and we will be heard in a new way.
                God is our heavenly Father our creative Mother and wants the best for us, how might you tell God your hurts of the past, and your hurting today?
Question for Reflection:
Consider your own childhood. How did your parents share and show their love?
If you have children, how do you show your love? Do they know this is love in action?
Prayer: God help us to remember that parents are not perfect and that they like other people do hurt unintentionally. Remind me that as I seek truth about your love for me, that you would enable me to love others as you do- unconditionally. Hear my prayer. O God. Amen.
Resource:  Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001. Ch.3

And where is God in all this hurt for He does understand hurt and pain.

Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

                Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is a
reminder of who we are –dust and to dust we shall return. In this time we are invited to look inwardly and take this time for self-evaluation. It is also a time to focus on one’s faith journey with God and to begin a reflective journey with Jesus in the desert. It is also a time to renew faith as you remember Jesus’ Passion. And to look within to see the hurts of the past caused by others, and to see the hurt around which you have caused others to be.
                As we look at ourselves we might ask, how have we been hurt by others? How do we hurt others? And where is God in all this hurt for He does understand hurt and pain.
                “Scripture declares that the primary wound affecting all of us is spiritual and is self-inflicted. We have all fallen to sin as humans under physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Physically we can be hurt by machine, microbes and other sources. Mentally, we might see our sin in the flaws of human reasoning. Spiritually we have turned away from God and often this leads to being hurt again and again.
                Often when people are hurting they use anger to disguise and deflect their guilt and grief. Anger provides an illusion of personal power that may temporarily block feelings of confusion and helplessness that commonly result from painful personal crises. But just because we understand a behaviour it does not make it acceptable. There is something better and it is wisdom.
Proverbs 14:8   The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to they ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
Deception flows in two directions inward and outward—convincing ourselves and other that we are strong and invincible instead of weak, wounded and easily hurt.
 Psalm 139:23-24   Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
The psalmist asks God to search his heart to see if there is any hurtful/ wicked/ offensive way within. (different translations for ‘hurt’) yet all three describe a manner of life that is potentially harmful to self and others. How might you ask God in this?
Question for Reflection:
Have you ever been the target of hurtful words? Have you ever said such words?
What occurred after these situations? Do you thin wounding others comes as a result from being wounded and not ‘owning’ them?
In this Season of Lent—look at the wounds you have, and what you have done to hurt others.
Prayer: God please continue to teach us to value self-awareness and inner honesty as much as your Word reveals that you do. Give us the wisdom to know if today is one of those times when we each need to pay special attention to the wounds we cannot see especially in those that wound people close to us. Amen.

Resource:  Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001.         

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

But no matter the hurt experienced, people are hurt again and again.

Hurting, Healing and Hope
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

                As we prepare to enter Lent 2018 our focus is on Dr. Sandra
Wilson’s book, “Hurt People Hurt People” which calls us to look at how we are hurt and hurt others even though we proclaim Jesus as Saviour. Christians are often told to have more faith and all will be well.  But no matter the hurt experienced, people are hurt again and again. Yet where do intelligent adults get the idea that any human being ought to be able to take everything without feeling anything? This is not good—but called binding shame. This means that one’s identity is bound by shame, that is one will think that they are worth less than other people. But why do we think we should be perfect? Because others have said this and in doing so, continue to hurt us. Then we are filled with shame.  Shame is the soul-deep belief that something is horribly wrong with me that is not wrong with anyone else in the entire world. Yet we have faith in God and having this faith enables us to try again.
                God looks at the heart of his children and sees us for our real selves even when we don’t even see ourselves for real. God focuses on our unseen, inner lives (hearts) but do we? Often we do not even though we are called to examine ourselves before sharing in the Lord’s Supper. What would you find if you looked inwardly at the condition of your heart with truth? Would you then turn to Jesus in faith and seek forgiveness?
                During Lent we are called to look within ourselves, at our hearts and see what God sees- hurt, pain, or prolonged sins hidden from the past. Yet God is calling us out of the dark caves of our denial of pain and hurt in order that we might risk truth’s light. But are we willing to do this? If we hide from painful truths, we deprive ourselves of discovering that Jesus, the Great Physician is able to heal our unseen wounds.
Question for Reflection:
God cares a lot about our inner selves and our hidden wounds. God calls us to self-awareness so that we can get away from identifying ourselves as hurt people. How do these verses help you do this?
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Mark 7:21  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man “unclean”.
I Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Psalm 51:6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts, you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Prayer: God it is so scary to thinking about leaving familiar places that are filled with hurt. Help me to love truthful self-awareness more than fearful self absorption and to know the difference. Make me willing to commit to you my thoughts feelings and even the scary memories of hurt. Amen.

