Let Us Run With Perseverance The Race

Written by: Conny Varga

I love watching the Olympic Games! It never ceases to amaze me how dedication and hard work can result in such incredible athletic feats and stunning performances. I love cheering on our Canadian athletes and feel national pride when they perform well enough to be awarded a medal. And since I grew up outside of Canada, I get to cheer for two countries, which means double the fun!

I find it interesting that a number of athletes mentioned in interviews that it’s their friends, family, support system, and cheering fans that keep them going and propel them to greater accomplishments. It’s the fuel they need to compete and finish well.

I believe this is what Hebrews 12:1-3 talks about, when it compares our lives as Christians to that of an athlete: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

The writers of the New Testament were very familiar with athletic competitions, as well as the Olympic Games, which had likely been going on for more than 600 years. They saw first-hand what it took to participate, race, and finish well. Just like athletes have to make numerous lifestyle choices and changes that are beneficial and will help them reach their goals, we also must choose to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. Discipline is a word we don’t like to hear, but it is what conditions us for the race. Just like any good coach or trainer will often push their client past their limits to stretch and grow their abilities, we also are being “pushed” by our coach, our Father in heaven, to stretch, grow, and produce the right results. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Heb 12:11)

Finally, we have a role model to look up to and imitate. Jesus finished the race before us, and despite the incredible difficulties He had to push through, He set a perfect score in all disciplines and categories!

So what can we learn from the Olympics? We are in a race as well, a race that is eternally significant, a race that requires whole-hearted dedication, sweat, blood, and discipline. Slacking off is not an option. Toying with sin is not an option. Distractions are not an option. It also teaches us that it is just as equally important to cheer on the other “runners” in the race. They are being fueled by our encouragement. They need to feel our support to run well. And above all, our inspiration is Christ, who calls us to follow His example.

What can you do today to focus more on your spiritual “race”? How can you dedicate your whole life to this? What needs to be thrown off? What lifestyle changes need to happen?

Is there someone who needs your encouragement today? Who needs to hear your cheers as they struggle through a tough part of the course?

Let’s enjoy the Olympics and allow them to remind us that we are in the race of a lifetime, and that we have much work to do to finish well. Let’s aspire to imitate Jesus, who finished the race through tremendous hardship and discipline, so that we “will not grow weary and lose heart” when hard times come. Then let’s encourage our team mates to do the same.

Go for the Gold

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

Over the last week and half, my family has thoroughly enjoyed watching the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.  Cheering on our Canadian athletes as they “go for the gold” in their respective events causes us to swell with patriotic pride.  Their laser focus, fierce determination and advanced skill on display for all to see is truly a sight to behold.  As we sit watching them compete, we can only imagine the hours upon hours of training and discipline endured for a few fleeting moments of fame on the world stage.

As I reflect on the above, the following sobering questions come to mind concerning my spiritual performance in the eyes of Jesus:

  • Do I “go for the gold” in my spiritual development and service for my Saviour in order to mentor believers and reach the lost?
  • Am I spending time daily in His word, prayerfully communing with Him and living out the Fruits of the Spirit in my life?
  • Do I seek fleshly glory here on earth or am I sowing in to the rewards of eternity?
  • Will others see in me the same spiritual commitment, drive and discipline reflected in my everyday words, decisions and actions?

With respect to the temporal, I know that I am one to focus when it comes to the disciplines pertaining to my family and work.  There are children that need to get places, lessons that need to be paid for and meals that need to be made.  At work there are issues to resolve, finances to account for and future outcomes to project.  Yet when I look at my relationship with Christ, including my devotional life, prayer times and praise experiences, sometimes I am remiss.  The temporal invades the spiritual leaving my spiritual muscles lacking and weak.

Thankfully I am still a work in progress, and when I detour from the training plan the Holy Spirit is there to help me get back in shape.  He is the best personal trainer.