Resource:  Dr. Sandra D Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People, Discovery House Publishers, 2001.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

You are in me, and I am in you—May they also be in us

Living in Community
John 17:20-23- Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer
“You are in me, and I am in you—May they also be in us”
Belong, Believe, Become

                People today are looking for community- a place where
they can be themselves and yet grow in trust for others as everyone continues in everyday life challenges. This is because we are physically detached from each other. We change places of residence frequently. Most people do not know their neighbours and many experience loneliness and isolation. People of all ages are in need of each other and yet are unsure of how to do this.
                Evangelism is often associated with negative images of people asking for money and not sure for what. Yet evangelism is not this- it is a team effort of sharing faith with others. It is the intersection of friendship, relationship and “a come as you are’ learning environment where all can learn together
                We live in a post Christian society which no longer operates from an underlying assumption that Christianity is the basis for living. The ordinary citizen no longer knows or understands basic biblical concepts and stories, nor does the typical person necessarily think that Christian values have a special validity. But if we believe that Jesus calls us to be as one in unity of faith, we are to reach out and talk to others- to share our story and to hear the stories of others. This is where the intersection begins and friendship and relationship with each other results.
                What are people looking for? People are looking for others who will love them and also help others in need. This is the message of Jesus. We need only to talk with each other and make a difference.
                Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
What do you think about the focus of churches now being: belong believe become? Do you think that this makes going to church more relevant?
When you think of evangelism what do you think of? It is really just talking about Jesus—your story being shared with another and recognizing that your story is unique to others. Does this definition help?

Holy God, if I may speak to another person today about your wonderful love, and they hear this message I pray that I too will grow stronger in faith. Help me to reach out to others in your name. Amen.

REFLECTIONS Jan 10,17,24, 31 based upon Jack Kuhatschek “Evangelism: Reaching Out Through Relationships.” ODB Ministries 2017

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Power of Christian Community

The Power of Christian Community

John 17:20-23- Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer

                Jesus prays for the unity of those who believe in him
throughout the ages. This is a level of unity that he and the Father have which is described as “you are in me, and I am in you—May they also be in us” I cor 6:17   Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit!”
                There is a church in Austin, Texas which has two messages—“Come as you are” and “But don’t stay as you are”. These two messages alone have led this church to discover the power of Christian community in reaching out to others who don’t know Jesus.  Their bulletin has the following message: …..Church is a COME AS YOU ARE kind of church- a community of imperfect people doing life together, becoming allt hat God create us to be. We don’t care who you voted for, what your tax bracket may be, or what your zip code is. Whether you’ve had a relationship with God your whole life or you’re not even sure He exists, we’re glad to meet you where you are. Bring your questions, doubts, fears and hurts – no need to leave anything at the door.
                We want to help you connect with others who live near you, share your interests or happen to be in a similar life stage, largely because we encourage you to come as you are, BUT DON’T STAY AS YOU ARE. By getting to know others who are also seeking to know God, you can learn to experience life to the fullest, be more of who God created you to be and learn to love God and others more deeply. We believe lasting life change happens in community with others. Together. Not perfectly, but intentionally.
                This church was very small at first—but now reaches 4000 people per week. What does this say about their message—come as you are, but don’t stay as you are? The church is willing to help you live no matter where you come from but the direction you go is with a community that cares for you.
                Many mainline churches today are having difficulty because they want people to commit to their faith practises right away. Yet the reality is that people are seeking community, a support system to help them through the various stages of life and to know people as they are- imperfect yet caring; sinners who repent and try again, and loving others after knowing that they can and do love.
                What does “but don’t stay as you are” mean in light of reaching out to others and welcoming others to worship and to community? Is there an implied message that you will be changed? What does this mean for you?
Have you been asked to “come as you are” to a party? How did this make you feel? Under dressed/ overwhelmed or somewhere in between. Sometimes we feel intimidated by who we are when we share our sins and faults. This church in Texas, disregards this but also puts into their message that you are going to be changed if you come to their church. Is this a hope and expectation for you? That is, the Spirit of God will change you? Or are you ok just as you are?

God you call us to be in community with others. Enable us to belong and begin a strong relationship with you wherever we go. Change our hearts and change our lives in faith and with hope. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Created for Community

Created for Community

John 17:20-23- Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer

                Jesus prays for the unity of those who believe
in him throughout the ages. This is a level of unity that he and the Father have which is described as “you are in me, and I am in you—May they also be in us” I cor 6:17   Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit!”
                But this kind of unity does not come naturally- we are actually self- centred vs God centred. Sin results in the breakdown of both our divine and human relationships making us incapable of loving the way God intended.
                Even in the Christian church there is damaged relationships- 33,000 Christian denominations exist and in most cases new denominations begin when one group splits from the old as a result of dispute over doctrine, practices, sacraments and others But at the same time with the many different denominations, the fact is we serve an infinitely complex God is perfect and loving yet from our human vantage point he is also mysterious and paradoxical.
                Yet unity requires both the forgiveness of sins and the inner transformation of the Holy Spirit. It is not perfect right away by any means but it is real.  Unity is the ‘final apologetic’ that is the ultimate proof that Jesus really is God’s Son and the Saviour of the world. So we must show it! This is often what unbelievers see in Christians and they want it. So when invited into a caring accepting community of Christians, some eventually realize that our love for each other flows from our union with Jesus and he alone can heal our broken and fractured relationships. This is when this person’s life changes.
But what is this relationship building- community effectiveness? Evangelism—the sharing of the gospel message verbally and by demonstrating it in order to create the loving Christian community that non-Christians crave as much as we do.
Evangelism has been often seen in a negative light because of some practises demonstrated by some groups of Christians. Today’s evangelism often uses social media. What do you think about this tool as a means of reaching out to others? 
What does evangelism mean to you?

Wonderful God help us to unite our whole being in you and in doing so, show us who you are and how we might share this knowledge with others. We ask this in Jesus’ name for he is worth talking about, sharing and following his way to reach out to others. Amen.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Community and Relationships

Community and Relationships
John 17:20-23

                One day a woman asked me about churches and
what it is that holds them together in order that they do what they do. My response was simply a community of faith gathered in relationship with each other. This same woman then asked but what about the Jesus story? My simple response is that in order to live with each other in community and relationship, we learn about Jesus and his teachings of loving others. This seemed a good answer until she asked me again. When you say relationship with each other what do you mean? I then explained—people in the church are there for you when you need support not only through the changes in family life but just to have people to speak to you about who you are nd how you are growing in understanding of what it means to be an individual person created by God. We all experience different transitions in life—births, deaths, marriages, losses, and even the day to day matters of who we are. We are wives, husbands, parents, children and we are there to listen, act and respond as needed to each other.
                This woman then asked, “How much does it cost to belong?” I answered—nothing at first—but then everything because you become a part of the community and share responsibilities and receive gifts abundant. This woman is still active in her church and has professed her faith in Jesus because she found relationships and community in Jesus’ church.
                This is what I think many people are needing and are searching for but are really afraid of what it means and what it might cost. Often people come to a church because they are alone and in need of friendship, that is, a person with whom they can connect and share life. A person who listens and by mutual respect shares the ups and downs of living life. This goes with a relationship one might find with a significant other, but is always welcomed. We are spiritual beings yet need to be hugged, to have a shoulder to cry on and most of all, a person with whom one might laugh!
                Couples today often live away from their parents and extended families because of work commitments. Parents of adults with families of their own are left in the home town to continue living. Yet the church is the only organization which welcomes all ages—to be community to be a church family together. But how do we make these connections? How do we welcome new people into our churches and open the circle we call family with which we are called to care for and love? We do it through love knowing that community matters because we were designed to live in relationship.
                Jesus prayed for his disciples and their future impact on the world. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one.”
                Jesus calls us to be one with each other and one with God. This is the foundation of how we are and become community. We care about each other. Now we need to tell each other how much- in Jesus’ name and through the love he showed us how to share.

                Are you willing to be in this kind of community where love is shared in Jesus’ name? This is what it means to be a part of the family of God! Come let us share and be one in Christ, together!