Further, the Olympians show me things that I can relate to as a follower of Christ.  I am sure that when the alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. to train, there are mornings these athletes would rather just roll over and go back to sleep.  But this is not an option for them.  They simply get up with vigor and intensity, ready to attack their practice, because they want to be the best that they can be.  They are intentionally focused on one goal:  Gold.

Daughters, I encourage you today, myself included, to have that same laser focus when it comes to how we spiritually train and live out our lives for Christ; for the purpose of the gospel.   Christ arrested our hearts at conversion and our purpose each day is transformation.  Let us stay as disciplined as Paul commands us in Hebrew 12:1-3 (The Message):

“Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we’d better get on with it.  Strip down, start running – and never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how He did it.  Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – He could put up with anything along the way:  Cross, shame, whatever.  And now He’s there, in the place of honour, right alongside of God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through.  That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

 

Give Me Jesus

Written by: Jody Mugford

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:1-5 (NLT)

Let’s take a look at this scene. Jesus has just rebuked and cast a demon out of a possessed man. He dramatically demonstrated His authority over evil spirits and His fame has spread rapidly through Galilee. He continues to perform miracles, cast out demons and preach the Good News to all who will listen (Mark 1:25-45). Jesus is attracting crowds wherever He goes and when he returns to Capernaum, it is no different.

On this day, we meet four friends who have decided to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing. The friends arrive at the house where Jesus is preaching and see that it is too crowded to get in. They know that they can’t get to Jesus how they’d originally planned but they refuse to give up! They’ve decided that today is the day they see Jesus! Today is the day of salvation! They don’t know when Jesus will be nearby again and they refuse to let the opportunity slip by. So they manage to carry their friend on a mat, up a flight of stairs (awkwardly and with great difficulty, I’d imagine) and proceed to tear apart the roof and lower him down through! Imagine what people must have been thinking when the ceiling started to come apart, materials falling to the floor, and they look up to see a man on a thin pallet being lowered to the ground in front of everyone!

The paralyzed man may have felt all eyes on him and wondered what on earth he had gotten himself into. His friends may have felt nervous…wondering, “What will people think? We must look crazy! What if we are sent away? How are we going to pay for this roof?!”. In truth, these are thoughts I would likely have had. What if…? What if…? But Jesus saw their faith. This is why I admire these friends so much. They decided that they weren’t going to let a distracting scene or unexpected obstacles stop them. They were determined to bring their friend to Jesus. I believe they had resolved in their hearts that Jesus would heal this man. Think about it! They knew that once they lowered their friend down through the roof, they probably couldn’t lift him back up. He was going to have to WALK out. Wow! Oh Lord let me be such a faith-filled, determined friend!

Jesus saw their faith and He responded. Jesus knew their hearts and He also saw their actions. He saw their willingness to fight and not give up. He saw that, against all hurtles, they were going to bring their friend to Him. In return, Jesus did something amazing. He said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

Wait…what?

Jesus…we didn’t come here for forgiveness!

Didn’t you notice?! Our friend is paralyzed! He needs to WALK!

This was my initial reaction when I read this story. Why would Jesus first forgive his sins when he so obviously needed physical healing!?

God is being gracious to teach me that the greatest miracle Jesus will ever do for us is to forgive our sins. The most amazing gift is for Him to wipe us clean of our past and accept us into His family, to give us eternal life with Him. Our greatest need always has been and always will be…Jesus Himself.

The next part of the story is such an awesome lesson on how God values our faith.

“…So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
Mark 2:10-12 (NLT)

Jesus knew what the man was seeking. Jesus knew what the four friends were hoping to see. He knew they all wanted him to walk. Jesus also knew that, more than anything, this man needed forgiveness. He needed a Saviour. He needed to have a true encounter with Jesus, the Saviour of the world. But Jesus, in His love and mercy, doesn’t stop there. He gives him a second miracle, the one the man thought was his biggest need. Now he can walk! His life and the lives of his friends are forever changed. Now this man can tell his story of Jesus, the One who healed him inside AND out.

Jesus knows what we need, friends. He knows that we need physical miracles, healed relationships, financial provision, and more. He loves when we seek after Him for ourselves and our loved ones. He is urging us to do so! But I am convinced that SOMETIMES, when He allows us to seek for oh so long, and to pray oh so hard, believing against all obstacles, it is to drive us to Him. So, in our desperation and determination, we find ourselves digging into His presence, seeking and finding Him. When we do that, we begin to realize that we don’t need miracles, healings and provisions only…more than anything, we need Jesus.

Give me Jesus.

Love and blessings,

Jody

HIS POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN OUR WEAKNESS

Written by: Christianne Williams

I was always a shy kid.  I loved spending time by myself, I never liked to be in the spotlight, I would turn red if someone looked at me.   I can remember singing in the Christmas concert at church, backwards so I couldn’t see all the people in the audience.

One day in junior high we were asked the question of what we wanted to do with our lives after we graduated.  I took a leap of faith and raised my hand very excited to share what I had been dreaming about.  It was a big thing for me to share my vision of my future.  The reaction I got was, “You’ll never be able to achieve that.”  That response came from a high school teacher, someone who should have cheered me on toward my aspirations. Instead, that  interaction was one of many that fed my feelings of inadequacy; the idea I had about myself that I wasn’t good enough, and would never be good enough.

It’s no real surprise that our negative feelings about ourselves will be fed at certain times in our lives, especially if we possess a negative self image.  Our enemy is a liar, a deceiver, one who wants to cripple us and keep us from our destiny. And if he can do that by convincing us that we will never amount to anything, then he will pull out all the stops.  If he can get us to focus on what we perceive as shortcomings and inadequacies, then we will begin to believe that whatever God has placed in our hearts is beyond our reach.

We are not the only people who have struggled with inadequacies. For example, Moses had a bag of excuses such as telling God that he was slow of speech and therefore could not lead the Israelites in their journey from bondage to freedom.  Gideon came from, by his own admission, the least of the tribes of Israel, and saw himself as the least of that tribe; yet God used him to defeat the Midianites with a skeleton army.  The disciples were a bunch of misfits! For example, Peter needed anger management, Matthew was a tax collector- the equivalent of a national traitor and thief, and James and John Jesus called the “sons of thunder”, perhaps for their fiery judgmental dispositions! The truth is, each had their own issues, their inadequacies.  But despite their flaws, God called them, commissioned them, and empowered them to be His representatives.  Saul of Tarsus was a murderer, trying to eliminate all of the Christians around, but a powerful encounter with Jesus changed the course of his life, and sent him on missionary journeys to win the lost.  There are so many more examples of people who had things that could have held them back and hang them up, but God chose them, despite their weaknesses, and in response, they chose to trust God and obey Him!  God used them because of their willingness to let Him change them and be seen in them, and great things were accomplished because of it.

What if we decided that, although we feel ill equipped, unprepared, and maybe even unworthy,  God knows what He’s doing when He calls us to a certain assignment?  He sees the deepest parts of our hearts, knitted us together in our mother’s womb, knows our innermost being, He knows who He’s calling better than we know ourselves.  He sees what we can only imagine and He wants to shine through us.

2 Corinthians 12:9&10 say, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am, strong.”

We have the promise that when we are called to do something that doesn’t fall into the category of our strong suits that God will be made strong in us and that our victory will shine with His glory.

We Choose Joy!

A word from, Cindy Morrone

I am so excited to share with you all, this year’s Sisterhood Sunday Video Series!! We Choose JOY!! We will start off with a post from one of WAHD’s own, Doretta Zinck! Full of wisdom, she shares with us what joy is, and what it is not. We will observe a memoire of someone who exemplified joy to everyone she met. There are interviews lined-up with amazing woman who live joy-filled, despite life’s circumstances.

We Choose JOY!! A WAHD video series coming soon!!


Written by: Doretta Zinck

Greetings!

When’s the last time you jumped for joy? Really and truly did the dance? Maybe you won something, got that promotion or reached a hard- to- attain goal?

Congratulations on your accomplishment…but while you feel great happiness as you’re jumping and screaming remember, it is not joy. At least not the joy the Bible talks about finding as a strength and foundation for our daily lives.

Romans 15:13 (NIV) “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you my overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

Happiness is not an emotion that we learn; we get it right away! Joy is an emotion we must develop and teach ourselves to intentionally choose every day. It’s like exercising a muscle, it takes time and endurance training to have the strength to call on when needed.

Being happy as a result of good circumstances taking place is like walking on shifting sand, we can’t rely on having good things happening all the time. Happiness is fleeting while joy is a staying power inside of us, part of who we are as Christ followers.

In the western world our search for contentment has been skewed by the pursuit of mountains of material goods and wealth or success and fame. Some tend to settle for a second rate happiness that “stuff” gives. The feeling passes and we’re on to the next item or acknowledgement. This can become a lifestyle and grow into an addictive behaviour pattern. But joy runs much deeper than that, deeper than wealth or fame ever could, for joy is that steady under current that exists without being influenced by the temporal highs and lows of everyday life.

Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV) “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”.

Training ourselves to choose this joy is a gift we can give ourselves, and releasing the idea that we can experience joy in and through every situation or circumstance is freedom. We begin to comprehend the spiritual truth that nothing trumps the joy of knowing that we are in perfect standing with God because of Jesus.

Lovely One, you have a choice to live joyfully regardless of your circumstances. Sound idealistic? Sound impossible? Things can happen around us that may rattle us but not destroy us, sadden us but not crush our spirit. Life may present challenges that test us in a situation but we can choose joy, knowing that though all around may fail He will never leave us or forsake us. Now that is a reason to dance, yes, dance for joy!!!

Joy to the world the Lord has come, let earth receive her King!!!

 

Friendship

Written by: Carolyn Ruttan

It’s Valentine’s week . The week for friendship and love, and if there is one thing I am thankful for while living in Honduras, it is the friendships that my children have with their peers.  It makes my heart happy.  You see, Honduras is not like Canada in that they have the freedom just to walk where they want or take a bus to the mall or a friend’s house to hang out. It simply would not be safe to do so, especially being white and young . After a while that can grate on your nerves and it can sort of feel like you are in prison. Bars on the windows, serpentine wire on the walls and you can’t go anywhere alone. You have to stay in the house where you are safe.  It’s not the kind of place where people are in the area and just stop by for no reason.  Honestly that is one thing that Dale and I miss. Unless we are expecting someone, we generally don’t answer if someone is banging on our gate outside.

Yet, my kids are a part of an amazing youth group. There are quite a few of them and they are a close knit, tight group. They get together often.  They encourage one another. Pray for one another. They are friends. They love one another and they love the Lord. One time we had about twenty of them over to our house for pizza and games, (supervised) while the parents went out to a new pizza restaurant. It was a great night for the youth and the parents who also got to enjoy friendship and camaraderie. It was needed, and for sure we will do it again sometime.

Heb 10:24

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

Our family is also part of a fellowship group with four other families that meet each Thursday night. This group is not just for adults like most home groups….it’s for the youth too. They have a voice and it is great to see them opening up and sharing their thoughts and hearing their hearts.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Gal 6:2 Share each other’s burdens , and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Being so far from “home,” I never would have imagined that my children would have the closeness with their peers that they do here.  They could be hanging out with the wrong crowd, with people who would want to influence them in the ways of the world, but they aren’t.  It is a huge blessing from the Lord. I’m thankful they have a support system and people their age they can rely on, talk to, pray with and be themselves.

Gal 6:2 Share each other’s  burdens , and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Proverbs 12:26 The godly give good advice to their friends, the wicked lead them astray.

Finding The Gold: “Made For Great Things”

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Last week on the blog I wrote part one of a three part series that I feel God has laid on my heart to share. If you’re just joining us today, I asked a group of people the question; “What top three words would you use to describe how YOU see YOURSELF?

We concluded that when people believe that because of Christ, above all else, they are redeemed, forgiven, loved, valued and free—they live their lives this way…knowing that along the way their imperfect human nature will cause them to stumble sometimes—but their stumbling will not define who they are. Their position in Christ remains the source of their identity. They have found the gold, they have uncovered what so many of us keep hidden.

The second question I asked in my short survey was:
“When someone tells you, “You were made for great things”, how does that make you feel?”

Much the same as the diversity discovered in the first batch of answers, were the results from question number two. Many said that having these words spoken over their lives would leave them feeling anxious, unprepared and stressed. Others, felt the complete opposite. They felt that having these words spoken over their lives would fill them with passion, give them hope and a renewed sense of purpose.

While I believe we were all designed and created for greatness, I am fully aware we have all fallen short of who we were intended to be by fault our sinful nature.
“For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23

But that doesn’t leave us without hope for doing good and living out the will of God with greatness.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” —Ephesians 2:8-9

As I encouraged you last week to view your identity through the lens of Christ instead of through your own eyes (which are sure to betray you!), I would like to similarly encourage you this week to view your purpose through the lens of Christ.

God has a purpose for all of us. Those of us who fervently seek to live our lives modelled after Christ and His biblical example will be those of us who live that purpose to it’s fullest potential. However, when we truly reach that point, our goal will not be greatness as the world see’s greatness. Greatness will be a means to measure the capacity in which we allowed God to use us to fulfill His will in our present circumstances.

Perhaps if your reaction to the question was feelings of anxiety, stress and unpreparedness you could break out of your restrictive box and take a bold step forward in the plans that God has for you. This action which will require you to intentionally view your purpose from His perspective.

Take a few moments and ask God now if you’re living out the purposes He has for you, and if you’re not, ask Him to reveal those to you.

Transformed Rust-Buckets, Roll Out!

Written by: Conny Varga

On Sunday, as I was sitting in church, a question popped up in my head: “Why am I here? Why are we all here?” As I was contemplating this, I found myself comparing my life to owning a car. I know, odd thought process! But in a way, there are quite a few parallels between the two.

If you own a car, you purchased it for a purpose. You use it to get to work, to do your shopping, visit your friends, and do road trips. You use it to get your plans accomplished. To make sure it gets you from point A to point B, you keep up its maintenance, from tire rotations to oil changes. When something is broken, you take it to a mechanic. When it’s low on fuel, you gas up. In short, you don’t own a car to have it sit in your driveway – you own it to do things with it. And you expect it to work when you need it to work. Nothing is more frustrating than a car that won’t start when you need it most!

Let’s switch over to how it relates to our lives as followers of Jesus. Why are we here? When we were saved, our ownership was transferred from Satan to our Redeemer. He paid an outrageously high price for us, and in addition, He decided to give us a complete overhaul and makeover. We were transformed from an old rust-bucket into a beautifully restored, shiny creation. We are God’s, and He purchased us for a purpose. And that purpose is NOT to sit under a tarp all week, just to be buffed and polished for our grand appearance at the Sunday morning show.

Yet I fear that too often, we are content to just sit in our driveways. We are content to just look good, but we are not putting ourselves to good use for His Kingdom. Jesus wants us to be the vehicle to clothe the naked, visit the sick, help the needy, bring hope to the hopeless, and love the unlovable but instead we just idle in our own front yard. He sees the maintenance that needs to be done, He wants to work on us, but we are happy with old oil and worn tires. We need fuel, but we just don’t take the time to be filled up again by spending time in His word and in prayer. Things are broken but we refuse to let Him bring healing and instead, we sputter and stall everywhere we go. And quite often, when He wants to use us to get His plans accomplished, we just refuse to go. How frustrating that must be for Him!

We must re-prioritize our lives! Let’s start by “giving our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word”, like the apostles did in Acts 6. Let’s allow Jesus to fill us with “living water” (John 4) that will then overflow into the world around us. And let’s be available and ready to go and “be His witnesses” (Acts 1), whether into our neighbourhood, our city, province, or all the world.

We are meant to be out there, running His errands, doing His work, delivering His message. Not so people can look at how great we are, but so they can admire the One whose infinite love and creative hands have made us into who we are. And so that other “rust-buckets” can be purchased and transformed into beautiful creations of His as well.

We have a mission to accomplish! Transformation and reconciliation is the goal, no cost is too great, and no matter who we are – junkers and clunkers – we can all be part of it. So to paraphrase the famous words of Optimus Prime: “Transformed Rust-Buckets, Roll Out!”

A Look at Love

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

I have to admit, I really love Valentine’s Day.  I am a hopeless romantic at heart and this particular observance lets me show my “sappy” side.  The cliché love notes and cards and chocolates and roses and stuffed toys and jewelry…I love it all!  The classic dinner date, complete with dress up clothes and fancy food, yes please!  My husband knows full well that he will be in the “dog house” if he is remiss in the romance department on this special day!

In fact, looking back over time, I have always loved Valentine’s Day.  Each year in elementary school, I looked forward to decorating my brown paper bag with all things red, purple and pink in expectation of it being filled with valentines from my classmates.  I loved writing out personalized expressions to each of my friends in return.  The classroom Valentine’s Day parties were the best with their white cupcakes sprinkled with red and pink, red party punch, chocolates, cinnamon hearts and candies with love messages.  Prizes for the most festive red, white and pink outfit was the height of the celebration!

Reflecting more closely, I think my love for Valentine’s Day comes from my father’s equal love for its celebration.  Growing up, my Dad was a very loving and sentimental man, showing his love for his wife and children daily.  He loved extravagantly through his words of encouragement, his thoughtful actions, his warm embraces, his silly antics, his shared wisdom, his fierce protection, his time spent and heartfelt “I love you’s.”  We always felt safe with him at the helm of our family ship and prized above everyone else.

But, on Valentine’s Day his love for his three girls went over the top!  We would wake to a beautiful card with personal message and a box of chocolates on our dresser.  He would pick us up from school so we would not have to walk home.  He would bless my mother with a dozen red roses and my sister and I with one long stemmed rose each.  He would take us all out for dinner using the utmost of gentlemanly manners.  It was his way to celebrate the loves of his life and outwardly express his devotion to us.  He knew how to do Valentine’s Day very well!

Today, I shower my menfolk with the same amount of blessing that my father showered on his three ladies.  Since the early years of our dating relationship to present day, I have taken the time and effort to express my love to my husband in tangible ways daily and to commemorate what we have together on Valentine’s Day.  As a natural extension of this I have enjoyed being creative in how I reach my two boys on the mushiest day of the year.  They look forward to their “Lovebug” filled with sentiments from their Mommy dearest, even at 18 and 16 years of age, and still enjoy their daily dose of snuggles though emphatically denied!

When I take a look at love, I recognize that in this life I have been loved well by the humans closest to me and for that I am very thankful.  I realize that my experience is in the minority, in relation to that of the larger collective, and this saddens me.  Many individuals, in fact most, do not regard Valentine’s Day in a positive light due to past hurts, loss or love never realized.  Due to the imperfection of our fallen world, love has been corrupted and falls short of its divine purpose.

But, there is hope!  In the same way that my father loved me, and I in turn love my sons, God loves ALL of His children. (1 John 3:1) He looks down at our world, warped by sin, seeing all our imperfections and failures, and loves us all despite.  His love goes far beyond our human expressions ever could, because His love is perfect and never fails.  His love is enough and satisfies our deepest longings.  His love brings peace and leads us to salvation through His son Jesus. (John 3:16-17) God is love! (1 John 4:8)

To sum up, the greatest Valentine’s Day card we could ever receive is the Bible itself.  The most touching and meaningful of all love letters sent direct from our Creator Himself pointing us to our Bridegroom Jesus.  I will leave you with one of my favourite scriptures.

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

I’ll Pray For You

Written by: Jody Mugford

We’ve all been there. You are having a conversation with a friend and they are sharing with you the challenge they are experiencing – sickness, financial stress, loss of a loved one, etc. Sometimes the pain they are experiencing is so overwhelming that you just don’t know what to say. No words of comfort or advice seem appropriate at the time and there is little you feel you can do to soothe their aching heart. Oh, how we wish we had the right sentiment or message to bring them peace! And how those precious words often elude us! But there is something we can do! We can pray for them. We can bring their needs before God and believe for miracles. So we do our best to give them love and support and we promise to pray. Lately, however, I have felt the Holy Spirit asking me very specifically, “ Jody, when you offer to pray for someone, to incorporate them into your daily prayer time, do you do it?”. Ouch…

I will be the first to step up and admit my failures in this area. For years I was the queen of good intentions and poor follow through. My desires to offer help to my sorrowful loved ones were genuine but my follow through in my private prayer life was less than desired. I might pray a few words or thoughts about them that day and maybe a couple more words the next day but then, I’m sad to say, the effort would often trail off. There are many reasons for this, I’m sure, but none that really seem sufficient, in hindsight. In my recent years, I have had the experience of being the one that desperately needed others to pray for me. I know what it is to be so overwhelmed with your problem and pain that you can’t seem to pull yourself out of that deep pit of despair. I know what it is like to be so exhausted and drained that you don’t have any stamina left to even call out to God. Your words and mental capacity have become so weak that you feel any effort of praying barely even reaches the ceiling, let alone the heavens. In those times, I NEEDED praying people like I needed air. In fact, at times, they WERE my air.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Philippians 2:3-5

These are just a few verses in the bible that address the need to pray for others – for our fellow believers, for those that don’t yet know Christ, for our government, for all people. The apostle Paul repeatedly implored believers to pray for him and for each other. Jesus is our ultimate model for prayer. He prioritized time with the Father in prayer, before anything else He did in His earthly ministry. He prayed the most amazing prayer for us in John 17, that richly demonstrates His passion and love for us and our wellbeing. With these as our examples to follow, how can we do any less for each other?

So, how do we remember to pray for those needs? In the midst of skating lessons, supper prep, bedtime chaos and everything in between, how do we find the time? This is a work in progress for me but here are some thoughts:

~ Pray as soon as the Holy Spirit prompts you. Don’t say, “Oh I’ll pray for that this evening”. Stop, take a moment and pray now. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you more. He will!
~ Use a calendar in an easy to see place, like your fridge. Write down a person to pray for each day and during that day bring them before God repeatedly.
~ Use that calendar to write down specific events that are happening, like surgeries, tests, etc. and pray for them when most needed.
~ Involve your family! When you hear of someone that needs prayer or feel prompted to pray, include your spouse or children. Have them stop what they’re doing and pray with you. This will do amazing things to develop an active prayer life in your children.

We desperately need to pray for each other, to join together and bring needs before our loving Father. God wants to hear from us! He wants us to unite with our family in Christ and petition Him through prayer. I can’t say this enough…prayer changes things! Prayer works! Let’s determine to be renewed people of prayer for those around us. Let’s be examples of Christ’s love and compassion and do the absolute best thing we can do when our loved ones are hurting – PRAY!

Love and blessings,

Jody